Make Targeted Knee Compression Your Secret To Injury-Free Exercise
What’s your favorite exercise? Running? Ballgames? A casual game of soccer? Or perhaps you prefer working on flexibility and strength through pilates? No matter how you like to exercise and stay fit, you need your knees to support you.
As you are pushing your limits further, you’re likely to hit a moment when you push too hard. Knee pain is often one of the first indicators that your body needs more support. This is especially common in impact sports, and the pain is quickly followed by swelling and inflammation. Knee compression is the solution in many cases: it is a simple and effective way to prevent more severe injury and keep you going.
Quick Recap: Reasons For Knee Injuries
As the largest joint in the body, knees are involved in almost every movement. Like all hinged joints, they bend, straighten, and carry the weight of your body together with your ankles and hips. Knees can do more, though. Because of the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage surrounding the bones of your knee joint, you can also twist and rotate.
Unfortunately, your knees are also highly susceptible to injury. According to WebMD, knee pain is the top musculoskeletal problem that causes people to look for medical advice or visit their doctor. There are several reasons for knees being so vulnerable.
The fact that knees are being used so much makes them more likely to develop a problem. There is a very fine line between using and overusing. The sheer number of parts of the knee joint is another cause for problems. With so many parts, there are simply more things that can go wrong.
Most Common Knee Problems
Knee problems can range from temporary inconveniences to chronic injuries. If you exercise regularly, you have likely already experienced some of them such as inflammation, instability, or swelling.
Some of those problems result from overuse. When you are training for a new goal, for example, it’s easy to push a bit too hard. Adding another mile to your regular run may not seem like it is that much more. However, it may just be enough to start a cycle of inflammation.
Injuries kickstart inflammation. The inflammation is your body’s way to deal with your injury by releasing chemicals that assist in healing. Problems arise when neither injury nor subsequent inflammation is resolved. Inflammation then becomes chronic and triggers further inflammation and injury, often accompanied by increasing knee pain. Knee compression can help resolve inflammation and break the cycle.
How Knee Sleeves And Compression Pants Help
You have probably come across the acronym RICE when it comes to treating knee injuries. For those who are not familiar with it, RICE stands for Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation. To understand how important compression is in this respect, we need to take a look at what happens in your knees to make them appear swollen.
Within seconds of an injury, the starts healing itself with the help of an inflammatory response. The brain sends fluid and protein to the site of the injury to start repairing the damage. Blood circulation to the area increases steadily, and your knee starts feeling warm and tender. Some of this reaction is not only normal but also necessary for the healing process.
However, if swelling is left untreated for too long it can lead to long-term problems. It is possible for swelling to become chronic. Permanently swollen knees are unsightly, but the real damage is done under the skin where tissues are in danger of becoming rigid and less liable from the swelling. Muscles surrounding the injured knee may start to atrophy if inflammation is allowed to linger.
Compression helps by controlling swelling and blood flow. Intelligently constructed knee sleeves provide just enough compression to keep swelling in check whilst aiding blood flow. Using the sleeve immediately after the injury means that much of the unwanted swelling can be prevented entirely.
Generally, experts recommend wider sleeves and compression bandages to avoid cutting off circulation above and below the injury. Bracelayer’s integrated knee stabilizing compression pants combine the advantages of both. A wide knee sleeve provides just the right amount of compression, whilst the compression pants ensure optimal circulation in surrounding joints and prevent the knee sleeve from slipping.
Knee compression helps relieve pain almost by default. The reason is simple: knee sleeves stabilize the painful joint and prevent unwanted movement.
Whilst you may be raring to go and continue exercising, consider taking a break for a few days after an injury. Avoid the activity that caused the injury in the first place to allow your knee to heal. Gentle stretching and straightening will support joint flexibility. Wearing a knee sleeve during these recovery exercises is a great reminder to keep movements gentle and slow.
Once the healing process is underway, a knee sleeve becomes your secret weapon when you are increasing your exercise levels once again. Keeping some pressure on the joint is enough to support movements that would otherwise be painful.
What About Ice?
Ice or cold packs are an integral part of the RICE acronym and injury treatment. Icing or cold therapy is particularly effective immediately after the injury because it reduces swelling.
Applying ice packs to the site of an injury limits blood flow and slows down cell metabolism. It’s another way of controlling the body’s natural response.
However, a recent study found that compression treatment had an edge of cold pack treatment in participants with knee osteoarthritis. Over the course of four weeks, candidates for the study received a range of conventional, non-invasive treatments including ultrasound, exercise, electrical stimulation. One group had additional cold pack treatment, whereas the second group received intermittent compression. At the end of the trial, the compression treatment group showed much reduced swelling compared to the cold pack group.
Prevention Is Key
As troublesome as knee problems can be, the good news is many of them are preventable. Compression clothing like knee sleeves and knee stabilizing compression pants are perfect additions to your exercise kit that can (almost) work miracles. They are excellent value for money, too.
Knee sleeves improve your joint’s proprioception. We’ve previously written about this, but here is a quick re-cap. Proprioception is a joint’s sixth sense. With the help of sensory receptors in the joint itself as well as muscles and skin surrounding it, your knee is able to understand its position in the space surrounding it.
Proprioception also allows the joint to sense motion. The better your sense of proprioception works, the easier it is for the individual parts of your knee joint to move in ways that prevents injury. Knee compression improves proprioception. It simply helps your joints work smarter.
However, knee compression is more versatile. Depending on the components of the sleeve, they will help stabilize your joints. In Bracelayer’s knee stabilizing compression pants, we use medical neoprene surrounded by compression mesh to help stabilize your knee through any activity. The same components improve your balance, too.
Imagine landing from a jump when you’re shooting hoops. The higher you go, the more distance and impact your knee needs to cushion. If basketball is not your favorite activity, think about running over uneven ground. In both cases, a knee sleeve helps increase your stability and balance. The third part of our tri-tech support layer is an antibacterial lycra base which wicks away moisture and minimizes odor.
Above all else, knee compression increases blood flow and circulation around the joint. This helps the activation of surrounding muscles, allowing them to support the joint optimally.
In addition, compression layers help insulate your joints. This is important as we are heading into the colder season. You should never skip your warm-up, but compression will help keep your joints at optimum temperature which in turn prevents injuries.
The first sign of knee problems is often pain. Targeted knee compression is one of the most effective ways to control swelling during exercise. Combined with rest, compression can relieve minor aches and pains and prevent them from turning into an injury that triggers inflammation.
When To Use Knee Compression
There are no disadvantages to using knee compression when you exercise. Numerous studies have confirmed that knee sleeves improve the proprioception ability of joints. The benefits became even more obvious when researchers took muscle fatigue into account. Despite fatigue, knees protected by compression moved more safely than those without.
This is hugely important for serious fitness enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys impact sports. If you are trying to fit an ambitious exercise program into an already busy life, it is likely that fatigue is part of the process. Perhaps you skip warm-ups on occasion or can’t spend enough time stretching after your workout? Neither of those are optimal, but most fitness enthusiasts would admit to having done both.
Whilst knee compression does not give you carte balance, it will make your workouts safer and prevent injury. If you are in recovery from an injury, compression will literally help get you back on your feet. Knee stabilizing compression pants can cut down your recovery time.
Whether you are hoping to prevent an injury, are planning to step up your workout, or are just coming back from an injury knee compression is the secret weapon you’re not using yet.