Does Knee Bracing Prevent Injury? Dr. Kickass says NO!

Last updated on 12.02.2023 by

If you are unfamiliar with the Instagram account @docotor_kickass, then you should look him up right now. Mike Piekarski is a Physical Therapist who frequently trains Jiu Jitsu, and is a former MMA fighter. He uses his Instagram account to post explanations on injuries, the latest research, and information to help BJJ trainers plan for longevity.  

On January eleventh, he made a surprising post questioning the authenticity of Knee Braces, and whether they actually help prevent injury or not. If you are someone who trains frequently, then undoubtedly you know someone who trains with a knee brace religiously. But according to three studies cited in his post, knee pads don’t prevent any new jury, or provide any support. 

What are the Studies Cited? 

What sets Mike Piekarski apart from other Instagram accounts is that he cites scholarly sources in his post. For this post, Pierski cites three studies that you can read the abstracts of here: 

  1. Mysnyk MD 
  2. G Bottoni 
  3. Neetu Rishiraj

In the case of Neetu Rishira, from the University of Otego in New Zealand, he estimates that 60% of all sports-related injuries are knee injuries. This is one of the reasons why BJJ and wrestling practitioners are so obsessed with creating a strategy for the long term when it comes to training. Injuries are expensive, painful, and can take you off the mat for a long time. 

What do These Studies Say About Knee Bracing? 

Knee Bracing

These studies are largely based on wrestlers. Following them around and recording the injuries they receive training, and detriments received to the knee by taking shots or by defending takedowns. While these studies don’t have any information on the support provided to the knee, none of them found any data that said knee braces prevent injury. 

Piekarski then says that wearing a knee brace makes it more challenging to escape leg entanglements and makes it more difficult to do a knee slice to pass someone’s guard. In short, they are actually detrimental during rolling. He says he believes this in his professional and personal experience. 


Needless to say, this post was met with resistance by people in the comments. The most common reply was that knee sleeves can signal to training partners about a prior injury. Even with the knowledge that they may not actually help physically, they do help people know to go light on the leg. 

If Knee Braces Don’t Work, What does? 

Trying to prevent injury is one of the biggest challenges for hardcore BJJ practitioners. Thankfully, there have been more answers than ever before to help mitigate risk. It is actually possible to help condition your joints with strength training to make them more resilient on the mat. If you would like some tips, you should follow @kneesovertoesguy on Instagram. 

He has developed many helpful knee-strengthening workouts like the backward sled pull to help condition knees for sports. You should also check out our article on knee injuries to help familiarize yourself with the most common knee injuries for BJJ.