Knee injuries are common among people involved in sports all around the world like a blown anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament or torn cartilage. Knee braces serve both purposes of fortification and prevention of severe injuries to the knee joint without restricting your knee mobility.
Knee braces can be branded into 4 main categories: prophylactic knee braces, functional knee braces, rehabilitative knee braces and unloader knee braces. Prophylactic knee braces are designed to guard against or prevent serious injuries in the knee. This design is popular with athletes who play contact sports such as football or a person with a high risk of medial collateral ligament injury. It protects the knee joints and medial collateral ligament from stress and injury. Functional knee braces provide support to previously damaged knees. It is also great to use after anterior cruciate ligament injury because it will limit rotation. Rehabilitative knee braces are used to limit irregular and unnecessary knee movements following a knee injury or surgery. It protects reconstructed and treated ligaments prevents future or recurring injuries on the knee joints and ligaments. Unloader or off-loader knee braces are intended for people who have knee arthritis, specifically individuals suffering from medical compartment knee osteoarthritis. It can compensate or unload stress from specific joints on to the thigh bone and restricts movement away from the pain.
Some people may think knee sleeves are the same as knee braces, but they’re not. Knee braces were created to treat preexisting knee injuries from further harm while knee sleeves and wraps are essentially worn as a preventative measure to safeguard the knee from potential risks. During physical activities, knee sleeves increase blood flow and reduces pain through compression and inner stabilization. The compressed knee encourages blood flow through the blood vessels in the knee which is why the compression aspect is so important. Less pain and swelling are the results in using a knee sleeve during and after performances. The sleeve material is typically made from neoprene for its durability, flexibility and smoothness. A more specific use would be for adding warmth to the knee, limit patella movement, and increase proprioception which is the capacity to feel the position of the joint as sensed by the central nervous system in a certain space. In other words, the knee sleeve is an apparatus that mechanically supports the joint.
In cold weather, low-level joint pain and achiness particularly begin to set in. There is a theory about low temperatures; the body tries to conserve heat by transporting larger volumes of blood to the heart, lungs and other organs near the center of the body which causes constriction in the blood vessels along the arms, legs, shoulders and knee joints. Another theory says that during cold weather there is a change in barometric pressure that causes an inflammatory response in the joints which leads to increased joint pains derived from changes in circulation and nerve fiber sensitivity. Proper evidence is still required to either confirm or deny these claims, but no matter what causes winter aches and stiffness, there is a way to avoid such consequences. Warming up properly before working out and wearing the appropriate attire can help to avoid the situation. And for the knee, wearing knee sleeves can help warm up the area and allow for better blood circulation because of its compression element.
To the athletes involved in sports demanding heavy or complex knee movement here are some benefits in wearing knee sleeves. Knee sleeves are effective when doing activities like CrossFit, an exercise routine that requires the person to do many sporadic motions like squat jumps, double-unders, snatches and other types of movement that entail rigorous knee actions. This will help reduce the burdens on the knee and prevent the knee from getting injuries. Lifting heavy weights can injure the knees, but knee sleeves can help individuals lift heavier weights because the sleeves protect and stabilize the knee for maximum performance. The body can rest well on the knees and can stand upright with the support of knee accessories like knee sleeves and braces. This is why it is so useful for athletes after every game; they can use knee sleeves during their recovery period. It will ensure shorter recovery times because knee sleeves help blood circulation flow efficiently and smoothly through the body. It can also be used daily to ensure that a person will have correct knee posture.
The primary differences between knee braces and sleeves are that braces provide a protective cushioning that absorbs shock and stabilizes irregular motion for the anterior knee and patella; sleeves don’t have this type of support capability, meaning if you have an unstable knee condition, sleeves are not the correct solution. It would be better to visit the doctor or an orthopedic surgeon and look further into the matter because there is a high possibility that knee swelling and pain can mean problems in the future.
Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. Please contact a licensed physician for a proper diagnosis of your specific case.