We looked at 15 of the most popular knee braces on the market and considered their durability, capability, construction, materials used in making them, guarantees, instructions on how to use them properly, amount of support they offered, cost, variety of size options, customer feedback, doctor recommendations if they have any and other things as well. These three knee braces were above the rest in all of these categories. If you need a good quality, supportive knee brace, the RiptGear knee compression brace was our favorite.
Knee Brace for Running Buying Guide
Types of Knee Braces
There are several different kinds of knee braces on the market. Determining which one you need depends on several factors including whether there is a current injury, how long you need to wear the brace, if you are still experiencing knee pain, and other factors.
With all of the different choices available, you will need to do a bit of research to match the right brace to your specific needs. We have listed the common types of knee braces that are available below so you can understand the differences between them.
- Prophylactic Knee Brace – This type of knee brace is designed to protect the ACL, PCL and LCL. If you’ve ever gotten injured playing sports, this is the brace that can help you support your knee the way it needs to be. This brace is not designed to be worn during games because the limited movement will reduce your performance.
They are often worn during practices and then taken off when it is game time. Many athletes wear this type of brace when they are working out and conditioning. The majority of prophylactic knee braces utilize unilateral and bilateral bars and hinges to provide that support.
- Functional Knee Brace – Functional knee braces are popular for helping to stabilize the knee while it is in the healing and recovery process. The type of functional knee brace will depend on the degree of injury the person has sustained.
In general, if the injury is mild to moderate you could use a brace that is constructed from neoprene with hinges on the side for extra support. If the injury is more serious, you might need a brace that has a metal frame and hinges. The purpose of a functional knee brace is to provide firm support and stability when the user is twisting, pivoting, running or jumping.
- Rehabilitative Knee Brace – If you’re in rehabilitation for a sports injury or you are recovering from surgery, a rehabilitative knee brace is a good choice for you. This type of knee brace will limit your knee’s movement so it can heal and recover properly.
This type of brace, when combined with therapy is believed to be a good foundation for healing and recovery. In general, one can expect to wear this brace for 6-8 weeks following surgery. For additional comfort they have liners that are around the thigh, calf and knee that are made of foam. The stiff, adjustable bars on the sides hold the knee in place and are secured with straps. It is easily taken off to check the progress of the knee.
Knee Brace Varieties
Even though there are typically four categories of knee braces, there are many different models within those categories. It is beneficial to you to understand the differences and how they work so you can match your particular needs to the brace that best fits it. We’ve listed them below.
- Hinge Brace – A hinge brace prevents the left or right motion of the knee that can aggravate or reinjure the knee that has already been injured previously. The stiff bars stabilize the knee. In some cases there may be a locking feature that will also prevent the knee from bending or straightening too much as well.
- ACL Brace – This is a good brace for those who have had ACL surgery or something similar. They keep the knee/leg from engaging in excessive rotation. They need to be custom made to fit each individual person.
- Patellofemoral Brace – Injuring the leg at the knee joint is a common injury for people to suffer from. A patellofemoral brace has a hole at the knee cap that pushes the knee cap outward. The patellar remains on track during extending and flexing.
- Neoprene Sleeves – This is the easiest of all the knee braces and is actually the type that offers the least amount of support to users’ knees. This slip on sleeve is made of breathable and moisture-wicking neoprene. It keeps heat surrounding the knee which is great for reducing inflammation and swelling of the knee.
- Knee Immobilizer – If you have had surgery or an injury that involves the ligaments. This brace goes from the calf to the upper thigh. There is a plate that is located behind the knee that also runs from thigh to calf. Each side is stabilized with plates that protect the ligaments.
There are many different reasons you may need a knee brace; from preventing injuries to an already weak knee to reducing pain. More than likely you will need a specific type of knee brace for your particular needs. One you have determined exactly what those needs are, you can begin to search through the different choices available.
Knowing how to narrow the selection field will help make the choice that much easier. The right information provides you with the tools you need to eliminate the braces that won’t work for your specific injuries/needs. With the right tools, you can be confident that the choice you make will be the right one.