Your knees are parts of your body that face constant pressure and rigorous movement. Whether you’re an athlete who is continuously putting their joints under pressure or an adult who just walks for 30 minutes a day, it is highly likely that you’ll face a knee injury at some point in your life.
On the subject of knee injuries, cases of arthritis are increasing at an alarming rate. Arthritis affects the body joints and can be especially difficult on the knees.
Among the many health issues that people face today, knee injuries are the most common, especially among the elderly. These issues have a common solution, knee support.
Knee supports are highly recommended for people who face knee issues or are prone to face them. The right kind of knee support or brace will protect you from knee injuries and help prevent it. Knee supports are available in a number of types, materials, sizes, and functions.
If you’re new to using knee supports, it can be overwhelming. Not only should they support your knees firmly, but it should also reduce pain, provide alignment, and alleviate stiffness from the joints. So, how do you choose the right type that’s best for your situation?
Since there are a myriad of options to choose from, getting the right knee support for your situation or health problem can be daunting. To make things easier for you, we’re providing a complete guide to choose the right knee support that suits your needs.
Matthew Adams from PowerRebound.com says that 1 in 5 American adults have arthritis, making it the most widespread source of disability in America.
Choosing Knee Support by Style or Types
Targeted towards treating issues with knee tendons, especially the Patellar Tendon, knee straps are used as double or single straps that prevent major issues such as ITBS inflammation, Jumper's Knee (also known as Patellar Tendonitis), Patella Tracking, Osgood-Schlatter Disease, or anterior knee pain . It’s very convenient and easy to use.
These are used when you have to face extensive kneeling. Knee pads are commonly used by athletes such as skaters or bikers. As the name suggests, it is a pad that’s wrapped around your knee and generally fastened by Velcro or fastening straps. However, these don’t provide additional stability or alignment. They don’t reduce knee pain as well. Knee pads are only meant to prevent injuries and reduce the friction of your knees on hard surfaces to avoid damage. The inner portion is made of soft padding and the outer part is made of a hard shell.
Pull up sleeves
As the name suggests, you can easily slip on a knee sleeve over your leg. These come in different sizes and are apt to eliminate pain by providing maximum compression on your knee. Perfect to wear under any outfit, knee sleeves are known to effectively prevent the effects of arthritis. You can also find them under the name Knee Sleeves and are easily available.
Also known as wraparounds, this type of knee brace functions better than sleeves in providing support. These can be used on a daily basis and are very easy to use. Just wrap them around your knees and use the Velcro to fasten them for a tight grip. They are light and apt for training. A lot of athletes prefer this kind because it eliminates knee pain unless it’s severe. Also, common issues such as swelling can be prevented by using this.
Hinged knee braces
Used for more advanced issues such as post-surgery protection and for high-level athletes, hinged knee braces are ideal for preventing further knee damage or other risks. Even though they sound rigid, they actually provide a lot of support. Go for the softer kind for more comfort. The hinges go above and below your knee area, which provides alignment upon bending. You need to hold on to these hinged braces until your doctor recommends a simpler kind as your knee heals.
Closed and open patella braces
An open patella brace type has a hole in the center of the design and a closed patella brace type has, as you guessed, no hole. In the former, the hole serves the purpose of easier movement and releases any pressure that’s created. It’s also great for your kneecaps as it provides more support. On the contrary, closed patella braces distribute the equal amount of support to the entire area, with no additional support to your knee cap. The use of both these types depends on your situation and it’s best to take your doctor’s advice for surety.
Usually made of neoprene, patella straps are used to treat mild to moderate pain. These are minimally designed straps that are open at the top and cover the bottom of your knee. It can be used to treat knee conditions such as tendonitis, osteoarthritis, or chondromalacia. These are also commonly used for normal activities such as walking, running, or hiking to provide extra support to your joints and prevent injuries.
Range of motion knee braces
ROM or Range of Motion Knee Braces is another open patella type of support that’s adjustable in size. Usually made of aluminum alloy, this type of support has a heavy skeleton and covers your entire leg, from the thighs to the calves. It provides maximum support level and is used to treat conditions such as ACL injuries, MCL injuries, or post-surgery effects.
This type has built-in magnets that help in proper knee alignment and pain reduction. These braces can be used for daily purposes and help in preventing knee injuries.
Custom knee support
These are specifically designed for patients that are diagnosed with uncommon knee issues or according to individual fittings. These are generally advised and designed by specialist doctors or physicians and customized to specific patients.
Choosing knee support by conditions
Arthritis or joint pain
Arthritis Knee Braces are specifically designed to combat the issue of arthritis and joint pain in elderly people. It provides maximum support to specific parts of the knee that face the arthritic pain. It is also used to reduce pain and improve the stability of your legs. If worn on a regular basis, this type of knee support can eliminate or delay the need for surgery. We’d recommend using a knee sleeve on a regular basis, even if you don’t face the issue of arthritis yet. Use a brace that eliminates swelling, inflammation, and reduces pain.
Athletes constantly push their legs and knees to maximum efforts, which might lead to serious injuries at some point. To keep your knees fully functional over the years, we’d recommend using a support that aligns your knee and protects your ligaments during sudden and swift movements. A hinged knee brace or a high-quality leg sleeve is an ideal option for this condition.
ACL Knee Braces are used to protect your knee from any kind of pain that might be caused due to the after-effects of surgery or when you face issues like ligament tears or reconstruction surgery. Also used to protect your knees on a regular basis, ACL Knee Braces are also used to provide more stability and can be used for normal purposes.
General overall support
If you’ve faced the slightest of joint pain, you should start wearing knee support that offers overall support during daily activities. An open patella knee support is ideal for this situation as it keeps your knee joint in place and provides maximum compression. Choose a model that offers breathability and doesn’t irritate when worn for long. It can also be worn under normal outfits.
Choosing Knee Support by Levels of Protection
First Level: primary or basic protection
Used for everyday purposes, the knee supports that provide a primary level of protection are generally knee sleeves. These can be normally used by adults and the elderly who want to treat mild to moderate pain. These are also easy to use and completely affordable. Also used to treat sprains, athletes can use this kind during normal training sessions, or the elderly can use it to treat conditions such as tendonitis and arthritis.
Second Level: advanced protection
Also used to treat mild to moderate pain, this level includes knee support types such as open patella support. This is a type that provides an advanced level of protection, is generally more durable and has great support. It is used to treat sprains, swelling, and chronic pain. It can be used when your kneecap needs extra support.
Third Level: maximum or elite protection
Used to treat moderate to major knee issues, the third level of protection gives maximum support. This is used when your knee needs constant support, especially after surgery. It protects your joints and aligns your knee during bending movements. The most common type of knee support used for maximum protection can be hinged knee braces.
Fourth Level: maximum plus protection
The fourth level provides maximum protection among all. This needs to be put on all the time and only removed when advised by your doctor. This is commonly used for patients that have undergone surgery or who face constant buckling. It also provides alignment, strength, and relieves any recurring chronic pain. It can also be used for therapeutic recovery.
Choosing knee support by material
Bamboo and charcoal
Now, this combination might seem odd, but you can find braces or knee supports that are made of a composition containing bamboo and charcoal. These materials are known to provide a high level of compression and a proper temperature level. These are used more for comfort and basic necessities rather than providing optimum support. Hence, these are only recommended to use for daily activities and to provide normal support to your knees. The common type of knee supports that use this material are knee sleeves.
Normally used to manufacture supports that are ideal for athletes, spandex is ideal to improve blood flow and offer flexibility while performing activities. As you would have guessed, spandex is used to make supports such as athletic knee sleeves or other common slip-on supports. It’s normally mixed with nylon to provide durability.
Neoprene is one of the most common materials used to manufacture knee braces. It provides maximum water retention, regulates the temperature, offers stretchability and durability, and amazing healing properties. The most common types of knee support that use neoprene as their primary material is hinged, patella and standard supports.
As mentioned above, aluminum alloy is used in braces type such as Range of Motion braces that are sturdier and require more stability to form a stronger skeleton. Even though it looks heavy, it’s extremely lightweight and does not cause any discomfort to the wearer. It’s also rust-proof and can be used for a longer period until the knee issues are resolved. Hence, it’s also durable and worth the money invested.
Lastly, we should mention the importance of choosing knee support that’s right in size. While some of these designs are a universal fit, others need to be purchased according to your leg dimensions, which generally come in S/M or M/L sizes. It’s important to ensure the fit.
If it’s too tight, it will inhibit the blood flow, and if it’s too loose, it won’t provide the required compression that’s necessary for proper healing. You can also find adjustable knee supports that fit according to your dimensions and comfort level.
To check if it fits properly (not too loose and not too tight), slide in 2 fingers between the support and your skin. It should fit perfectly. You can also ask for professional advice or your doctor to check the fit in case you’re unsure.
Whether you’re suffering from recurring knee pain or simply want extra support for your sports activity, you can follow this guide to choose the right knee support or brace to suit your needs. You can compare the various types, its materials, composition, and level of support to arrive at a perfect combination of knee support that’s ideal for you.
And if you’re facing recurring or unbearable pain, you need to seek your doctor or physical therapist’s advice to diagnose the issue and come up with an apt solution.