Does Knee Bracing Prevent Injury in BJJ?

Does Knee Bracing Prevent Injury in BJJ?

1. Knee Injury in BJJ

Knee injury is widespread in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Knee injuries occur due to the external twisting or bending forces on the knee applied by the opponent. Knee injuries can keep you off the mats for an extended period and may even end your jiu-jitsu career if not treated properly. However, you can prevent knee injury with proper care and precautions. There are many types of knee injuries in BJJ, but knee sprain is the most common and least painful injury.

1.1. Common Causes of BJJ Knee Injury

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, your moves can become the cause of knee injury. Sometimes you make some dynamic moves that your body is unable to support.  Below are some common causes of knee injury:

  • Heel Hook: Most injuries in jiu-jitsu are because of external twisting or bending forces applied to the knee. Twisting usually occurs when you make abrupt movements while your leg is locked by your opponent in a  heel hook.
  • Shooting: Throwing your knee hard on the mat while attempting a takedown can also cause serious knee injuries. 
  • Guard Passing: Attempting an open guard with an extended leg that is locked by your opponent can also cause serious knee injuries. Lack of hip mobility and flexibility may also contribute to knee injuries as all the pressure is endured by your legs. 

1.2. Symptoms of Knee Injury

Here are some of the common symptoms of BJJ knee injuries: The common symptoms of knee injury are usually prominent, some of them include:

  • Swelling
  • Knee pain
  • Bruising
  • Clicking sounds
  • Locking

2. Knee Bracing in Jiu-Jitsu

Knee Bracing helps grapplers prevent knee injury. Knee bracing is a cheap method of preventing severe knee injuries on the mat. It not only reinforces your knee but also helps you feel more comfortable on the mats. Knee bracing reduces pain and lifts your weight off the injured knee area. It also improves your ability to get around and walk comfortably.

2.1. Does Knee Bracing Prevent Injury?

Knee braces reduce pain and swelling, and support the knee joints to prevent further injury. Knee bracing can help alleviate pain caused by osteoarthritis, which is a complex condition involving the entire joint. A knee brace can help in taking pressure off the joint injured from osteoarthritis and help relieve pain.

2.2. Types of Knee Bracing

There are four types of knee braces, prophylactic, functional, rehabilitative, and unloader/offloader knee braces. Each category has a different function and should be used in different circumstances.

  • Prophylactic Knee Braces: Prophylactic knee braces are made to prevent knee injuries and reduce pain. Prophylactic braces are widely used by athletes and grapplers to protect the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) while also protecting the recovering knee joints from being injured again.
  • Functional Knee Braces: Functional knee braces are used to protect the already injured knee joints from further injuries. They can also be used to reduce mild to moderate MCL or PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) instability.
  • Rehabilitative Knee Braces: Rehabilitative knee braces are useful in restricting potentially harmful knee movements during recovery from a recent knee injury. They are also helpful in protecting the knee from future injuries.
  • Unloader/Offloader Knee Braces: Unloader/Offloader knee braces provide relief to arthritis patients, especially those suffering from osteoarthritis. These braces work by placing pressure on the thigh bone to take off stress from the affected joint.

2.3. Reasons to Wear a Knee Brace

There are two major reasons to use a knee brace:

  • Structural support: Knee braces provide support ligaments around the inside and outside of the knee. They are highly recommended to BJJ athletes who have an ACL tear. Pain Relief: A knee brace offers pain relief after an extensive training session in the BJJ gym.

2.4. Risks of Wearing a Knee Brace

Risks of wearing knee braces may include:

  • A knee brace can make your knees feel heavy and hot. A loose-fit brace can slip and cause general discomfort.
  • They might cause irritation and redness.
  • Wearing a knee brace can cause stiffness in your joints.
  • Wearing knee braces can sometimes cause discomfort or restrict your range of motion to perform certain moves in BJJ ultimately affecting your BJJ performance.

3. Different Ways Knee Bracing Prevents Injury in BJJ

 Knee bracing is often recommended by physiotherapists because it can help speed up recovery. Listed below are five ways way knee brace prevents knee injury in BJJ:

  1. Improving your pace: Knee braces help you walk smoothly which is the best way to relieve pain or prevent injury. As you stride, a knee brace helps you rebuild strength in the affected area making you perform effectively in BJJ
  2. Provide Stability: A knee brace provides stability and support to the affected knee throughout various movements. In BJJ, to perform techniques like De la Riva guard requires stability for which a brace is beneficial.   
  3. Reduce Stress: A knee brace reduces stress and strain on the knee joint during bulky or weight-bearing activities and prevents injury. Unloader braces reduce pain in your knee joint by shifting your weight off the most affected area of your joint from bone-on-bone pressure. In BJJ, moves like the ankle lock can cause stress in the ankle which can be prevented by wearing a brace. 
  4. Firm Compression: If you are experiencing swelling in your knee, then a knee brace is a good option since it provides firm compression to the tissues around your knee to control swelling.
  5. Structural support: If you are suffering from an ACL tear or ligament injury, functional braces help by providing additional support in an unstable knee to reduce pain. They protect the knee joints by reducing forward-back or side-to-side movement of the knee. If you want to continue your BJJ training with the injury, wearing a brace is necessary.

4. Best Knee Braces for Jiu-Jitsu

When buying a keen brace for jiu-jitsu training sessions, look at the following qualities:

  • Support
  • Comfort
  • Quality
  • Durability
  • Affordability.

4.1. Hinged Knee Brace

A hinged knee brace is widely used in Jiu-Jitsu as it provides maximal support to the knees.  It  significantly reduces the risk of sustaining ligament injuries and also helps with soreness and pain. In addition, a hinged knee brace can mimic the natural movement of your knees due to their dual pivoting lateral stabilizers.

4.2. Slip-On Knee Braces:

 A slip-on knee brace is the most common type of knee bracing. As the name suggests, they slip on the knee like a tube and provide flexibility. They compress the joint alleviate pain in the knee and offer added protection. It is widely used because it is soft, comfortable, and lighter in weight compared to other braces. It helps with mild knee pain, mild swelling, and even prevention of future injury.

4.3. Open/Closed Patella Knee Braces

As the name suggests, a patella knee brace is used to prevent patella knee injuries. An open patella knee brace has a small hole in its front, which helps support the kneecap and maintain proper alignment. Whereas, a closed patella knee brace offers additional compression instead of the hole, providing additional support to the kneecap.

5. Should Knee Bracing be Used for BJJ Training?

In jiu-jitsu, knee bracing is very important especially if you have weak knees or have sustained injuries in the past. It not only strengthens your knee but also makes you more comfortable on the mats whether you are training or competing. So, it is recommended to wear knee braces to prevent knee injury in BJJ. When attempting joint locks, your knee joints and cartilage are likely to get injured or sprained... Though a knee brace is a useful safety gear, some people prefer not to wear it during training as they feel restricted. Therefore, whether to wear knee braces is a personal choice of the grappler. if he wants it or not.

6. FAQs

6.1. Will wearing a knee brace ease my knee pain?

A knee brace can help in reducing knee pain by taking pressure off the most affected part of your knee joint. It also provides extra support and stability which helps in relieving pain. Knee braces may also help by providing compression and warmth to your knee injury.

6.2. Does a knee brace weaken the knee?

No, a knee brace does not weaken the knee. However, if the knee brace is restricting motion, it may slow down blood flow leading to muscular atrophy.

6.3. Are knee braces helpful?

Yes. Knee braces are quite helpful as they reduce knee injuries and pain.

6.4. When should you wear a knee brace?

Knee braces are usually recommended by physicians for those who have an ACL tear or some type of knee injury, but you can also wear them to prevent injury and provide additional support to your knee.

7. Conclusion

Hence, knee bracing is an effective and inexpensive method to prevent injury. It can only provide additional support and stability to your knees to compete with confidence. Hinged and Open/Closed Patella knee braces are proven to be best for maximizing the performance of BJJ athletes.

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