The knee is an incredibly strong joint. It not only supports our whole weight, but it also gives you much freedom of movement. However, sometimes it can get gravely injured. Those who have suffered knee injuries know how much wearing a knee brace helps with knee joint recovery and with joint pain relief.
Thus, knee braces are extremely important gadgets for anyone who is at risk of knee problems, such as meniscus injuries. Athletes are obviously at risk of busting their knee joint, which is why you will find a knee brace in almost all athletic training kits.
Today we’re walking you through all the knee supports on the market, from knee sleeves to knee wraps. Then, we’ll explain their pros and cons and tell you who they’re recommended for. Lastly, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best knee braces. After reading this article, we’re sure you will know what knee brace is best for you!
What Are Knee Braces Used For?
When you’re playing sports, for example, it can be easy to tear the cruciate ligament in your knee. All it takes is for the knee to rotate in an unnatural direction, which happens more often than you may thing!
Wearing a knee brace minimizes the impact the knee would feel in this situation. By compressing the ligaments together, it makes tearing an important part of the knee much harder.
They’re also very useful in the recovery period of knee surgery. They’re worn to help the ligaments heal on their own, by providing support and comfort.
Who Should Wear a Knee Brace?
Anyone who suffers a knee injury can benefit from wearing knee braces. If you’ve undergone knee surgery or have recently sprained your knee ligaments, getting one may be a good idea.
Even as an injury prevention method, knee supports can be used. If you’re an athlete worried about a career-ending meniscus tear, a knee brace would be a good investment.
However, it’s important to note that knee supports are not substitutes for seeking medical advice! This joint is a complex one that, if too damaged, may never heal. Always see a doctor and ask them if they think you should wear knee support.
Types of Knee Braces
Different types of knee pain or injuries need different types of knee braces. There are four main kinds of knee support gadgets. Consult with a physician before settling on one.
a) Prophylactic Braces
Prophylactic braces support protect the knee during contact sports, such as football and soccer. They can prevent serious knee injuries. Manufacturers make them using bars, adhesive straps, and hinges, which is why they look so sturdy and bulky. You’ll find that athletes usually wear this kind of brace.
b) Rehabilitative Braces
As the name suggests, these knee supports are perfect for recovering from a nasty injury to the knee. They hold the joints in place and limit the movement so that the ligaments can heal more easily. They’re usually worn for 2 to 8 weeks, according to medical advice.
c) Functional Braces
People wear functional braces when recovering from an injury or operation. But unlike rehabilitative braces, they don’t completely limit movement. Rather, they allow natural movement of the knee while strongly compressing the joints. This kind of knee support is the most recommended for people with unsteady knees.
d) Unloader Braces
Finally, we have the unloader braces. They are worn by people with problems in the inner knee, not necessarily resulting from sports injuries. Thus, these are the best knee braces for arthritis and for the preoperative period.
Knee Brace or Sleeve?
While not technically considered a knee brace, compression knee support also aid with pain relief of the joint and ligaments. These items don’t offer as high of level support as braces. However, if your problem isn’t very serious, they offer a satisfactory amount of support. Plus, they’re cheap, can be found at virtually any pharmacy, and discreet!
Knee Brace or Tape?
You may have seen knee tapes during the latest Olympics. They’re the brightly colored straps of fabric you saw along swimmers’ and runners’ calves and thighs.
While these tapes wraps don’t help hurt knees, they can be used to prevent muscles and joints from tearing. Despite all that, they don’t offer the same level of support that knee braces do.
Knee Brace or Wrap?
Knee braces are most common in body-building communities. They support the knee ligaments when lifting heavy weights. By wearing them, you are at a much lower chance of damaging your knee, especially when squatting.
Things to Look Out For: Shopping Guide
In order to find the best knee brace money can buy, you have to stay aware of some factors. After all, with so many products on the market, it can be easy to get lost in the world of Amazon and other online retailers.
Size and Fit
Always pay attention to the size and fit of your knee braces support. You want one that is tight enough to hold your ligaments in place, but not too tight that you can’t bend and move around your knee.
The key is finding one that is perfectly snug, which isn’t all that hard. Most braces supports usually come with adjustment straps that adhere to velcro, anyways. Moreover, we have highlighted the products that come in a variety of sizes, from extra-small to extra-extra-large
Type of Brace & Injury
This is a crucial step you should never skip: consider what kind of brace support your knee injuries require. We’ve already walked you through four kinds: prophylactic, rehabilitative, functional, and unloader.
Has your doctor allowed you to move your knee at all? Are you recovering from a complicated meniscus tear? Do you have arthritis in your knee joint? Are you looking for a support that will tie you over until it’s time to be operated on? Knowing the answers to these questions will automatically answer the age-old dilemma of “What knee brace do I need?”
Level of Support
The point of braces is to offer a good level of support. Regardless of what you use it for — athletic training, bodybuilding, pain relief — you don’t want braces supports that is too loose and not structured at all. Look for a product that gives you the support you need for your specific injury.
Convenience & Design
It may seem secondary, but worrying about the convenience and design of knee strap braces is important. Since you’ll be wearing it for hours upon hours, you need something that feels comfortable and easy to wear.
This is where design comes in. It’s best to choose braces you can put on yourself. A too complicated fastening system could mean you don’t put them on right and, in turn, a lack of support.
Since they’ll also get sweaty and develop a foul odor, consider how to wash a knee brace. You have to pick a model that allows you to clean it up easily. One that is machine washable, for example.
Of course, having your budget in mind is crucial. You don’t want a knee pain relief or recovery gadget to break the bank, do you?
The cheapest models are the compression knee sleeves support. You can find them at any pharmacy. They usually cost between $10 and $20.
If you want more support, you’ll have to shell out a bit more. The more padding and structure the braces have, the heftier the price tag. Hinged knee braces are the ones offering the highest level of support, and they can cost up to $200.
With so many braces on the market, we’re sure you will find something perfect for your budget. Just keep looking and don’t give up!
Lastly, you could look into how it looks, too. Is it discreet enough that it can be used under your clothes? Or, if it has to be worn over your pants, do you like its design? While this is certainly not a deal breaker, it’s still something to have in mind.
10 Best Knee Braces Reviewed
Deciding what knee brace is best is a time-consuming task. Sure, you could browse the hundreds of braces support on Amazon, read thousands of reviews, analyze each product’s specifics, and do a general comparison. But that’s what we’re here for! We have taken the hours it takes to find the best knee supports on the market so you don’t have to.
1) ACE Knee Brace with Dual Side Stabilizers
The best thing about these braces are the dual side stabilizers. They hug the knee and offer plenty of support and compression to sore muscles and ligaments.
If you’ve recently had an operation, this sleeve is right for you. It hugs the knee snugly without cutting circulation or suffocating the skin.
The small circular hole lets the patella breathe and prevents direct pressure on it. Wearing it for longer periods of time is okay, too. When the time comes to wash it, apply some soap and warm (not hot) water and scrub gently with your hands.
Putting on the brace support is a breeze. It comes with three velcro straps you can adjust to your own knee. In just a few seconds you will find the fit for you.
- Dual-side support offers comfort and compression
- Three velcro straps make putting it on easy
- Breathable material that can be washed by hand
- The brace is too bulky for running
2) Bracoo Knee Support
The Bracoo support is an Amazon’s bestseller, has glowing reviews, and is perfect for weight lifting and surgery recovery.
Its open-patella design avoids placing too much pressure on the frontal knee joint. Moreover, it gives you more freedom of movement, ideal for those who regularly practice sports.
The three straps ensure a comfortably snug fit. They also protect your ACL, PCL, LCL, and MCL ligaments by distributing the pressure throughout the whole knee.
Lastly, the neoprene material is breathable yet thick. It promotes good blood circulation and prevents the formation of cloths.
- Secure and safe three-strap closing system
- Thick neoprene material prevents blood clot formation
- Open-patella design allows for freedom of movement
- Some customers report the velcro peeling off after some months
3) McDavid 429X Hinged Knee Piece
This bionic-looking hinged knee protection is ideal for those recovering from MCL and ACL surgery. It offers plenty of support and limits movements to a safe degree recommended by physicians.
There is special padded material around the patella to reduce chafing. The velcro straps add to the comfort by allowing the user to adjust the braces to their knee.
The McDavid knee brace comes in five different sizes, from small to extra-extra-large. No matter how thick your knee is, you’ll find a model that fits you.
The good news for people with latex allergies is that this product is 100% latex free. Unlike many other braces, you shouldn’t have problems with this one’s fabric.
- Sturdy design that offers maximum lateral support
- Padded to maximize comfort throughout the day
- Adjustable straps and five different sizes
- The sizing charts can be somewhat elusive
4) EzyFit Brace Knee Support
Athletes can turn to the EzyFit brace support, an Amazon bestseller with very high ratings, for their knee rehabilitation needs.
The braces fit snugly around your knee and you can adjust it by toying with the velcro anti-slip bi-lateral straps.
When it’s put on correctly, it provides support to the MCL, ACL, and LCL ligaments. Furthermore, these are ideal knee braces for tendonitis.
The neoprene and nylon fabric allow for freedom of movement when practicing sports. The back of the knee is bendable, which lets your knee bend as it would, were you not wearing the compression sleeve.
- Bendable and breathable material allows freedom of knee movement
- Offers a lot of support to the main knee ligaments
- Available in medium and extra-large with adjustable straps
- Those with smaller or larger knees may not be able to wear this product
5) Bauerfeind Knee Support
The Bauerfeind brace support is the dream match between a proper brace and a compression knee sleeve. It offers the brace’s support with the comfort and ease of a knee sleeve.
It is made from air-knitted fabric is breathable yet durable. When it gets dirty, you can clean it easily and it will recover its shape once more.
Freedom of movement is one of this item’s strong suits, thanks to its superb anatomical design. The knit is very malleable but it offers enough compression to keep the knee ligaments in place.
Lastly, the patella padded material has been designed to absorb shock and impact. Even during hard training sessions, the compression knee sleeve will distribute the pressure through the whole knee.
- Compresses the ligaments for faster knee healing
- Padded material is comfortable and safe for the patella
- Breathable fabric that can be hand-washed with warm water
- Closed patella design isn’t right for everyone
- No ability to adjust the fit makes it uncomfortable for some
6) Winzone Knee Support Sleeve
More than two thousand people have had an amazing experience with this market-leading knee support, which obviously is a testament to its quality.
The wrap-around design makes it easy to put on and take off this sleeve-meets-brace item. You can adjust the fit using the two straps so that it’s not too tight or too loose.
Its material isn’t bulky, unlike other models on the market. Thus, you can easily wear it under jeans and pants without it showing too much. You can also machine wash it with cold water when it’s time to clean it.
Of course, support is something the Amazon bestseller does right. The open-patella design and dual side straps hold the joint in place comfortably.
- Dual side straps are adjustable and comfortable
- Can be used under pants and jeans easily
- Machine washable and breathable material
- The silicone lines at the back of the knee bother some customers
7) Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Support
These braces offer a high level of support, perfect for nursing injured knees back to health and going about your day despite being hurt.
The tempered aluminum and bilateral hinged knee supports make this one of the strongest braces on the market. It restricts your movements enough to heal your joints but not so much that it prevents you from going about your day-to-day.
The fabric used in the Shock Doctor braces is high-quality four-way-stretch lycra that feels comfortable on the skin. It is breathable and the fit can be adjusted thanks to the two velcro straps.
These are great knee braces for arthritis, meniscus injuries, patella instability, and ligament sprain.
- Comfortable fabric that lets the skin breathe
- Tempered aluminum and metal hinges offer plenty of support
- Fit can be adjusted using the two side straps
- More expensive than other braces on the market
8) Neo G Medical Grade VCS Adjustable Hinge Brace
When recovering from surgery, it’s important to start moving your knee to a reasonable degree. The Neo G allows freedom of movement while still protecting your sore, recovering joints.
Its medical and anatomical design fosters pain relief and comfort. There is an open hole where the patella goes and the side metal wiring distributes pressure evenly throughout the knee.
Thanks to the metal hinges along the side of the knee, there is plenty of support. They make standing all day long or even doing light sports a breeze and comfortable.
The premium-grade neoprene is breathable and padded to minimize chafing and sores from appearing. It is also anti-slip, which makes it convenient to wear all day long, if need be.
- High-quality fabric that allows the skin to breathe and prevents rashes
- Level of support is high, perfect for knee rehabilitation
- Trusted by doctors all over the United States and Canada
- Its one-size-fits-all model may be a downside for some people
9) DonJoy Legend SE-4 Knee Support
The DonJoy hinged knee supports offer stability to severely or moderately wounded joints by combining padded material with durable light metal.
Along the sides of the brace, there are metal plates stuck together at crucial points. This ensures the ligaments can heal on their own and shelters them from harmful knee twisting movements.
It can be used for high-contact sports in order to protect against lesions. And, since the metal is aircraft-grade aluminum, this product won’t hold you down.
The hinged knee support can be used under jeans and pants. It has padded material on the inside to minimize discomfort.
Lastly, there are no straps allowing you to adjust the fit of the brace. Instead, you can choose any size from extra-small to extra-extra-extra-large.
- Sturdy, durable, yet lightweight model
- Offers plenty of lateral support
- Comfortable padded fabric on the inside of the brace
- Finding the size that fits you can take some time and tries
10) TechWare Pro Knee Supports
This product is especially good at alleviating knee pain caused by arthritis and a tear in the meniscus thanks to its pressure-distributing straps.
There are three velcro straps allowing you to adjust the fit of the brace. They go in both directions (from the left to the right and vice-versa). This allows the compressing tension to be spread throughout the whole knee instead of focused in one point.
It is an awesome knee brace for running, perfect for those with runner’s knee, as it provides support without restricting movement. The silicone strips inside secure it in place all day long, even if you’re exercising.
Finally, you can only one of four sizes — from medium to extra-extra-large — perfect for all leg sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Knee Supports
Is it okay to wear a knee brace all the time?
While you can wear some models for long periods of time, it’s really not recommended. The more you wear your knee braces supports, the less used your own knee and the surrounding muscles get to having to work. Thus, wearing these products for long stretches of time can lead to muscle atrophy, which you most certainly do not want.
Can you wear a knee brace to bed?
Yes, you can! People who have suffered from a meniscus tear or have been operated on, especially, are recommended by their doctors to wear a hinged brace to bed. It provides pain relief and, if you’re someone who moves a lot while asleep, ensures you don’t move your knee around too much.
Do knee braces help with knee pain?
Absolutely! They take pressure off your joints when you’re standing and moving. Thus, they allow the damaged muscles and joints to relax and recover at their own pace.
Do knee braces help meniscus tear?
There are braces designed specifically to help heal a tear in the meniscus. They, combined with hot cold therapy, make recovery possible and alleviate drastically knee pain.
Are knee braces effective?
The jury is still out on whether knee braces really are effective, officially speaking. Doctors all over the world prescribe them every day, but scientists are still learning more about the knee itself. At the end of the day, however, millions of people — both patients and doctors — will tell you that yes, braces for the knee are, indeed, effective.
Can knee braces cause blood clots?
Any time when you can’t move a part of your body for a long period of time, there is always a risk of blood clots being formed and, eventually, of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Yet, not even hinged knee supports cause blood clots. Despite the knee staying in the brace for several weeks, it is not constantly immobilized. All doctors recommend moving the knee around gently after a surgery — precisely in order to avoid blood clots!
What’s the best knee brace for tendonitis?
Tendonitis is a condition that benefits from wearing a knee strap or brace. Our pick is the DonJoy Legend SE-4 since it shelters the patellar tendon from harm and supports it in day-to-day movements.
What knee brace is best for running?
We recommend picking up the Bracoo Knee Support. Its open-front design combined with the side patellar velcro strap ensures the front-knee ligaments are held in place. Runner’s knee won’t be as big a problem anymore with this item.