Knee braces are supports that are worn on the knee to help ease pain, support recovery, and improve the knee joint stability.
When worn as recommended, knee braces can also reduce the prevalence of knee pain during exercise and prevent the joint from moving in a way that’s damaging.
1. BodyProx Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers & Patella Gel Pads
BodyProx knee brace is ideal for people who have a pre-existing knee injury. This brace comes with a velcro strap that wraps around your knee several times, allowing it to fit securely and comfortably on any size of leg. With built in gel pads, all movement will feel comfortable and natural.
This knee brace only uses high-grade Neoprene to limit rashes while allowing for sweat absorption and proper breathing. For these reasons, BodyProx is our top pick.
2. TechWare Pro Knee Brace
TechWare Pro knee brace boasts an open patella design to help keep your knee cap more stable and protected post-injury. It’s made from neoprene material that’s very breathable. Silicone straps are also included to ensure maximum comfort and safety during physical activity.
This knee brace also comes in four different sizes, so it’s guaranteed to fit everyone.
3. IPOW Knee Pain Relief & Patella Stabilizer Knee Brace
IPOW knee brace is very minimalistic and designed for optimal performance during sport and exercise. The brace adheres directly below the kneecap in a way that keeps your patella stable during all types of movement. With shock absorption technology, it also helps to reduce pain during exercise.
The breathable fabric and fine stitching allow for minimal skin irritation, allowing you to wear this brace for hours on end without discomfort.
4. Vive Knee Compression Brace
Viva Knee provides the perfect knee brace for aftercare following major knee surgeries and injuries. The brace comes with removable hot and cold gel packs that can help ease your recovery while keeping your knee in place.
With several securing straps, you can make sure that the brace fits your knee securely and comfortably.
5. RiptGear Compression Knee Sleeve
RiptGear Compression Knee Sleeve provides optimal compression of the knee and surroundings areas making it ideal for supporting athletic performance. The even distribution of pressure can help to relieve knee pain and make participation in physical activity more comfortable.
RiptGear is ergonomically designed to allow for a full range of sports movements and avoids slipping with its silicone grip technology.
6. SS Sleeve Stars Knee Support Brace
SS Sleeve Stars knee brace has two spring stabilizers to keep your knee from moving awkwardly or improperly. The knee cap area is infused with gel to reduce pressure on the knee while still providing support.
Made from high-quality neoprene, SS Sleeve Stars provides an irritation free brace that is also breathable and sweat resistant.
7. EzyFit Knee Brace Support for Arthritis & Injury Recovery
EzyFit provides one of the more comfortable knee braces on the market. Personalized wrapping stabilizes the knee and the velcro closure system ensures rigorous support in even the most demanding movements.
EzyFit comes in three different sizes for the perfect fit.
8. ComfiLife Wrap Knee Brace
ComfiLife’s knee brace is perfect for anyone recovering from knee surgery or a traumatic injury. This brace comes with an included ice pack that can be heated or cooled to provide the temperature treatment you require post-surgery.
The cold and hot packs are made of medical grade materials to ensure no leaks. It’s also versatile enough to be used as an elbow brace as well.
9. TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve
TechWare Pro provides the perfect balance of a compression sleeve and knee brace, making it easy to get on and off when needed.
It also comes with gel pads around the patella region to provide adequate comfort throughout the day.
10. Mueller Sports Medicine Self Adjusting Knee Stabilizer
Mueller Sports Medicine Self Adjusting Knee Stabilizer is designed retain heat during movement, which helps to naturally relieves pain.
It’s also secured with cross-straps for ideal protection and compression during all types of movement.
How We Ranked
Knee braces can be broken down into a few categories: sleeves, compressors, and braces. We decided to include all three types on our list because they all help to support knees in different ways. Mueller Sports Medicine made the list for including a fairly simplistic but effective knee brace with cross straps. However, it tends to be uncomfortable for long periods, which is why it ranked fairly low. TechWare Pro ranked slightly higher for its inclusion of gel padding to support the patella during multiple activities. SS Sleeve included two spring stabilizers to ensure the patella stays in place and doesn’t slip during intense exercise.
Taking 5th spot, RiptGear provides an amazing compression sleeve to support intense exercise. It included anti-slip silicone grip to make sure it stays in place during even the sweatiest sessions. Viva Knee provided one of the best recovery knee sleeves on the market. It’s hot and cold gel packs help reduce inflammation and swelling, making it perfect for post-surgery and treating major knee injuries like ACL tears.
IPOW made our top 3 for providing the most minimalistic knee brace to support athletic performance. It sits below the kneecap and includes shock absorption technology to protect your knee from damage. TechWare Pro provided an open patella design for a more stable and protected patella. Size can make a world of difference when it comes to healthcare products, especially knee braces. Having a product that is too small can severely limit the blood flow to the affected region, while a product that’s too large won’t provide much benefit at all. TechWare Pro comes in 4 sizes to ensure proper and secure fitting, which is why it ranked so high.
BodyProx is the best knee brace on the market, supporting users with previous knee injuries. It provides a custom fit thanks to its wrap-around velcro and the gel pads help stabilize the patella while making every feel more natural. With high-grade Neoprene material, you can be certain it’ll stay dry during intense exercise without causing skin irritation. It’s no surprise that it took the top spot on our list.
Knee braces can improve performance in certain people. In individuals with past injuries to the knee, wearing knee braces may improve athletic performance.
In a 2001 study, 25 study participants who previously underwent ACL reconstruction were observed as they participated in two-legged drop jumps. This exercise involves jumping down from a designated height and then jumping up.
Researchers concluded that knee braces helped this population when it came to improving jump height, knee angle, and psychology. This showed that knee braces could result in both physical and psychological performance (1).
Knee braces can help reduce pain. One of the most common reasons that people wear knee braces is to reduce pain. In a 2017 study, 44 individuals with osteoarthritis were observed and evaluated after participation in a 10-minute walk test. Those wearing knee braces reported less pain when participating in the 10-minute walk test and were actually able to complete the test at a much faster pace than the non-braced group. The knee brace group also experienced less instability of the knee and greater overall performance (2).
Knee braces can prevent further injury. After a traumatic injury to the knee, most people tend to wear some type of knee brace to aid in recovery and prevent further injury to the affected knee.
In a 1992 study, researchers focused on study participants that had experienced some sort of previous ACL injury. During the study, the physical movements of the knee were analyzed with and without a brace to determine whether there was an impact on joint movements with a brace.
In individuals wearing a knee brace, there was significantly less extensor movement and reduced stress on the ACL and tibia. All of these results demonstrate that wearing a brace can help prevent further injury to the previously injured ACL and other local areas of the body (3)
Knee braces are most effective when combined with another type of rehabilitation. Knee braces can be effective in helping to reduce pain and recovery from injury, especially when combined with proper rehabilitation protocols. A 2000 study looked at how wearing a knee brace could improve mobility, but also how other treatment methods could improve recovery. When combined with other treatment methods like flexibility activities, modified athletic activities, and strength training, wearing a knee brace could significantly improve your ability to move your knee and reduce the pain associated with it (4).
Knee braces can save you money. Surgery for major knee conditions can be expensive, and oftentimes isn’t required to return to a state of functionality. In a 2017 study, researchers recruited a group of 63 patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis who used unloader knee braces designed to reduce the amount of pressure and weight placed on the knee. Researchers concluded that these braces could help to reduce symptoms and possibly help patients return to somewhat normal functioning. They also helped prolong the need for surgery (5).
Knee braces can prevent the development of an injury. In 1997, 60 athletes experiencing anterior knee pain syndrome, were split into two groups who engaged in running interventions. Those wearing the knee brace can reduce anterior knee pain syndrome when participating in physical activities. As long as the brace is used as recommended, there should be no negative impact on performance (6)
Knee braces can improve functionality. When knee pain becomes severe, performance and mobility are almost always negatively influenced.
In a 2017 study, individuals with knee pain participated in a 10-minute walk test and a get-up and go test with and without a knee brace on. The time/speed for each of these tests was compared to determine whether a knee brace truly impacted performance. The study demonstrated that wearing a knee brace allowed study participants to complete the tests more efficiently, showing that knee braces can help to improve performance and ability in injured patients (7).
Selecting the right knee brace won’t negatively affect performance. In a study conducted in 1995, scientists set out to determine whether knee braces could negatively impact sports performance. It was determined that knee braces were less likely to negatively impact performance if the user was large and strong. Scientists also determined that knee braces were most effective if they did not apply calf and thigh compression (8).
Knee braces don’t usually reduce speed. There’s an overwhelming concern that knee braces can limit the mobility of the knee, thus reducing speed and agility. In a study conducted in 2000, researchers recruited 30 college football players to determine whether knee braces caused any effects on the speed and agility of athletes. The participants then engaged in 40-yard dashes and a four cone agility drill with and without the knee brace.
By the end of the study, scientists discovered that there was no significant impact on speed and agility (9).
Some knee braces can hinder athletic performance. Though wearing knee braces will keep the knee stable during activities and movements, they can also negatively impact athletic performance.
In a 1999 study, scientists analyzed the effects that knee braces had on the anatomy and physiology of the knee. Researchers found that knee braces reduced the blood flow to the affected knee, allowed less oxygen to reach the knee, and increased intramuscular pressure. Despite the added stability when wearing a knee brace, there’s very little evidence that they can improve athletic performance, especially in individuals that do not have symptoms of a knee injury or pain (10)
Knee braces can limit movement. Knee braces provide stability and prevent unnatural movements, but can also restrict certain movements. In a 2018 study, 19 male skiers were observed to determine whether knee braces impacted athletic performance during drop jumps.
Though the study determined that performance was not necessarily limited, it did show that there was a decrease in knee flexion as well as lower body abduction and adduction movements – which can hinder certain movements in sports, negatively impacting performance (11).
Knee braces aren’t that effective long-term. Knee braces can help when you’re experiencing immediate knee pain, but they don’t provide much benefit when used for an extended period of time, according to a 1986 study. Sixteen individuals with patellofemoral disorders and anterior knee pain were provided with braces that allowed for 0-30 degrees range of motion.
After six weeks, approximately 82% of the participants felt as if their condition improved with the knee brace. However, after 12 months, just 35% felt an improvement in their condition (12).
Knee braces may not improve performance and function in persons with reconstructed knees. Knee braces seem to be pretty effective in those with mild pain, but individuals with reconstructed knees don’t seem to experience much benefit. In a recent 2019 review, scientists scoured seven studies that included 440 participants while looking to determine whether knee braces could improve functionality in those with reconstructed knees. Researchers found knee braces could reduce pain and make easement easier, but it won’t necessarily improve performance in those with previous ACL reconstruction surgeries (13)
Prolonged knee brace use can be uncomfortable. Knee braces are great in the short-term, but many find it challenging to use them for an extended time due to the discomfort that may result. In a 2013 study, researchers surveyed 110 individuals wearing unloader knee braces due to an osteoarthritis diagnosis. Only 89 people responded to the survey, revealing that approximately 28% of those surveyed used their knee brace regularly.
Participants were interviewed again two years later, with fewer participants still managing the brace regularly, with many reporting no improvement in their condition as a result of the knee brace (14).
Knee braces can be used as often as you need them to support knee pain, prevent injury and enhance recovery. You don’t need to have a diagnosed knee injury to get a knee brace. In fact, most people who wear knee braces do so to relieve pain caused by aching joints, arthritis, or mild injuries incurred during daily life.
When adding a knee brace to your life, you need to make sure that you’re selecting a product that will work as advertised. When you put the knee brace on, your knee cap should stay in place and you should feel compression in your knee and the surrounding areas.
With mild knee injuries, the greatest concern is exacerbating the injury and further damaging the ligaments, tendons, or muscles surrounding the knee. A properly fitted knee brace will keep the knee cap from moving and prevent the knee from shifting in a potentially damaging way. The ideal product would be tight enough so that you can slide one or two fingers beneath the surface, but not too tight where you’re cutting off your circulation and preventing natural movement.
Knee braces don’t have to be worn at all times, unless otherwise directed by a medical professional. You might want to only wear your knee brace when you feel pain or participate in any type of physical activity.
How do knee braces help the knees? Most knee braces are designed to keep your knee stable and comfortable during all types of movement. Some provide lateral support to prevent your knee from shifting or moving laterally in a way that can damage the major ligaments of the knee. Others tend to apply significant pressure around the knee cap itself to keep it in place.
Are knee braces only designed to support the knees during movement? No, some knee braces are built purely to provide compression to the knee and the surrounding areas to relieve pain.
What brace is best for knee pain? The best knee brace should provide ample compression that’ll reduce the amount of pain you feel around the knee, without disrupting proper blood flow or movement patterns. It should also include knee straps to keep the brace secure around your knee without slipping or causing chafing. Your knee cap shouldn’t be able to move when you have your brace on freely.
Is it safe to wear a knee brace all the time? If you have knee pain or instability throughout the day, it might be a good idea to wear your knee brace all the time. This is the best way to guarantee mobility and reduced pain. If you’re planning to wear your knee brace all day, you should make sure that it fits well and doesn’t severely impact your movement.
As long as it’s not cutting off your circulation, sliding against your skin, or causing pain, you should experience an improvement in movement with daily knee brace use.
Does wearing a knee brace weaken the knee? Knee braces can weaken the knee if you wear them too frequently. When you’re not using your knee brace, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints are engaged in movements that help to build strength. When you wear a knee brace, you’re limiting the amount of pressure on the knee, thus reducing the activation of the above-listed parts of the knee. If these parts of your knee aren’t used enough, they can begin to lose strength and weaken over time.
How do I know if I need a knee brace? There are two significant reasons that people tend to wear knee braces: Pain reduction and prevention of injuries during athletic activities. If you’re already experiencing some type of knee pain that slightly limits your performance or makes walking uncomfortable, you might want to think about trying out a knee brace to see if it eases your symptoms.
Athletes and those who engage in regular exercise may want to use knee braces to keep the knee joint stable during all aspects of exercise. Though this won’t prevent all injuries, it can help to promote natural knee movements.
Do knee braces help arthritis? Arthritis commonly impacts the functioning of the major joints in the body, and the knee is no different. Knee braces can be used to help reduce joint pain caused by arthritis. By compressing your knee joint and somewhat limiting movement, you’re reducing the amount of pressure placed on your knee during daily activities.
How tight should a knee brace be? When you’re selecting a knee brace, you want to make sure that you can slip one or two fingers beneath the surface of the brace without too much effort. This will let you know that your knee brace is tight enough for support, but not too tight where it’s limiting circulation and increasing the risk of injury. The best way to guarantee a proper fitting knee brace is by purchasing one with adjustable straps rather than a sleeve.
Can knee braces cause blood clotting? Blood clots most often occur in sedentary individuals or areas of the body that are not necessarily active. Blood clots can only be a risk if you wear a knee brace that completely restricts movement. The average knee brace will allow for proper movement, so there should be no concern when it comes to the development of blood clots.
Why does compression help knee pain? When a part of the body is injured or experiencing pain, further movement can aggravate it. Compression keeps an injured area relatively stationary and helps to improve blood flow, which can enhance recovery. Compression also helps to prevent unnatural movements that are likely to damage the structure of the knee and cause pain at the same time.
What is the difference between a knee brace and a knee sleeve? Knee braces come with completely adjustable straps. The physical design of these products provides lateral support to reduce unnatural movements and constriction of the patella to hold it in place. These are most often used during day-to-day activities.
Knee sleeves are easily slipped on and off. They’re most often used to provide compression to the knee and the surrounding areas, which can help to reduce pain and keep the knee stabilized during activities and movements.
Do you need to wear a knee brace on both legs? If you’re wearing knee braces or knee sleeves to enhance athletic performance or prevent injury during exercise, it makes more sense to wear them on both knees. However, if you’re investing in these products to reduce pre-existing knee pain, you only need to wear a knee brace on the impacted leg. If you have pain in both knees, buying a pair of knee braces couldn’t hurt.
Can knee braces prevent hyperextension? When knee braces are worn, they provide compression to not just the knee, but also the surrounding areas. This can help to encourage natural movements while preventing hyperextension.
Do you wear knee brace over your pants? You can wear a knee brace over your pants, but it’s better if the knee brace involves direct contact with the skin. This is mainly because the knee brace won’t fit as well as it can with added clothing material in between. When a knee brace isn’t tight enough, it’ll allow for unnatural movements or movements that cause pain, effectively rendering the brace useless.
Can you wear a knee brace while you sleep? You can wear a knee brace while you sleep as long as it isn’t too tight. Wearing a knee brace as you sleep can help keep your knee in the position that prevents pain from occurring. This is especially useful if you frequently move while you sleep.
Can you exercise with a knee brace? Depending on the knee brace that you’re using, it’s possible that you can exercise or play sports without noticing any significant effects in your performance.
Do knee braces prevent injury? Knee braces might be effective in preventing injury. Many knee injuries, particularly damage to the major ligaments, occur as a result of blunt force trauma or improper movement. When you wear a knee brace, you’re helping to keep your knee cap stable while also preventing lateral movements associated with ligament injuries.
Though sudden movements could lead to injury, whether you’re wearing a brace or not, wearing a brace can help to reduce the risk of injury associated with activities such as running and jumping.
How long do you need to wear a knee brace for pain? Generally speaking, you only need to wear your knee brace if you’re feeling pain or instability in the knee. If the pain is persistent, you’ll likely be wearing your knee brace much more often.
Do knee braces reduce agility? In general, knee braces don’t tend to reduce the agility or speed of an athlete. One study showed that football players that completed agility drills saw no change in speed or agility when the brace was worn, compared to when it wasn’t.
Can a knee brace cause pain? Most cases of knee brace pain are due to improper fitting – mainly it being too tight. There’s also an increased risk of pain if the brace is not properly secured and rubs against the leg. This can cause skin irritation or discomfort. A properly fitted knee brace should not cause pain. If it does, you might want to see your doctor because you might have a more severe knee condition that requires further treatment.
Do I need to wear a knee brace? If you’re experiencing frequent knee pain and notice that compression helps to relieve the pain, a knee brace can prove to be beneficial.
How can you heal an injured knee without a knee brace? To heal and limit knee pain, you can actively try to reduce the movements that cause the pain, ice or heat the knee when pain occurs, and build strength in the knee and the surrounding muscles.
Do knee braces hinder exercise performance? While knee braces might not hinder exercise performacne, there isn’t a lot of research to show that it will improve it – especially in healthy indivdiuals.
What are the different types of knee braces? Several types of knee braces can be used to help stabilize the knee, including wrap-around knee braces, knee stabilizers, knee sleeves, and hinged knee brace
What is the most important feature to look for when buying a knee brace? When it comes to knee braces, the most important feature is the compression and stabilization. These features are included to keep the knee cap stable while also preventing unstable movements of the leg, which helps prevent pain and injuries. The best options include multple straps a swell as gel pads surrounding the knee – which provide stability and comfort.
Is knee brace sizing important? Yes, the size of a knee brace is extermely improtatn to promoterecovery and protet agains injury. Having a product that is too small can severely limit blood flow to the affected region while a product that’s too large won’t provide much stability. One size fits all knee braces should be avoided because everyone’s knee size is different.
Are hot and cold compression packs beneifical for knee braces? Yes, hot and cold compreession packs that are built into knee braces can help reduce inflamation and speed up recoery from a surgery or recent injury.
Are knee braces effective at reducing pain and knee buckling? Yes, a knee brace can help take the pressure off joints to reduce pain. It also supports the knee which can help prevent knee buckling.
Do knee braces compromise movement? Knee braces can compromise some movements, which can be an issue for ahtletes. However, it tends not to interfere ith althletic performcnae despite the reduced movement.
Do knee braces help people that have undergone knee surgery? Yes, knee braces can help patients sho have reconstructed knees following ligament tears. However, it has not been shown to improve their athletic performance, other than reducing pain.
Can knee braces prevent re-injury? Yes, knee braces may help prevent a re-injury and more severe injuries to the same area. It specifically helps to prevent re-injury when used on patients who suffered previous ligament tears.
Knee braces are incredibly useful tools when it comes to recovering from knee injuries or reducing pain around the knee. Purchasing the right product can help boost your mobility, speed up injury recovery, and improve the overall quality of your life.
Knee braces tend to provide a somewhat “quick fix” to mild injuries and discomfort within the knee, but should not be used solely to treat severe knee injuries.
If your knee brace is no longer providing relief or you notice that your injury is worsening, you should consult a healthcare professional for alternate treatment options.
For Fitbug’s #1 knee brace recommendation, click here.