Knee Compressions Good?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by game, Feb 9, 2020.

  1. game


    I have had off and on knee pain for a few years ever since I prematurely upped the weight trying to hit a squat PR.

    I can't run for a long time before the knee starts complaining. Knee compressions have helped. When I wear compression supports, I can run for a longer time.

    Does the advantage of being able to do more by wearing knee compressions in the short term have an adverse effect on the joints in the long run? Are the compressions merely masking immediate pain at the risk of making things worse off in the long run?
  2. speedo


    The important thing is to learn to "listen" to your is key. The hazard is the compression is doing some of the work of the supporting muscle and tendon of the compressed joint. That can lead to weakness and imbalance.
  3. game


    Yeah regarding the imbalance part - I recently wore a knee brace on a steep hike and the downhill section really took a toll on me. The knee felt quite off post hike - as if the long hours of hiking with a knee brace had put the entire joint in an unnatural position.

    I guess I will use a knee sleeve and focus on keeping the run intensity up with the mileage down for now and see how it goes. Thanks for your reply.
  4. Baron

    Baron ET Founder

    If you need help from an artificial device like a compression sleeve to engage in an activity that you wouldn't be able to do with the same intensity otherwise, then you're probably doing yourself more harm than good over the long term. So my advice would be to find a physical activity that you can do which isn't so intense that you need a knee brace to do it.

    For example, my knees are definitely my weak points. After doing a set of heavy squats one day, I felt a serious strain in my right knee. I had felt it in varying degrees many times before but this particular occasion was the most painful to date. That's when I realized that maybe squats just aren't the best leg exercise for my body's geometry and joints. So these days I do 4 or 5 sets of leg extensions to thoroughly warm up my knees with the first set being very light and each set thereafter getting progressively heavier while still keeping the light enough that I can do 15 - 20 reps.

    Then after that warm-up is over, I will move on to doing several sets of leg presses with a medium-level weight, all to failure. My legs get sufficient stimulation that way but without the knee pain associated with doing heavy squats. Sure, I could throw on some knee wraps and do a lot more weight, but like speedo said, you've got to listen to your body and not override what it's telling you by wearing braces.
  5. I used do do leg extensions as one of four upper leg exercises when I did fairly high volume training years ago. But my understanding now is that leg extensions are not very knee friendly. (Full disclosure: my knees were never compromised despite years of extensions.) And so, just for the sake of argument, rather than give up squats because they hurt one of your knees when you go heavy, why not warm up with lighter squats rather than lighter extensions before you go medium-heavy on leg presses?

    P.S. Several sets of leg presses? I recall you upped your volume a bit a while back, but "several?" How many sets do you presently do per muscle group and how often? And what prompted the change?
  6. game


    I tried switching to Dumbbell squats but it still felt off. So I have cut those off now. Good point on recognizing that one's proportions may not be the best for Squats. Although, I do miss the feeling of squatting :(

    I have been working the lower body by running at a steep incline on the treadmill. The shuffling movement compared to the impact of longer strides is easier on the knees. Thanks for your feedback. Never tried leg presses so will get that a try.
  7. Are you sure you're doing squats properly? You probably are, but it's worth taking a moment to reflect and be sure. Someone recently posted a ~2-minute video in another thread of the 3 most common mistakes people make when doing squats. In a nutshell, they comprise lifting your heels at the bottom of the movement (or resting your heels on a 5 or 10-lb plate), moving your knees too far forward past your toes at the bottom of the movement (these 2 errors are fairly related), and, finally, allowing one or both of your knees to come closer together during the movement, thereby misaligning the direction of your knees and your toes. This latter mistake is especially easy to make with heavier weights.

    I don't recall which thread has that squat mistake video, but I do have this one, which shows proper form for body weight squats (adding weight doesn't really change the mechanics):

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
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  8. game


    I think so - at least as far as those 3 main errors. I was able to squat for a fairly long time with no issues. In fact, I believe squats helped me get rid of some nagging sciatic pain. Unfortunately, I pushed it a little too much in trying to chase the weights and tweaked the knee. Hasn't been the same since.

    Tried to do lighter squats with strict attention to form but no luck.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  9. Fair enough. I just wanted to rule out a few possibilities. But it looks like you have the matter in hand. Good luck, and take care of that knee.
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