When you’re in the gym or maybe on a run you may have spotted people wearing strapping around their knees or one knee. These are known as compression sleeves and other versions are often worn, including for elbows. 

What Purpose Do Sleeves Serve? 

These kinds of sleeves are worn for to provide stability to the knee during activities and prevent future injury to the joint. To clarify, a sleeve and a brace are different things. A sleeve should not be confused with a knee brace, which is designed to protect a previous injury from further endangerment. Sleeves are particularly important for knees which are put under great pressure regularly by activities such as running, squash, tennis, and weightlifting. Some of the benefits expected from wearing a knee sleeve include reduced pain both during and after exercise, increased warmth promoting greater blood flow, limiting patellar movement, and increasing proprioception (the capacity of the central nervous system to sense the position of a joint in space). 
The knee sleeve, unlike the knee brace, does not provide the same support for ligaments, so if you’re wearing a knee sleeve for the stability element whilst heavy weight training, for example, then you won’t be getting that particular benefit. 

How To Tell If I Need Knee Sleeves 

The question of whether you need them or not really depends on the person and the activity and stress it causes to the knee joints. If you’re a young and heathy newcomer to the gym and have no pre-existing knee injuries and you’re only lifting lighter weights, there’s not really any call to be wearing a knee sleeve. 
Lifting involving a greater amount of force such as sets becoming progressively heavier have more need for the sleeve, especially because this is also one of the leading causes of patellar tendonitis. Not all lifts will require a sleeve. Bigger moves such as squats, snatch, and clean and jerk will probably be more appropriate times to consider using the sleeve rather than a calf raise, for example. 
So overall the compression sleeve can be a useful bit of kit to include in your gym arsenal, depending on your levels of activity and disposition to injury. The more you can do to look after joints such as your knees, the more efficient your training will be, and the more you will be likely to avoid injury. 
For advice on this or any other element of fitness or injury, please get in touch. 
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