T Nation

Knee Braces for BJJ


I have been told I should consider wearing a knee brace at BJJ, maybe even two of them, and I was wondering what you thought about that? I've got one of those magnetised ones somewhere which I used to wear for rugby, but I have always shied away from using it because I don't want to become dependent on it. Now though my knees burn like hell through my BJJ sessions, so I was wondering if I should use it.

To level with you I have no scientific evidence to back up my worry that my knees will become dependent on the brace, I just know that I was always told only to put boots on a horse when it really needed them, or its tendons would be weakened by the support they were getting, so I assumed it was the same for people! So what do you think, should I maybe wear a brace or two in class, but not for my S+C work?


Neoprene knee sleaves can be a good idea for protecting your knees against matt burn and also giving some support (they also help your grip in Nogi)

Anything with a solid part in it is a bad idea as it just adds the the torque on the knee joint as you turn.

I have had two meniscus tears in my left knee, I tend to use sleaves if I am feeling any pain. Most of the time I don't use any these days as it is a pain to keep pulling them up.


I know exactly how you feel about becoming dependent on the brace. I've dislocated my left kneecap 4 times now so a brace for me is pretty much a necessity until I can get my own health insurance and get to an orthopedic specialist and see what they can do. I do all my strength training without it so I figure that the stabilization and strength work I do should keep me from becoming totally dependent on it. However at practice it's not worth taking the risk of being out of training to recover if it goes out again.


I injured my knee, I don't exactly know how as it just hurt like hell one day when I squatted down at a store to get something on a lower shelf. It might have been a simple accumulation of all the things I'd done up to that point and, like too many hard headed men, ignoring the little aches and pains that go with training.

Anyway, I started to wear a brace for BJJ but not for lifting. I believe, and I'm not alone in this of course, that squatting and DLing and other exercises are actually good for your knees. I know that when I was at Basic Training I couldn't lift for almost 6 months and all we basically did for legs was run and march. I started to feel it in my knees as time went on. Once I got back home and was able to lift again I noticed that the pain was gone, knee and shoulder.

Back to BJJ: I would wear the brace because I felt that the positions you get into are more likely to cause or aggravate an injury. With lifting you have more control over the movement and it's obviously a more stable environment.

Once my knee felt better I stopped wearing it, this was several years ago, and haven't needed it since. So my advice is to use lifting and other training methods to strengthen and rehab your knee but wear the brace when rolling since you can't control the stress that your knee might undergo.


Volleyball knee pads are awesome for ground work, especially during long training sessions. The padding provides great protection from mat burn, reduces pressure against the knee cap, and keeps you from grinding your knee certain starts like One Up:One Down. Plus they keep you knees nice and warm, which is a big part of why knee sleeves/wraps are great for squatting.


The advice to wear kneepads/sleeves was the best advice you ever got. my wrestling coach told me to start wearing knee pads or he would beat my ass like he paid by the hour. And it wasn't about knee strength, tendons or any of the usual things you would think you'd wear pads for, It's because your knee joint gets a lot of percussion and twisting over the course of grappling.

Every time you go for a low freestyle take down your knee clips the floor. Bang. Your need to post out. what so you use? knee, elbow, foot or hand.

And in BJJ It's much more exaggerated because you are always on your knees, even when you are just drilling technique your patella is having to deal with all kinds of force that it has no idea what to do with.

And in addition to that the neoprene sleeves keep your knees warm from the warm up to the end. Without them your ligaments and tendons [low blood flow] will cool off easily once its technique time and your not moving hard and fast.

So whether your knees actively hurt or not you should wear sleeves just to keep them warm and protect them from percussion from the mat. Smashing your patella off the floor is how that shit gets dislocated and then no training or any fun for you.

I also did a little test where I wore my sleeves for 2 months of squatting and then squatted for 2 months without and my squat numbers were the same. The sleeves get you a little elasticity but other than that you either have strong knees or you dont. the presence of sleeves for 8 weeks did not create any dependency in my highly subjective testing.

When i spar against newbs in rotating partner drills I always tell them that if they dont buy knee sleeves for training then I will tap them mercilessly and in embarrassing fashions. But if they do then I am far less a dick. Yes i know im sure ill be a bad parent.



brute and asics are the best brands. keep them nice and lean in profile. too much volleyball type padding will piss you off.

if they arent wrestling specific then they are likely shit for grappling and will get fucked up quick.



neoprene knee sleeves.

I didn't start wearing them for bjj until my knees started feeling torqued. now I don't go without them.

McDavids are the best imo. If you don't have knee problems, get the Level 1 or Level 1+ protection, with the patellar cut-out to hold the pattella in place. They work perfectly.

They keep the joint warm and supported.


True nuff.

Forgot about these. hard to find IRL so look on the internet. The Mcdavids also help take any frontal pressure of the patella. Frontal pressure is the only scientific logic against any knee sleeve. So there you go as far as science goes your through. Any other claims against knee sleeve are BOOLSHEET. And the frontal patellar pressure claim is super loose. Kinda from-the-hip-science in a sense.

Also if your knees are fuct then i think the McDave's offer all kinds of soft-form side structures. These are great because they aren't the hard plastic side structure that other pads have in them. You cant really grapple with any kind of hard structure internal or externally on your knee gear.



^^^^ Well, I guess I've been converted. I originally thought the whole knee brace thing was stupid, but the more guard I play, the more my knees hurt and make popping noises. Is this the McDavid sleeves you guys would recommend?:



That's what I wear every time I train. When my knee was hyperextended I used he brace with the cross straps until it got better.

If the knee is feeling a little punky I wear the #404.

Yes, I have a bag of braces. I buy mine at Sports Authority.


That or the wrestling specific #410 if you do a lot of take down work. the sextra padding is worth while by far. Some times a quick shot with the open patella can get you a mad burn if you train in shorts.



Great points Chris...

I wore a brand I cant find in college
all the time, in practice/training,
I think in matches (wrestling) I eventually did not wear them.
But I still dont have hair on my knees,
many many years later.
In Judo and Bjj I would use the open patella style and your right its about protection
injury prevention



I should have said McDavid knee pads. Just all knee/elbow pads are kept in the volley ball section of our little sports store, so they got dubbed the same.


K, I've been wearing the sleeves without pads for a couple days...I gotta say, my knees feel a lot better than they were. I may look into the ones with neo prene padding as well, but so far so good...they definitely support the knee in the lateral direction where I was experiencing some pain when rolling with larger guys.


So seeing as A) I live in a country where hardly anyone does wrestling, so wrestling knee pads are hard to come by and B) I mostly train gi (hoping to start one session a week of wrestling, but it could be a pipe dream), should i be looking for padding or will a neoprene sleeve do?