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Knee Wraps and Wrapping

By Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D.

Fred 1003 squat
See Dr. Fred Hatfield squat over 1000lbs. Click Fred

(Notice his belt, not even tightened.)

There are two theories behind manufacturing knee wraps.
The most prevalent theory is that a heavily elastic wrap is best,
which I don't agree with because too much fabric behind the knees
of smaller guys screws up their knees. With this kind of wrap,
you must get 'em on as tight as possible.
Stretch 'em as close to the limit of elasticity as you can
because the moment you begin squatting, the wraps "give."
At that point, they become less than supportive despite how tight they feel.

The second theory (which I ascribe to) is that the wrap must stretch out
to as long a length as possible (at least 20 feet).
That means that whatever elastic you use in them,
they nonetheless must shrink to a legal 2 meter length.
Getting the wrap around your knees as many times as possible has an obvious advantage.
More support means more poundage in the squat.
With less elastic, you are able to get them on REALLY tight without having to worry
about the elastic stretching when the act of squatting stretches them.
When standing, they may feel less tight than highly elastic wraps,
but the moment you begin squatting they do not give and thus support you more.
On top of that, for you lifters who like to put your own knee wraps on before lifting
(as did I), you won't wear yourself out putting this kind of wrap on
nearly as much as you would with the highly elastic ones.

Your choice of the wrap you use is important. Here's how to judge... The heavier the wrap (weigh it on a small food scale) the better. Usually that means that there's more material (and thus more support). Also, the rules allow the wrap to be 2 meters in length...measure it! Always use NEW wraps in competition, as they stretch longer than the allowable limit after use, and you'll have to cut them (that means less material and less support). Now stretch the wrap to it's full length and measure it. A good wrap will stretch close to 20 feet...bad wraps only stretch about 12-14 feet. The myth is that you need real strong elasticity. NONSENSE! You need FABRIC! NOT rubber! In the hole, fabric will give you support, whereas rubber will give.

Here's the best way to put on a wrap, regardless of which you own...
Start at the top, 2-3 times around the quadriceps tendon (pinning that tendon to the underlying bone, thereby improving leverage). Criss-cross the knee 3-5 times (depending on the size of your knees), so as to avoid getting too much fabric behind the knee joint, and also to provide greater support when descending. Then do a couple at the bottom to pin the wraps in place, and end up at the top with about 5 inches of wrap left. Tuck the excess under the first layer of wraps above the knee, as this will give the illusion of a deeper squat when viewed from the side. Leave a piece of the end sticking out so that the wrap can be released after squatting with a mere flick. Be sure to chalk the wraps well...impregnate a lot of chalk dust into the wraps beforehand to minimize fabric slippage and thereby maximizing the wrap's support.

(Editor's note: It is widely accepted that starting to wrap at the bottom is very effective also.)

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