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Wrestling Knee Pads: The Question of Performance

Posted on September 19, 2012 , by chris

Among the wrestling community there is a perennial debate on the value of knee pads for wrestling.  While the importance of knee pads for those with injury is unquestioned, and some wrestlers opt to wear a knee pad as protection for their knee, many wrestlers wear knee pads on the basis that they improve performance on the mat.  The arguments that these guys make are simple: a knee pad allows a wrestler to slide with less friction and bounce off the mat during a shot, or a knee pad compresses the knee and allows a wrestler better lateral movement.  These assertions make for a pretty convincing argument, but not everybody is convinced.

Wrestlers Face a Tough Decision When Choosing Knee Pads for Wrestling

A faction of wrestlers makes the argument every year that knee pads are hot and too constricting to move effectively on the mat.  Where the pro-knee pad side sees slicker shots, these folks imagine less fluid penetration steps.  Rather than quicker lateral movement, they predict a more awkward stance.  These are people who call knee pads “clunky” and “bulky”.  They see a wrestler with bubble knee pads wrestling and cannot imagine that he is not encumbered by the extra padding.  But is a wrestler with a knee pad (or two) really at a disadvantage? Given the quality of current knee pad technology, probably not.

In designing and producing the latest line of knee pads, manufacturers Asics, Brute, Cliff Keen and Adidas have made use of a number of remarkable technological advances.  For instance, the latest Cliff Keen knee pad, the Wraptor 2.0, updates the classic lycra design with better ventilation and stitching to improve fit. The Brute Torq uses an advanced energy-absorbing material that is less bulky and more lightweight.  The aptly-named Asics Unrestrained is a high-tech improvement on bubble knee pads of the past in that it uses Kinetofoam to produce a lighter, cooler, and more flexible pad.  These wrestling knee pads are not the bulky, stuffy hindrances that you might imagine.  There is a reason so many wrestlers choose to wear knee pads: they feel better on the mat.  And while knee pads might not be for everyone, it might not hurt to give one of these new ones a try.

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