Avid runners often experience pain while running, which can inhibit their ability to enjoy their exercise while putting a damper on their daily exercise goals. Every pound of weight in your body creates five times as much force and pressure on the kneecaps. This continued stress on the knees can damage the cartilage, tear ligaments, and lead to pain and injury. Fortunately, with the help of a knee brace, runners can help to minimize the pain and soreness in their knees, while decreasing their risk of developing future injuries.
The Advantages of Using a Knee Brace
There are numerous advantages of wearing a knee brace, and it is something that all runners and athletes should consider. While knee braces are often balked at as uncomfortable or unnecessary, there are a variety of lightweight, easy-to-wear braces available that can greatly minimize the negative effects of running. With the innumerable benefits of wearing a knee brace, the pros far outweigh the cons.
- Knee braces compress the knee, which encourages blood flow and can help prevent knee pain, bruising, and swelling.
- Braces can immobilize the knee, which can help prevent injuries such as twisting the knee, tearing ligaments, or damaging the patella.
- It can reduce swelling during and after intense workouts.
- It will reduce your risk of injury, thereby lowering your chances of needing physical therapy.
- For runners who struggle with arthritis, a knee brace can help to minimize pain through the use of compression, as well as reducing the weight and impact on the joints. A brace will help to prevent friction between the bones, which will dramatically lessen arthritic pain.
- If you are suffering from a dislocated patella, a knee brace can help to secure your patella in place while you run, reducing your risk of exacerbating the injury.
- For those suffering from a meniscus injury, which is where the cartilage in your knee tears, a knee brace can help to reduce pain and swelling.
- In cases of ACL, PCL, or MCL injuries, a knee brace can provide essential support, enabling athletes to run without worry of re-injuring themselves.
Knee braces and sleeves are useful in mitigating the pain and swelling of current knee injuries, while preventing future injuries from occurring. Avid runners, no matter the state or health of their joints, should all wear knee braces regularly as a general precaution to prevent future injury.
How to Choose the Right Knee Brace for Running
There are many factors that go into choosing the right knee brace for you. The brace you choose will be contingent on your specific needs and goals with the brace.
The primary factors to consider are:
- Pricing- Knee braces can range in price from ten dollars to hundreds of dollars. The cost of the knee brace will depend on your specific needs. Specialized knee braces tend to cost more than standard braces or sleeves. Consider how much you are willing to spend, while taking into account the type of knee brace that is most suited to your needs.
- Average user rating- Prior to investing in the brace, research the user ratings of past customers to ensure the brace holds up to its claims. Many braces may sound good in theory, but the application falls short of its expectations.
- Breathability- Given you will be sweating while wearing the brace, it’s important to find a knee brace that provides maximum breathability while running. Ensure the fabric is lightweight and perforated for maximum ventilation.
- Construction- To prevent chafing, it’s important to invest in a seamless knee brace. The brace should be malleable, light-weight, and of good material quality.
- Mobility- The mobility of the knee brace you choose will partially depend on your knees. In the event of more severe injury or arthritis, you may require a brace that minimizes mobility. If limited mobility isn’t essential to your needs, or you desire a brace with ample mobility, then seek out a brace with an open patella. This will allow you to extend your knees fully while running. Additionally, knee bands and tape provide for liberal mobility as well.
- Support- Determine the level of knee support you need from a knee brace, depending on any conditions you experience.
- Compression- Determine the level of compression required for your specific purposes. Some knee braces have fixed compression, whereas others are adjustable. Adjustable compression will allow for a multi-purpose knee brace, where you can increase or decrease the compression depending on your level of soreness.
- Specific conditions- Different knee braces cater to different conditions in the knee. Whether you are using the knee brace to alleviate knee pain when running, runner’s knee, arthritis, patella injury, strains, or just to prevent future injury, ensure that the knee brace you buy can cater to that specific purpose.
What Type of Knee Brace is Best for Running?
There are several different types of knee braces available, each of which provides its own set of functions and care. The primary types of knee braces are:
- Hinged brace- A hinged brace is more rigid than other options, thereby providing more support but with less mobility. They are specially designed to minimize the extension of the leg, and they are the ideal choice for individuals who are struggling with more severe knee injuries that require added support and stabilization. If you’ve just gotten over a knee injury, gotten out of surgery, or are suffering from ACL, PCL, or MCL ligament tears, then this is the knee brace for you. For lesser injuries or injury prevention, a lower level knee brace is ideal, as the hinged brace tends to be larger, bulkier, and less comfortable to wear while running.
- Patella stabilizing brace- If you’ve injured your patella, then the patella stabilizing brace is the best solution. It holds the patella in place while you run and reduces pain and swelling, while preventing further injury. It also helps with the pain associated with tendonitis because it compresses the patellar tendon and helps reduce pain.
- Neoprene brace- Neoprene is an insulating material that can help to warm sore joints and muscles while running. The primary purposes of neoprene braces are to provide compression and heat, both of which can minimize pain and swelling. Neoprene is a stretchy material that naturally conforms to the leg, while applying mild pressure to the area. If you have a bruised knee, a neoprene brace is ideal. The compression can help to encourage blood flow, which helps to minimize bruising.
- Knee bands- For lesser injuries, such as mild knee pain or patellar pain, a simple knee band will suffice. A knee band goes around the base of the knee and applies pressure to the patellar tendon, helping to minimize soreness in the process. They are also useful in assisting with tendonitis and runner’s knee, while helping to prevent future strains or sprains of the knees.
- Arthritic knee brace- An arthritic knee brace is just as the name entails. It is specifically intended for people with arthritis. Arthritis causes the space between joints to degenerate overtime, which leads to the bones rubbing together. Arthritic knee braces are designed to minimize the contact between the bones, creating less pain while you run. Additionally, through the use of customizable compression, you can reduce the soreness and swelling associated with arthritis.
- Knee tape- Knee tape is the least invasive of all the options. Though it isn’t effective in treating moderate to severe knee injuries, it can be effective at preventing strain or soreness in the knees. It’s the ideal option for people looking to protect themselves from injury, while not having to wear a bulky or restricting brace in the process. It can also be effective in minimizing the pain of mild runner’s knee.
Reviews of the 5 Best Knee Brace for Running
Now that you are aware of the essential factors in choosing a knee brace, you are ready to determine which brace will suit your needs best. The type of knee brace you choose will ultimately depend on your specific injuries and your level of soreness. Here are the top five knee braces to choose from, each of which caters to a distinct set of problems.
- Neo G Medical Grade VCS Advanced Hinged Open Patella Knee Brace
This is a hinged brace, specially designed to provide optimum support and stabilization of the patella. It can help with the pain of arthritis and runner’s knee, while minimizing risk of sprains, strains, or other injuries while running. The hinge system helps to control leg extension while you run, thereby lowering your risk of tears or strains to the ligaments. It’s made of neoprene, which absorbs heat better than other fabrics and provides soothing warmth to sore muscles and joints. The brace can fit on either knee, and is comfortable and malleable so as not to impede your leg movements too much.
- TuffBrace Athletics Knee Brace and Support
At just under $25, this is a high-quality, multi-purpose knee brace for a phenomenal price. Made from neoprene, this knee brace is perforated, thin, and malleable for ample breathability and comfort. With adjustable Velcro straps, you can adapt the compression level to fit your needs. It provides padding and stability for the patella, while helping to minimize pain and swelling associated with arthritis and runner’s knee. It features an open patella, enabling for a full range of motion while running, and can fit either knee with ease. It’s available in two different sizes, each of which are adjustable, so you can find a custom fit that conforms to your leg perfectly.
- Mueller Patella Stabilizer Knee Brace
This brace is a patellar stabilizing brace that is ideal for those who have suffered a dislocated patella. At just under $30, it’s the best brace for the money. It’s well cushioned and made with breathable fabric that’s comfortable, even as you sweat. With adjustable, Velcro straps, you can customize the level of compression based on your personal preference. In addition to serving as a patellar stabilizer, it can also help those suffering from arthritis, patellofemoral pain, runner’s knee, and Chondromalacia. The fabric is sown in a way that eliminates seams and removes the risk of chafing while running.
- McDavid Reversible Neoprene Knee Support
This is a standard neoprene brace that is the ideal choice for those looking to prevent future knee injuries. The knee sleeve is seamless to provide maximum comfort and contours easily to the shape of your knee. It can fit either knee and is free of latex to prevent potential allergic reactions. At under $15, this brace is a phenomenal deal for the money. This brace isn’t intended to provide stabilization of the patella, but rather to provide standard compression and support, which will minimize the soreness and swelling associated with runner’s knee.
- Mueller Jumper’s Knee Strap
Knee straps are the perfect choice for those looking to prevent future injury, or to minimize soreness in the patellar tendon. They are small, lightweight, and easy to wear, making them an ideal choice for runners. This knee strap can help relieve the pain of Chondromalacia, Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease, and Patellar Tendonitis. This brace provides ample support, but little in the way of compression. As a result, it’s intended more for use as minimizing mild knee pains and preventing future strains on the knee. It’s the perfect choice for avid runners looking to minimize damage to their knees because it’s lightweight, easy to wear, and comfortable, allowing for maximum mobility. For severe cases of arthritis, patella injury, or chronic runner’s knee, a more integrated full-support knee brace is ideal.
When running, you put a tremendous amount of stress on the knees, which can lead to knee problems and injuries later on. For avid runners, wearing some type of support is essential. It not only helps to minimize swelling, soreness, and knee pain while running, but it can actively prevent future injuries. If you struggle with pain and soreness while running, then getting the added support of a knee brace is essential.