A dissertation published this month (December 2016) by Cardyl Trionfante at Louisiana State University looked at the effects of knee wraps on performance in a number of measures, including vertical jump height in isolation (a popular measure of overall lower body muscle strength, also used by Wikstrom-Frisen in her study on training periodisation for female athletes), and back squat performance, with a vertical jump test also performed alongside this to ensure that vertical jump performance was not hindered by a squat protocol which used knee wraps.
The investigator found that wearing knee wraps improves backsquat performance, without hindering vertical jump performance (but it is worth noting that wearing knee wraps for vertical jumps – somewhat unsurprisingly - reduced achievable jump height).
This study is important, because a number of serious gym goers and bodybuilders will use knee wraps for support, particularly during squats and leg press exercises. Individuals who have suffered from knee injuries in the past often find them to be a good support, but can be put off by the number of people claiming that they hinder strength and power gains. Trionfante’s study demonstrates that these fears are misplaced.
It is worth noting that this study was performed on young men, and women were excluded from the study. Although the overall message is highly likely to be applicable to all, as has been shown by previous authors, the results of training protocols developed for men cannot simply be extrapolated to women.
Trionfante, C. (2016). The effects of using knee wraps on back squat and vertical jump performance. Online at: http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-11082016-024559/unrestricted/Trionfante_diss.pdf