The Art of Knee Wrapping
Knee Wraps – Understanding and learning how to wrap them is a true art form. Wrapped too tight and they can cause irritation or damage during the squat. Wrapped too light and they won’t be having much effect.
So how do they work? What wrap is the best to use? What style of wrap is best suited for me? These are typical questions I get asked as a coach when someone begins their journey into powerlifting. We don’t want to jump into the stiffest pair we can get our hands on.
First and foremost, wraps like anything in this sport have a progression to them, once you and your coach agree that you are ready for wraps then you can start asking the above questions. My advice is to learn how to squat raw first before adding in another element of knee wraps.
Let’s begin by breaking down what knee wraps are and how they work?
What are they?
Knee wraps are a consistent thickness of material and range in lengths of 2-3m. They are made up of a polyester/canvas material and thin rubber woven within them to provide more elasticity.
**It is very important to note that different powerlifting federations have different rules regarding the length of wraps that can be used. Please double check with the federation rule book before purchasing wraps.
How do they work?
The wraps work by adding additional stability to the knee joint through the compression it provides. During the eccentric (down) phase of the squat the wrap gets put on stretch and as a result stores more potential energy to provide more drive out of the hole of the squat as the lifter ascends.
Over my years in the sport of powerlifting I have worked with many different athletes at all different levels and there definitely is NOT a one size fits all approach into choosing a wrap or the way we wrap the athlete. Before we can choose a wrap for ourselves, or as a coach recommend one for our athletes. We must take into account some considerations.
** NEVER WRAP ON THE CALF MUSCLE. Too much constriction around the calf will most likely cause tears within the calf.
Now let’s look at the individual.
If the athlete has short, stumpier legs with big quads and a very solid knee joint the wrap needs to be more spread out in terms of coverage of the knee itself. This will prevent a lot of the wrap bunching behind the knee and the lifter doesn’t require the most amount of compression as the knee is very well supported by the quads.
A skinny, lanky limbed lifter with a thinner knee joint (aka me) requires a more compressed and tighter knee wrap providing more stability and support to the structure of the knee. What you will find here is a significantly tighter wrap and more bunch behind the knee, this can cause the lifter to have a higher perception of where depth is, so encouraging the lifter to be conscious of this and mindful to push deeper into the wrap.
Ok but I still don’t know how to wrap? I’m sure you are asking this by now.
I wrap in three specific variations depending what I believe best suits the lifter and level they are at i.e. beginner, intermediate or advanced.
The wrap shouldn’t be so tight that it changes the whole squat mechanics you execute without them. Start light and find your style.
I will be placing how to wraps video on our YouTube channel to accompany this.
**Note I always wrap from the inside of the leg to the outside.
We don’t need the most hectic tight wrap to begin with, just want to put it on and allow you to get used to what the wrap feels like. Here my go to wrap for a beginner.
1 – Wrap around the quad ONCE to begin the wrap
2 – Wrap diagonally across the knee joint
3 – Wrap around the base of the knee joint (just off the calf)
4 – Spiral 3 – 4 times up for desired tightness (more revolutions may be used for a tighter wrap)
5 – Tie off with remaining wrap
This is a pretty gentle and standard wrap and will give you a solid foundation of wrap to build on.
Intermediate & Advanced
Two options here
The above with 2-3 diagonal crosses first to create an X over the knee joint before you spiral up. Or option 2
1 – Wrap around the base of the knee ONCE to begin the wrap (off the calf)
2 – Spiral up 3 more revolutions
3 – Cross the knee diagonally ONCE
4 – Wrap around the base of the wrap where we first began
5 – Cross up the knee diagonally ONCE
6 – Wrap around the quad and pull through the remaining wrap to lock and tie off.
**Intermediate and advanced lifter may never stray away from the beginner wrap suggested here. They may just advance with tighter wraps.
**All video links to YouTube tutorials can be found at the bottom of this article.
**Important to note that most federations allow for the wrap to cover a total of 30cm over the knee in length. Please check the federation’s rule book for exact distance allowed, some federations may vary.
Click Here to see Knee Wrapping Tutorial Video
What wrap should you choose?
To make this a bit simpler I’ve added a table below giving suggestions of wraps I recommend based of the style of squatter you are and the level you are at.
These are the wraps I’ve used or experimented with plus many more over the years. The ones listed are my preferred wraps. The most versatile wrap that could suit almost any intermediate or advanced lifter is definitely the LillieBridge Knee Wraps made by the LillieBridge Family.
For more information or any questions regarding the above please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us @epic_coaching on Instagram.