We recently discussed the differences between knee sleeves and knee wraps, and determined that knee wraps are particularly beneficial when doing squats. Squats can be a component of any workout, particularly leg workouts where your goal is to exercise your quads and your gluts. However, by and large, squats are a critical part of any weightlifting regimen.
Even though squats are typically considered leg exercises, squatting is a full body movement that works out almost every muscle group, including your core. Whether you lift for strength training or competitive powerlifting, squats are a powerful way to strengthen your entire body. Squatting with the proper form, and the right gear to protect your key muscle groups, is essential to getting the most out of your workout.
Movement & Energy Involved in Squatting
While we have established that squats are a full body workout, it’s obvious that your knees carry a great deal of weight—both literally and figuratively. A perfect squat requires a straight, tight core, and a movement that involves bringing the weight of your body—and the barbell you are lifting—downwards. Your core and upper body does the bulk of the work holding the weight, but your knees are the point of movement to bring your body down then back up.
There are three types of motions involved in squatting. First, there is the eccentric motion. In this phase, the quadriceps muscles contract eccentrically, meaning they lengthen to bring your body downward. Under the pressure of the weight, your quadriceps contract in an isometric way. This is the second phase of the squat, the isometric contraction, where your muscles don’t move at all, but develop tension. When you hold your squat for several seconds, your quadriceps undergo isometric contraction. Pushing this weight upwards initiates the final phase, concentric contraction. Here, the quadriceps muscles shorten as you complete the squat and return to your starting position.
Why Knee Gear Matters for Squatting
The phases of a squat require a great deal of energy. If you’re doing the squat correctly, your quadriceps bear the entire weight of your body and the weight you’re lifting. Your knees should not carry the weight of this exercise, but since the knee is the joint connecting your upper leg to your lower leg, the movement of your knees is essential. If your form is incorrect, if you are placing excessive weight on your knees, or if you do not have the proper gear to protect and reinforce your knees, then you risk potential injury.
That is where knee sleeves come in. Enerskin knee sleeves, in particular, are designed to stabilize your kneecap and the surrounding muscles, protecting you from injury and reducing the amount of strain you place on your knees. As we discussed when we examined how knee wraps differ from knee sleeves, there is an actual performative benefits to using knee gear during squats. The compressive properties of the gear can yield a stronger squat.
Because your muscles are compressed, a knee sleeve or knee wrap allows your quadriceps to store a higher amount of energy during the eccentric phase of the squat. As you’re moving downwards, your quadriceps are lengthening, and energy builds as you hold the squat. This energy is released as you push upwards (during the concentric phase), resulting in an added boost of power—a faster, heavier squat.
However, we’ve seen the limitations of knee wraps. Wrapping them too tightly creates unnecessary friction, and the fact that they don’t conform to the shape of your knees inhibits flexibility and can eventually lead to joint pain. Enerskin knee sleeves, in addition to incorporating a revolutionary tri-weave fabric for maximum compression, uses medical-grade silicone taping. This taping is contoured to your kneecap and the surrounding muscles, working with the shape of your legs to enhance your movements and increase resistance without restrictions. You’ll receive the necessary stability and protection for the perfect squat, reinforced with wearable technology that only enhances your training.