Wearing Knee Wraps Affects Mechanical Output and Performance Characteristics of Back Squat Exercise

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Abstract

Lake, JP, Carden, PJC, and Shorter, KA. Wearing knee wraps affects mechanical output and performance characteristics of back squat exercise. J Strength Cond Res 26(10): 2844–2849, 2012—The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of wearing knee wraps on mechanical output and performance characteristics of back squat exercise. Ten resistance trained men (back squat 1 repetition maximum [1RM]: 160.5 ± 18.4 kg) performed 6 single back squats with 80% 1RM, 3 wearing knee wraps, 3 without. Mechanical output was obtained from ground reaction force, performance characteristics from digitized motion footage obtained from a single high-speed digital camera. Wearing knee wraps led to a 39% reduction (0.09 compared with 0.11 m, p = 0.037) in horizontal barbell displacement that continued during the lifting phase. Lowering phase vertical impulse remained within 1% across conditions; however, the lowering phase was performed 45% faster (1.13 compared with 1.57 seconds). This demonstrated that vertical force applied to the center of mass during the lowering phase was considerably larger and was likely a consequence of the generation and storage of elastic energy within the knee wrap. Subsequent vertical impulse applied to the center of mass was 10% greater (192 compared with 169 N·s, p = 0.018). Mechanical work involved in vertically displacing the center of mass was performed 20% faster and was reflected by a 10% increase in peak power (2,121 compared with 1,841 W, p = 0.019). The elastic properties of knee wraps increased mechanical output but altered back squat technique in a way that is likely to alter the musculature targeted by the exercise and possibly compromise the integrity of the knee joint. Knee wraps should not be worn during the strength and condition process, and perceived weakness in the knee joint should be assessed and treated.

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