best knee brace for running

How To Find The Best Knee Brace For Running

How To Find The Best Knee Brace For Running?

Choosing a knee brace can be daunting, especially when there are so many types out there. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult if you know exactly what you need. Here are some ways to help you find the best knee brace for running, as well as some recommended products.

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What Should You Consider When Finding a Knee Brace?

When looking for a knee brace, it isn’t just a matter of picking the best price or most-popular brand name. Instead, it involves a combination of many factors concerning your knee’s shape and why it’s affected (e.g. injury, instability, etc). Knowing your body first will better gauge what will be the best knee brace to purchase.

One way is to first research any possible symptoms of your knee, in order to determine just what might be causing it to hurt or to be weak. You might even need to consult with a physician if the matter is too complex for you to know. Once you find out what is bothering your knee, you can move on to selecting your knee brace for fitting.

That said, what should you look for in a knee brace? Here are some key points to consider:

1) Type of knee brace.

​This is the first thing you ought to think about when searching. Many are used for different purposes, whether to rehabilitate sport injuries, treat arthritis, or generally reduce knee strain when walking.

As a runner, you will need to look into getting a knee brace specialized for your sport; here are the ones you might want to consider investing in:

o Functional braces.

These types of braces are especially used for injuries or post-surgery knee operations. They are used to provide stability while the knee heals, and can be worn for six to twelve months.

However, while functional braces have their benefits, wearers have found them to be hot and uncomfortable, as well as irritate the skin. They also do not guarantee knee stability to return to normal, so working closely with a rehabilitation program will better help accelerate the healing process.

o Prophylactic braces.

Used almost exclusively for sports injuries related to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), prophylactic braces can also be used to reduce knee stiffness, as well as provide stability to other areas within the knee (e.g. ACL, PCL, LCL).

Although there have been studies showing few issues with wearing this specific brace, others have reported it as a problem for patients who believe it to work well and return to strenuous activities before being completely healed.

As a result, it can add to the injury, thereby worsening it. That said, giving time to let the knee heal is just as important as wearing the brace.

o Rehabilitative braces.

Similar to functional braces, this type is also used for healing after surgery. However, they are usually worn only for two to six weeks and are meant to limit knee movement while it heals.

This is the most common-prescribed brace for athletes, since it can be adjusted for swelling and knee shape, as well as allows for a controlled range of motion while it heals

.Some studies, though, have said that wearing rehabilitative braces does not make much of a difference when it comes to healing the knee, especially when a surgical operation has already corrected the injured area.

2) Mechanism.

After considering what type of knee brace to get, the next step is to know the details of the brace, in order to know how it operates. Here are some things you might need to look out for:

  • Knee stabilizer. Consists of metal spring on both sides of the brace to keep you upright for support.
  • Knee sleeves. Serves for convenience, as it can be slipped on and off easily.
  • Knee support. Are adjustable wrap-arounds, and also helps with compression and warmth.

There is also the question of different styles of knee braces:

  • Hinged braces. Contain jointed parts that closely mimic the natural mechanisms of the knee.
  • Magnetic braces. Have built-in magnets to soothe the injured area and improve the healing process.
  • Neoprene braces. Provide heat and decreases swelling.
  • Closed or open patella. Braces with a closed patella serve to equalize compression throughout the entire knee, while those with an open patella are for reducing pressure from the knee cap and also better track its movement.

3) Support level.

There are varying degrees to how much assistance you want from your knee brace. The list below offers the different levels for the item:

  • Basic. Used for short, minor injuries, basic level offers low assistance at a low cost.
  • Advanced. Easy to adjust and durable, this level provides moderate support by reducing stress throughout the knee.
  • Elite. The elite level gives high stability to the knee, especially those that tend to be weak following surgical operations.
  • Knee Pads. For people who often perform activities involving the knee, these pads provide the ultimate cushion for kneeling and other movements.

Top 5 Best Knee Braces for Runners On The Market

Now that you’ve done your research in finding the best knee brace to purchase and wear, it is time to go ahead and look at a few products. It is by no means an extensive selection, but rather a way to help you get an idea of what works (or doesn’t work) for you and your body.

No matter what you choose, know that it’s important to get your knee healed and back into doing what you love to do, namely, running!

** Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

1. Knee Brace Support by Winzone.

Via Amazon.com

This all-around knee brace can be worn for any kind of activity, from running to contact sports such as basketball,biking. Its one-size-fits-all design and built-in strapping system allows you to slip it on with ease, as well as adjust accordingly to your knee’s shape and size for the best fit.

When purchasing the knee brace, it comes with a lifetime warranty and a money belt, which is good for carrying items (e.g. keys, cellphones) while on long runs. Many of its users have reported satisfaction with the product, and wished that they could have discovered it sooner!

PROS

  • Versatile for all sorts of injuries, including running, arthritis, ACL, basketball, meniscus Tear, and other sports.​
  • Stabilizes knee joint and reduces lower leg strain​
  • ​Fabric material offers flexibility and long durability.
  • Minimal bulkiness that can be slipped underneath clothes to cover up any signs of injury
  • Easy to store when not in use

CONS

  • No taper behind the knee and the calves, so not as form-fitting as expected
  • Does not offer a wide range of sizes for all knee shapes
  • ​Discomfort when worn for long periods of time.
  • Effectiveness of Velcro straps wears off after several repeated uses

2. ActiveGear Knee Brace

via Amazon.com

While it is typically geared towards alleviating arthritis pain, ActiveGear’s knee brace is also adapted for supporting the knee during strenuous exercise (such as running), pressure from the daily chore, and post-surgery.

It is made from Neoprene, which is good for inducing heat and preventing swelling from occurring during activities.

Another good feature is the five different sizes to choose from, which for many people suffering from knee problems would find beneficial based on their knee’s shape.

Considering that it is difficult to find the right size for various widths and lengths, many users might appreciate the company’s efforts to cater to each and every one of their measurements as best as possible. No more one-size-fits-all policy; a more-personalized brace is the way to go!​

PROS

  • Five different sizes for all types of knees.
  • Gives compression and warmth for improved circulation.
  • Stretchy and easy enough to slip on and off after workouts
  • Stays in place during long activities

CONS

  • Can be hot and uncomfortable
  • Not for long-term, daily use; it is often limited to no more than two or three hours a day
  • Sizes not accurately represented in the product
  • Can be bulky and stiff

3.Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Brace

Via Amazon.com

Able to be used both for sports and after-rehabilitation sessions, Ultra Flex Athletics’ knee brace is unique in its design and shape, containing both neoprene and silicon material for the ideal brace-fitting experience.

This product also has a waterproof feature that, despite whether you swim or sweat, will not slip off for any high-intensity exercise.

PROS

  • Waterproof features; no need to worry about sweaty knees anymore!
  • Silicone strips to warm up the knee.
  • No slipping off
  • Three built-in straps for more security and protection
  • Bonus ankle brace for extra support

CONS

  • Size can be too small for some people
  • Restricted motion from the shortened middle strap.
  • Built-in straps can be cumbersome to put on and take off
  • Cuts into the back of the knee, contributing to pinched skin and cut-off circulation

4. ExousBodygear EX-701 Knee Brace Support

via Amazon.com

Specially designed for relieving pain from patella tendonitis other related injuries, the ExousBodygear EX-701 knee brace does so by compressing the patella tendon and pushing it in to reduce inflammation.

Another nice aspect of it is the open-patella structure, which helps anchor and corrects the knee structure for improved healing. It is also less prone to irritating the skin compared with other products, which is a good feature for users who wear the brace for many hours each day.

Many users who have worn this knee brace have enjoyed its comfort, as well as have appreciated its durable design with its four-way strap system by means of holding up the brace during even the most lengthy of workouts

PROS

  • Alleviates patella pain for serious cases like patella tendonitis and patellofemoral syndrome
  • Lightweight feature; makes it easy to lift the knee in any activity
  • Less irritation against the skin.
  • Strong and durable Velcro straps to keep the knee brace intact
  • Can be worn for long periods throughout the day

CONS

  • Not very flexible.
  • Clunky design
  • Thin sleeve lining offers little protection between product and surface of the body
  • Metal support protrudes out during exercise

5. Crescendo Athletics Knee Protection

Via Amazon.com

From running to playing with your children, Crescendo Athletics’ knee brace offers a diverse range of benefits to keep you fit and active every day, while also assisting in speeding your knee to recovery.

Simple in design, but complex in function, this product both soaks up the sweat during heavy workouts while at the same time reduces inflammation caused by moving about for long periods.

For many green enthusiasts, Crescendo Athletics provides a knee brace that is FDA-approved for its eco-friendly material sources. Besides feeling good while working out, you can also feel good that you’re doing a big service to protecting the environment. As the old saying goes: be lean, be green!

PROS

  • Ecofriendly, made from 100% environmentally-friendly material
  • High-density material for longer durability
  • Easy to clean and reversible
  • Breathes and absorbs sweat with ease

CONS

  • Not enough support for strenuous workouts (squatting, lunging, long runs)
  • A bit on the pricey end
  • Stretches out after a few wears, loosening the structure
  • Size chart only in small (S), medium (M), and large (L).

Winner: #3 Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Brace

Although it was a close call, in the end, Ultra Flex Athletics’ knee brace did it for me. What made this product stand out from its competitors was the ability to provide good security, compression, and extra ankle support, which was a huge plus.

Via Amazon.com

While wearing it, I experienced no slip offs and definitely no sweat on the back of my knee, which tends to occur when using other knee braces.

On the technical level, this functional brace was good to wear for more than six months, since my injury required a longer time to heal. Support level was on the advanced side, as I was able to use it for most moderate levels of activity.

I would say that, overall, I much prefer this knee brace for my day-to-day routines, whether it be running or simply taking a walk around the block.

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