I find It somewhat ironic that I would be blogging about knee bands while I’m sidelined by nothing other than a knee injury. Alas, it was a request, and my first one at that.
Disclaimer: Knee bands will not PREVENT you from injury. Proper instruction and form will guide you there, but there are always risks in sports.
Now that we have that out of the way, I can go on with my post. I’ve got patellar tendonitis in my left knee. Some day’s its bad, some day’s its tolerable, but it’s never fully gone away since I started feeling it in March. In an effort to try to subdue the pain, I tried out pretty much all the main brands of knee support that weightlifters use. The main three were Tommy Kono bands, the grey (5mm) Rehbands, and blue (7mm) Rehbands. While none of them fully ended the pain, they did make it more manageable. Furthermore, I don’t believe any of them will increase your strength during your lifts, if that’s what you’re here for. The bands are simply there for support of the knee, providing compression and a bit more stability and warmth. Anyways, enough talk, let’s get down to each in particular.
- Tommy Kono TK Knee Bands ($40/pair) – The first one that I started with, mainly because of the price point. $40 get’s you a pair of them; half the price of the Rehbands since those are sold individually. Like the saying goes though, “you get what you pay for”. While they do the job in providing support, they’re just not very comfortable. The non- contoured (tapered) fit leaves a big gap in the band behind your knee when you’re standing with your leg straight. When you squat, the bands bunch up behind your knee. What I hated particularly the most about TK bands was the fact that they’re not lined on the inside, exposing the rubbery neoprene. Sweat builds up in there and just feels disgusting. From a crossfitter’s standpoint, WOD’ing in these is just not fun. On top of all this, I’ve heard tons of stories of the stitching coming off within a few months; I’ve seen it happen as well. If you’re serious about your knees (which you definitely should be), you might as well invest in something better, that will last you longer.
- Rehband 7751 (Grey 5mm – $37 each) – After ditching the TK bands, this is what I ended up with. They’re, in my opinion, the best looking of the bunch; if that’s what you’re going for, of course. They’re also the thinnest, making them a nice choice of knee bands to WOD in, while still giving ample support for Oly lifts and power lifts. The contoured fit on these really makes a difference in comfort as they basically mold around your knee. The lining soaks up sweat, so while the knee band will get moist over time, you won’t get that squishy feeling behind your knees. Construction is stellar, never did I see a stitch pop out or have I heard of these busting open at the seams. Care is easy as well: throw them in the washer and let them air dry. The elasticity of the sleeves never changed one time. Feeling snazzy? Flip these guys inside out and there’s a fun bubble patterned inside. Overall, as a crossfitter I’d say that these are your best bet. Why’d I get rid of these? Well I was looking for something with more of a competition fit. I probably could have gotten another pair, in a smaller size, but being who I am, I had to try something new out. (NOTE: I recommend that you size these down.)
- Rehband 7051 (Blue 7mm – $42 each) – What you’ll currently find in my gear bag, are the classic Rehband 7051’s. These have long been the mainstay of lifters, and for good reason; these things are solid and provide the greatest amount of support and comfort. The thickness of the sleeve is the same as the TK bands, but it’s once again lined like the previous Rehbands. They’re not so contoured as the 7751’s, but they’re better than the taper on the TK bands. These provide all the benefits of the 7751’s, with added stability and support. The downfall here is, that I try not to wear these when there are WOD’s with a lot of running in them. I did size them down for a competition-like fit (small), and that actually makes these cut off the circulation to my feet when I run. It’s manageable but it just doesn’t feel right. Either way, I bought these to perform lifts in, not for running. If you’re not feeling the blue that day, the insides are a sharp looking black. These are probably going to be in my bag for many years to come. I also don’t plan on having to replace them any time soon, as they’re so well constructed.
Once again, I don’t believe that knee sleeves are going to prevent injury without the use of proper form. The use of improper technique is a non-negotiable, and to be frank, just don’t be an idiot about the weight you do. That being said, if anything was designed to prolong the use of your bodily mechanics, I’m all for it. $80 is a small price to pay to have pain-free knees for the rest of your life.
NOTE: Always buy/use knee supports in pairs! Using only one knee support can lead to muscular imbalances!