There are hundreds of knee braces on the market, and if you need one, you may be asking yourself exactly what can meet your need. Supports, sleeves, hinges, stabilizers…how do you get the proper product? Please let us help!
Braces are frequently required or recommended for arthritic pain, ACL or LCL issues, and patella injuries. You may want to check with a medical professional to ensure you are getting a product that best serves you injury or weakness. Braces can help you heal faster if you have experienced surgery or injury, and they can also be used to strengthen your knees and help with injury prevention. You may also find that the compression feature helps with pain management.
First, let’s define the types of braces together:
- Knee sleeves come in varying sizes and can be slipped on over your knee. Sleeves offer good compression for minimal chronic arthritic knee pain. The compression helps to not only support your knee, but also redistributes your weight to allow for better performance during training. They also can be worn under your clothes, so no one sees the product.
- Knee supports can be adjusted and most often wrap around your knee. These can provide support, warmth, and compression.
- Hinged knee braces permit movement of your knee’s inherent motions and offer the most advanced degree of support. Hinged braces are good if you’re a sports participant. As you know, it’s too easy to twist an ankle or knee in addition to ligament ailments. Having hinges accelerates healing, protects your ACL, and prevents hyperextension. They are also lightweight, so if you’re a runner, your speed should be only minimally impacted, if at all.
- There are two types of hinges. Rigid ones offer the best protection and stabilization. Soft hinges are better if you require less support.
- Knee stabilizers have metal springs that are situated on both sides of your knee. They offer a slightly smaller degree of support than the hinged brace.
- Magnetic braces come with several magnets (16 is customary), and magnetic therapy may be used to improve blood circulation and decrease pain. The magnets are sewn into the brace and are not visible. They target stiffness and swelling. With the adjustable Velcro straps, one size fits most.
- You can get neoprene braces for your knees as well, and they are made for sprains, strains, and injuries. Neoprene is a rubber material that is ideal for insulation and by keeping the injured area warm, it promotes healing and circulation.
In addition to the types of braces, there are also two styles to select.
- Slip-on braces do exactly what they say; they slide on your knee by slipping your foot through the opening and pulling it up to your knee.
- Wrap-a-round braces sit either in front or behind of your knee and can be adjusted with the Velcro straps on the brace. These are usually worn on top of any clothing or hosiery and can help with mild to moderate pain of the patella.
- Closed patella braces allow your kneecap to receive the same level of compression as the rest of your knee.
- Open patella braces generally allow for increased knee movement; however, your kneecap avoids receiving any pressure.
Size is another matter to keep in mind. Brace packaging has the answers to any measurement questions. Measurements may be needed around your knee, inches above or below the knee, and some require thigh and calf measurements. Taking those measurements with you when you’re ready to make a purchase is helpful. Should your measurements fall between two sizes, buying the larger of the two is suggested.
There are also knee bands and custom knee braces. Bands can be worn under your clothes for support if you have a minimal need and custom braces are great with specific sizing needs.
And finally, here is a summary of all the searchable information you may require if you are inclined to shop online.
- Support levels are basic, advanced, elite, and knee pads.
- Braces are used for specific conditions like arthritis and ACL injuries.
- Styles of knee braces include pull ups, hinged, knee straps and wrap-a-rounds.
This is not an endorsement of any vendor, just a listing of a few of the most common manufacturers: Ace, Donjoy, Thermoskin, Neo G, McDavid, and Mueller.