While wraps are beneficial, it's best to use as little lifting equipment as possible when working out. Lifters with injured or weak knees or wrists usually use knee and wrist wraps. Knee wraps are used on squats, and wrist wraps can be used on any pressing movement. If you have pain in your knees to the point where you absolutely can't squat, you might want to look into using knee wraps for the extra support they give.
Knee wraps cost about $20, and it helps create pressure and tightness in the knees, and generates a constant environment. Injury prevention is important when performing the squat, and knee wraps help. They may create a little spring, but nothing major, and this is useful for power lifting. You can add up to 15 kilos or 20-30 pounds if wrapped properly and firmly enough. Wrist wraps also cost around $20, and they help to support your grip so you have better control over the barbell. Ace bandages wrapped firm but not too tightly can serve as knee or wrist wraps.
Knee wraps are for increasing your squats, leg presses, hack squats and more. They offer super support and are used by beginner to pro-level power lifters, bodybuilders, strongmen and weightlifters. There is no precise method for wrapping knees, but the most common technique starts about one full wrap width below the knee, and goes up, overlapping by half the width of the wrap.
Wrist straps are usually easy to slip on, and some brands feature Velcro closures, which increase adjustability and give you a comfortable fit. Most wrist straps are made of heavy duty elastic to provide maximum wrist support.
Some joints in your body can only support so much weight. If you are squatting 800 lbs. correctly, i.e. full down parallel and back up, you'd better use knee wraps unless you want your knees to give way on you.
However, unless you are a competitive power lifter, you don't need knee wraps. While it's true they allow you to lift more weight, that isn't what bodybuilding is about. Building muscle comes from placing maximum overload on a muscle, and there is a huge difference between using more weight and placing a muscle group under maximum overload.
The same goes for wrist wraps – they are only important for power lifters, and for people with wrist injuries. If you're using wraps, learn to wrap them tight, so you'll get a tremendous amount of support throughout the whole squat movement.
On the other hand, if you have knee problems, knee wraps can help prevent further injuries, which can really wreck your workout program. In addition, if you plan to really push your limits, wraps will help. Wraps will help to stabilize the joints only if the adjacent muscles are stronger than the ligaments contained in the joint, or when you are using a range of motion that is atypical for your particular workout routine, for example, doing "ass to the grass" super deep squats when your body is used to regular bodybuilding squats.
Bottom line: if you do not have an injury or joint problem you do not need to wrap your knees until you reach the point where you are lifting very heavy weight. Keep in mind that if you wrap an area tightly enough to give additional support you are also limiting that area's flexibility and range of motion.
Wraps can in fact hold back your progress. Your supporting ligaments and tendons don't strengthen like they should and they begin to depend on those supports to lift certain weights.
From a power lifter's standpoint, it makes sense to use wraps, as the main focus is absolute strength, not muscular growth. The use of wraps raises the possibility of you developing Patellofemoral Syndrome, an injury of the cartilage on the inside of the patella caused by the added wear that the wraps cause by putting pressure on the kneecap. Once you have this injury you have two choices: avoid exercises that aggravate it or have surgery to shave off the grooves etched into the cartilage caused by the pressure of the wraps.
Squats and your Knees
Squatting entails a heavy barbell being loaded across the trapezius and shoulders and the lifter bending at hip and knee to lower the entire body to a point where the upper legs are a little below parallel to the floor with the back kept in a straight position with an arch in the spinal erectors, then rising back up to the start position. Whilst keeping the back flat, the lifter bends at the waist and knees and lowers the bar towards the ground, ensuring that the knees do not come too far forward of the toes.
Squats can be bad for your knees, but they're good for everything else. Indeed, they're so good, that you HAVE TO do them. Knee troubles are nigh unto being routine in sports, but squatting isn't the main offender. Conversely, squatting is the ONLY culprit among bodybuilders who have knee problems. Keeping your knees strong and asymptomatic starts with developing a practical understanding of how this unique joint is built and how it does and doesn't function.
Studies have shown that the knees are most stressed during the first degrees of flexion, and that stress drops to nothing at about 30°. Hence with CORRECT FORM there is no reason not to squat deep. When you do partial squats you load the anterior cruciate ligaments in your knees more than when you do a full squat. The studies did not take any meniscus stress into consideration, so we do NOT advocate deep squats for people with meniscus tears.
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