Knee sleeves have become widely popular in the exercise realm, especially for knee support during back squats. Knee sleeves are successful in providing frontal plane knee support during functional tasks, but have not been investigated in back squats. Knee wraps, a somewhat similar elastic material, provide elastic energy that increases weight lifted during back squats. Thus, it is possible the thick neoprene knee sleeves could prove advantageous for back squats. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of knee sleeves on weight lifted, knee biomechanics, and muscle activations during back squats.
Fifteen resistance trained men and women performed 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) squats to full depth and 80% 1-RM to full and parallel depths during two separate randomized sessions: with/without knee sleeves. Three-dimensional motion capture, force platforms, and electromyography recorded knee biomechanics and activations of the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, biceps femoris long head, and gluteus maximus during all squats.
Maximal weight lifted did not improve when using knee sleeves. Frontal plane knee biomechanics did not differ for 1-RM or submaximal squats to either depth between conditions. Knee external rotation moments during descent were larger with sleeves during submaximal squats. Reduced integrated ascent phase gluteus maximus activations occurred during both 1-RM and submaximal squats with knee sleeves.
The results of this study show that wearing knee sleeves does not provide additive effects to weight lifted and do not appear to alter frontal plane mechanics during weighted back squats.
Original Publication Citation
Bennett, H., Trypuc, A., Valenzuela, K., & Sievert, Z. (2021). Wearing knee sleeves during back squats does not improve mass lifted or affect knee biomechanics. Human Movement, 22(2), 32-42. https://doi.org/10.5114/hm.2021.100012
Bennett, Hunter J.; Trypuc, Alexandria; Valenzuela, Kevin A.; and Sievert, Zachary A., "Wearing Knee Sleeves During Back Squats Does Not Improve Mass Lifted or Affect Knee Biomechanics" (2021). Human Movement Sciences Faculty Publications. 101.