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Top 5 Best Knee Braces for Running – Which Brands Work Best?

A knee brace is a device which many people find to be extremely helpful when they have some kind of knee pain or injury. Knee braces provide considerable support, and they facilitate knee movement for individuals who have different kinds of problems with their knees like pain while running. If you’re recovering from a knee injury, a knee brace can be extremely important to deliver the stability that you need at one of the body’s most important joints.

When you’re looking around for a knee brace for running, you’ll quickly discover that there are tons of options available. It can even be a little bit overwhelming trying to differentiate between all the various products on the market. Below you’ll find descriptions of the five best knee braces currently in the marketplace, and some information about what makes each one a good product.

Why wear a knee brace?

There are actually quite a few reasons why people wear knee braces, especially for athletes who may have sustained an injury. It’s also possible that you have a chronic knee condition, and you need ongoing support and stability in that joint. Here are some of the most common reasons that people will typically turn to a knee brace for support.

Recovery from injury

If you have sustained an injury, it’s more than likely that your doctor will recommend orthopedic recovery support. If your injury is minor, you may need to wear the knee brace for a week or so, but if it’s more serious, that could involve wearing the brace for several months.

These kinds of knee braces are known as rehabilitative braces, and they allow you a certain level of mobility while you’re recovering from an injury. A rehabilitation knee brace allows you to function more or less normally, but it won’t let you do anything like overextend the knee to cause additional injury.

Support after recovery

Once you’ve gained full functionality through the recovery process, it could be that your knee is still somewhat weak. It’s a good idea to continue wearing your knee brace throughout this time to promote further healing. These kinds of braces are known as functional braces, and they’re most commonly worn by individuals who have had an injury within the past six months.

It’s very common for athletes to wear these kinds of braces, and they’re also worn by individuals who have suffered some kind of knee injury. A functional knee brace delivers stability and support to the knee and protects it from further injury. Whether you are active in sporting events, or you have a job that keeps you on your feet, a functional brace can reduce the risk of further injury, while you’re regaining knee strength.

Prevents injury

In many cases, wearing a knee brace while running will be put to use so as to prevent an injury rather than to help recover from one. These are often worn by athletes, because they’re aware of the possibility of knee injuries, and wearing the brace can help to prevent such incidents. These kinds of knee braces would be classified as functional braces or small compression braces.

Their primary function is to prevent the knee from being pushed out of position excessively, thus straining some of the associated ligaments and tendons. You’ll still have total functionality with your knee when you wear such a brace, but it gives you confidence that an injury is much less likely. A preventative brace like this will go a long way toward keeping your knees healthy, especially if you’re someone who is extremely active, and is more likely to strain your knees.

Help with arthritis

Anyone who has chronic arthritis will know that even something as simple as walking can be a very uncomfortable activity. If you’re someone with a bad case of arthritis, it could even be that you can no longer participate in some of the activities you used to love doing. A knee brace can restore some functionality in situations like this, and help you enjoy some of your favorite activities again.

Sometimes these kinds of knee braces are referred to as unloader braces, because they remove weight from your knee and redistribute it to other parts of the leg. That means the knee is only responsible for causing movement changes and differences in direction. An unloader brace has the capability to help you regain mobility, so that you can again participate in activities you love. If you have progressive arthritis, or if you’re an athlete getting older, it might definitely be to your advantage to start wearing an unloader brace to improve your quality of life.

Prevent inflammation and swelling

It’s very common for knee injuries to be accompanied by inflammation and swelling, even if you’ve experienced a minor knee injury. When you have a swollen knee, that can cause increased pressure and pain or discomfort. Swelling actually interferes with the recovery process, and it can cause it to be extended by a significant period of time. As a matter of fact, it might even prevent the injury from healing altogether, and that’s why a number of people use a compression brace to reduce and prevent any swelling around the knee area.

Compression braces are very useful for running because they can provide you with the kind of compression you need, rather than having to use a bandage wrap around the knee. This type of brace generally includes pouches that you can insert cold packs or hot packs into, to bring about further recovery and healing. This will allow you to proceed with your day, rather than having to sit on the couch with your knee elevated, and undergoing hot or cold therapy sessions.

Exo Sleeve Knee Brace

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One of the best knee compression braces for running on the market today is the Exo Sleeve Knee brace. The manufacturer has a tremendous reputation for providing several different high-quality knee braces which have been proven effective in many different situations. In addition to marketing knee braces, the company also provides fitness equipment, weight belts, sandbags, resistance bands, and other fitness equipment. The knee braces sold by the company deliver warm stability, and solid support for reducing swelling and inflammation, as well as improving circulation. These knee braces fit most people’s anatomies, and they’re often found to be ideal for bodybuilders, weightlifters, and cross-trainers who are looking for extra support. The smallest sleeve has a thickness of 3 mm, and it’s ideal for someone who wishes to retain agility during exercise sessions. The knee braces offered by this company are terrific for providing support while still maintaining knee mobility.

Name Exo Sleeve
Highlights
  • Comes in 3 sizes: light, 5 mm, and 7 mm
  • Variety of colors and designs
  • Offers greater stability, warmth, and compression
  • Contoured fit
  • Material Antimicrobial neoprene
    Cost $29

    SHOP HERE

    TheraICE Rx Compression Knee Brace

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    This compression sleeve has the capability of eliminating your knee pain within just a few minutes after being emplaced. It is a very popular device, and if you look online, you’ll see that it has already received thousands of 5-star reviews. The knee brace marketed by this company uses a combination of heating and cooling with compression, so as to permit wearers to participate in most of their favorite physical activities, including running, while remaining pain-free. This knee brace also includes a built-in pack that freezes when placed in the freezer, and which also heats up when put in the microwave. After it’s been heated up or frozen, you can slip it over your knee and have it perform some healing action for as long as 15 minutes. This is one of the top-rated knee braces on the market today, and it has generated more than $1 million in total consumer sales. It’s one of those ideal knee braces that allows you to experience the benefits of compression, while also delivering hot or cold therapy.

    Name TheraIce Rx Compression Knee Brace
    Highlights
  • Uses heating/cooling and compression to relieve pain
  • Soothes pain within minutes
  • Built in gel that heats up/freezes
  • Has earned more than $1 million in sales
  • Material Plastic
    Cost $35

    SHOP HERE

    Knee Wrap Pro

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    This is a compression knee brace which you can slip right over your knee for instant dissipation of pain and discomfort. Like most of the other sleeves on our list, this brace is machine-washable, which means you can keep it relatively free of the odors that may develop during strenuous workouts. It’s ideal for either athletic uses or non-athletic activities that simply require solid support. It’s an affordable knee brace that delivers comparable value to other braces on our list. If you decide that you’re interested in purchasing several of these braces all at the same time, you’ll be able to have a discount applied to your total purchase, to make it really affordable. For anyone looking for a high-quality knee brace that is easy on the budget, this will be a great choice.

    Name KneeWrap Pro
    Highlights
  • Machine washable
  • Lightweight compression sleeve
  • Advanced stabilization technology
  • Comfortable
  • Material Neoprene
    Cost $39

    SHOP HERE

    Knee Hero

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    One of the more expensive knee braces on our list, this knee brace retails at $65 per unit. This might seem like a pretty expensive product, but on the other hand, it comes with a 2-year warranty, and that’s something not routinely offered by most manufacturers. The Knee Hero brace is capable of protecting and supporting the kneecap, meniscus, and the overall knee joint while pounding the pavement out on a run. It’s very lightweight, and it’s constructed with non-slip materials so that you can be confident it will stay in place throughout an entire workout, or while you’re participating in on-field activities. You can wear this knee brace throughout your entire program of daily activity, if you’re looking to protect your knee from any further injury. It also helps to relieve joint pain, and a number of consumers purchase this knee brace to assist in their recovery process. The product is marketed in three different sizes ranging from medium to extra-large, and the functionality that it delivers really makes it worth the extra cost. It’s also made of materials that are considered to be of higher quality than most other knee braces, so this is a case where you get what you pay for.

    Name Knee Hero
    Highlights
  • Protects/supports knee joint, kneecap, and meniscus
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Available in various sizes
  • Material Patented, high-quality medical material
    Cost $65

    SHOP HERE

    Compressa

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    This is one of the top sellers in the knee brace industry, because it’s actually a knee brace and a compression sleeve all rolled into one. That means blood circulation will be improved while your knee is being protected against further injury. In effect, your muscles will be loosened up, and your recovery time will be shortened. On top of all that, pain and inflammation can be reduced when you couple the brace with hot and cold therapy. The product was first developed in Germany, and it has been used ever since by a number of elite runners and athletes who participate in elite competitions. It’s very helpful during lifting activities as well as a number of other sports pursuits. It’s the ideal knee brace for both amateurs and professionals, because it delivers all the support you need, while also protecting your knee from other kinds of injury. The purchase price is $60, but you actually get three braces in the package instead of one or two, so it ends up being much less expensive than other investments you might make in the way of knee braces.

    Name Compressa
    Highlights
  • Compression sleeve & brace all in one
  • Protects knee from injury
  • Improves circulation
  • Budget friendly, only $59.99 for a pack of 3
  • Material Air knit fabric
    Cost $59.99/3 pack

    SHOP HERE

    Caring for your knee brace

    Once you have found the ideal knee brace for your circumstances, you will want to make it last as long as possible, which means you need to take care of it. A big part of your normal maintenance should be to make sure that it’s properly washed, and this is important because it’s very likely that your knee brace will get dirty and smelly after a few runs. Anyone who regularly uses their knee brace during strenuous physical activities is bound to impart some sweat and odors to the device. The good thing is that it’s very easy to keep your knee brace in tip-top condition, because washing it is really quite easy. Most knee sleeves are labeled as machine-washable, although others do state that they must be hand-washed for safety’s sake. In order to get the most usage out of your knee brace, you should pay attention to the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions about how to keep it clean.

    Tender loving care (TLC)

    There’s a danger of causing your knee brace to wear out much too quickly if you were to toss it in the washer after every single usage. You should be a little bit conservative about cleaning your knee brace, so that you don’t wear it out too fast. Rather than washing it every single time you use it, use a little bit of tender loving care (TLC). For instance, if you are making use of a sleeve type of brace, just turn it inside out after usage so that the air can help dry it out. Then just place it back on a box and let it rest there until the next time you need it. What this does is prevent the possibility of bacteria and mildew from developing and sticking to the surface of the knee brace.

    Hand-washing

    It’s a good idea that you don’t expose your knee brace to powerful cleaners or detergents any more often than you have to. That means you should not toss it in your washing machine after every usage. In order to keep away all the odors and nasty sweat fragrances, you should only have to hand-wash it once a month. On the other hand, if you’re using your knee brace every single day, you may have to consider a once-a-week washing. When you do wash it, use only a teaspoon of mild detergent, and you may even want to just use some mild baby shampoo. This will make sure that your knee brace gets as clean as possible, without exposing it to any harsh chemicals. Once your knee brace has been cleaned, just leave it out in the air to dry by itself. You should never put your knee brace into a dryer, because that will degrade the fabrics of the product.

    Machine-washing

    Most people don’t bother hand-washing these days, because it’s simply too tedious. Fortunately, mostly braces on today’s marketplace are machine-washable, and you can even toss your brace in with the rest of your clothes. If it turns out that you’re in the practice of deep cleaning your workout clothes, you will probably need to wash your knee brace separately. To avoid damaging your knee brace when machine washing, place it in a garment bag and use the delicate cycle on your washing machine. Keep in mind that you should only be using a small amount of detergent when washing, and once the cycle is complete, plac your knee brace out so it can have a chance to air dry. Once again, do not place your knee brace in a machine dryer.

    Boiling your knee brace

    If it turns out that your knee brace is extremely dirty and has not been washed in quite a while, it may be necessary for you to take a more advanced approach to get it clean again. You can boil your knee brace to remove all the nastiness from it by following a simple procedure. All you have to do is fill a pot with water, and place it on the stove until it reaches a boiling point. Once it does reach boiling, put your knee brace in it and allow it to simmer for approximately five minutes, then remove it from the heat source. Add some ordinary detergent to the water and mix it up, then allow it to sit until the entire mix is cool again. Once the mixture has cooled off, remove the brace from the pot and rinse it off. Then you can just lay it out so that it can air dry.

    Vinegar soaking

    One last way for you to clean your knee brace is by soaking it in vinegar. If nothing else works, this will usually produce the kind of results that make your brace clean and usable again. No matter how bad your knee brace smells or how dirty it is, you should never use bleach on it or any other harsh chemical. That can cause the brace to be stained, and it can also ruin the compression properties built into the new brace originally. In order to do the vinegar soaking procedure, just combine 120ml of white vinegar with 3 liters of boiling water. Allow the knee brace to soak for 30 minutes, while stirring every few minutes. After the 30 minutes has elapsed, remove the knee brace from the vinegar solution and wash it with an ordinary detergent. Then turn it inside out and let it dry in the air. If this fails to get your knee brace clean and usable again, it may be time to just discard this knee brace and purchase a brand new one.

    Difference between a knee brace and a knee sleeve

    While both of these products will offer compression qualities, there are some notable differences. A knee brace will generally provide a considerable amount of protection and support, whereas a sleeve generally does not. You probably don’t want to use a knee sleeve if you have injured knee ligaments, because you won’t get the stability and support that you need during the recovery period. Knee braces tend to be much more bulky than knee sleeves, and they’re made with a variety of different materials, depending on how much support they deliver. Knee sleeves are far less bulky, but they cannot provide the same level of support and protection that a brace will.

    How long should you wear a knee brace?

    When you do end up having to wear a knee brace, the length of time that you keep it in place will depend on the type of injury you’ve sustained and how much support you require from the knee brace while running. Some people continue wearing them long after their recovery. They’re also worn after recovery to prevent further injuries. If you really want to know exactly how long you should keep your knee brace in place, you should consult with your family medical doctor, who can advise you on the optimal time frame. Still, for your own peace of mind, you want to continue wearing the knee brace until after you have fully recovered from a knee injury.

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