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Knee injuries can end careers. Tearing an ACL in particular can seriously derail your hopes and dreams of winning competitions or fighting successfully in a cage.
This isn’t hyperbole. Many athletes have had to quit their MMA and BJJ careers completely after suffering a serious knee injury. Even more athletes have gotten injured and been left a mere shadow of their former self when the finally compete again after a lengthy layoff.
Now, sometimes ACL tears and other knee injuries can happen at once. You fall funny or land awkwardly when trying to stop a takedown and you hear a crack. Followed by what is normally a very large amount of pain. From this point, you’re looking at surgeries, knee casts and months off of the mat. Not good.
There are things you can do to avoid injuring your precious knees like making sure you’re fully warmed up and that the muscles and ligaments in your legs are strong and sturdy but there’s no guarantee of 100% safety. Training and competing in MMA and BJJ is tough and there’s always going to be an element of danger and risk to it. But there are some ways you can mitigate damage.
If you already have sore, injury prone knees than you should definitely invest in a knee sleeve or two. Even if your knees are fine, it’s still a great idea to wear them as a preventative measure.
After all, you don’t stick your mouth-guard in after your teeth have been knocked out, do you?
You can buy knee sleeves in most sporting goods stores but they’re sometimes generic and sub-par, with companies just making them to cash in. Though most knee sleeves will work, you’re best off buying a sleeve that is specifically made for the sport of MMA just to be safe.
Best Knee Sleeves
We’ve made a list of the top 5 knee sleeves on the market.
Venum "Kontact" Lycra/Gel Knee Pads, Black, X-Large
The padding covers the entire knee cap to protect you when shooting in for a takedown or doing groundwork on your knees without restricting your movement or manoeuvrability. You’ll be able to work your guard and your triangles without the extra padding getting in the way.
These will work perfectly fine underneath your gi trousers too. It’s best to hand wash them after use to prevent the iconic Venum emblem from peeling off but you can also just throw them in the washing machine with the rest of your gear as well.
Even if you’re only buy the knee sleeves because you have a problem with one knee, they come as a pair. You can choose to wear both to be extra careful or you could even take turns using either pads on the same knee so they stay fresher for longer.
RDX Knee Compression Sleeve
This is a smaller, more low-profile knee sleeve from the company, RDX.
If you want the extra knee support but are concerned about losing mobility, then this is the sleeve that you’ll want. Now, none of the sleeves are on this list will inhibit your BJJ or MMA game, but this sleeve is particularly small and sleek.
This sleeve is sold individually, which is great if you really only need a single sleeve.
It provides a snug and comfortable, fit that provides more than adequate support but without cutting off the blood circulation. They can be used for exercises like running or weight lifting as well as training MMA.
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One of the things that can cause knee problems is having weak supporting muscles and ligaments. For example, if you have particularly weak quads then the ligaments around your knee will have to compensate for them, leading to overuse and then injury.
This long compression sleeve from Viper alleviates these problems by protecting both the knee and the surrounding areas like your upper thigh and even your shins. It keeps your quads and hamstrings as well as your knee warm and protected so that your risk of injury is greatly reduced.
A common concern is that a sleeve that long will be difficult to hold in place, but you need not worry. The sleeve has a non-slip inner silicone strip to stop the sleeve from slipping off. No matter how hard you’re rolling.
KO Sports Gear Black and Grey Knee Pad
KO Sports Gear sell this terrific pad in a wide variety of sizes, including children sizes, so you can choose the exact model to fit you perfectly. This sleeve is designed to move with your knee joint so you’ll be able to move and react fast without the sleeve restricting your movement.
The entire sleeve is padded out with extra padding around the knee cap. Drilling double legs and other shoot takedowns can really wear down your knees but with these you can take shot after shot without having to stop due to the soreness.
Meister MMA Knee Wraps
This knee wrap from Meister MMA is a bit different from the others on this list.
Now, every knee injury is different. Every knee is different. Most sleeves are made to accommodate a whole host problems and provide support and safety to the knee as a whole.
But if you have a specific problem area around your knee that needs even more support, then these knee wraps are for you.
You wrap them round your knee just like you would a hand wrap before a boxing or Muay Thai session. When you wrap your hands, you most likely put extra padding around your knuckles or your wrist or wherever you as an individual have a specific weakness.
It’s the exact same with these knee wraps.
For example, if the area just above your knee cap often twinges and aches during practice, then add an extra layer or two of padding there when putting on your wraps. If you plan on using your knee wraps for weight training too, then these would be your best bet as they are commonly used by power lifters and strength trainers when attempting personal bests.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, knee injuries can be absolutely disastrous.vThey can impede and hamper not only your training but your entire life in general.
It really is so easy to just chuck a pair of knee sleeves on and enjoy all that added protection.vYou could try sparring without a mouth-guard in and you would probably be ok… for that one session, but why risk it?
It’s absolutely no different with knee wraps. Get a pair, put them on, be safe.