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  • Chuck Johns

Are Knee Sleeves Recommended for Everyday Use?

Updated: Dec 13, 2019



We go through life these days taking many things for granted. No one knows this more than our physicians, who see us letting our health skip away more and more on a daily basis because we don't notice or pay attention to how our body works until we start to have problems. When was the last time, for instance, you needed to have a better idea of how your knee worked? Odds are it was when that knee was acting up. It's sadly a common thing for many people, who often take for granted just what their knees do for them on a daily basis.


But what kind of work does the knee do for us on a daily basis? Well, the knees are a significant part of any major motor activity. Sitting, standing, walking, jumping, climbing, re-configuring how you're doing any of those, you name it, the knees are part of it. They flex to take up the shock of a landing, or to lower the weight of your upper body, or to help you direct your movement. And that's just for everyday use -- those who jog, or lift, or play sports like basketball or swimming, will all have more specialized needs that their knees help them meet.


KNEE PROBLEMS


Of course, the demands on our knees are raised the more active we actually are. Exercise brings on a host of other demands and requirements for our knees, whether it's taking up the shock of jogging or running steps or helping us pivot and change direction for an exercise or a drive to the hoop. All of these added demands can lead to problems and injuries, which bring on sensitivity and inflammation.


Notably, it's not just exercising and athleticism that leads to this. While many injuries are named after sports, they're really overuse injuries that result from repeated movement or similar demands being placed on that body part. You can get runner's knee or tennis elbow if you've never done either activity, and the symptoms are the same. Of course, to deal with knee problems, it's usually a good idea to resort to using a knee brace.


KNEE BRACES



Knee braces are often one of the first recommendations for dealing with knee injuries. This is because the solid structure of a knee brace can protect the affected knee from shaking and further injury from external sources, as well as stabilize the knee's own movement. These are certainly better than leaving the knee with zero protection, because a knee that needs support will be particularly vulnerable to further damage or injury.


The trade-off, usually, is that a hard knee brace can be quite stiff and can impede your knee mobility. Athletes who use these typically have to give up some range of motion. Some actually also report that it might keep the joint from growing stronger over time, possibly because of over reliance on the external support.


COTTON COMPRESSION KNEE SLEEVES


Knee sleeves, on the other hand, provide support without hindering the knee's original range of motion. You want some restriction just to give your movements some structure that would prevent awkward landings and the like, but not enough to be restrictive and cause a loss of motion range. For clarity's sake, knee sleeves and knee braces are not the same thing, although they do have similar benefits.


Knee sleeves help prevent further risk of damage to the knee, which is quite necessary for knees that go through significant pressure daily. You're likely to see at least one person in every gym you go to wearing a knee sleeve. This is because the knee sleeve offers a number of benefits: first, warmth, which is helpful for a joint that needs rehabbing. The warmth provides a sense of comfort as well. The snug fit of a knee sleeve inhibits patella movement, which if unchecked could result in different further injury. Proprioception is the final benefit, as the knee sleeve allows you to sense your knee's position and placement as you move, which allows your nervous system to take better, more measured control of it.


When should you wear knee sleeves? The easy answer is: when you need them. You actually don't need to wear them for everyday use, given the nature of everyday knee movement and the kind of support that does and does not require. Actually, wearing knee sleeves too often can lead to similar problems as wearing knee braces too often -- the muscles surrounding the knee don't learn their roles in providing support.



Listen to your body. If certain movements start to generate pain or strain in the knee area, your body's telling you that some added support in that region is necessary. However, a longer-term solution is weaning yourself out of the knee sleeve, training your other muscles to take up more of the work and t take some of the pressure off the knee itself.

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