The 10 Best Knee Braces
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Don't let arthritis, inflammation, or an injury slow you down. The additional stability you get from one of these knee braces will let you go about your day while protecting the damaged or vulnerable area. We've included supports specifically designed to shield as well as those that are lightweight and flexible enough to let you continue your fitness regimen or favorite sports. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 02, 2020:
We've replaced the Bio Skin Gladiator that is out of stock with a similar model, the Orthomen ROM. It comes with a lockable angled hinge that can help keep your knee in a certain position. This option works well for those who are recovering from certain surgeries, though it is more expensive than other selections. It has multiple features that can help create a custom fit.
The Tech Ware Pro Adjustable is no longer available, so we decided to include the Bodyprox Support. It has a couple of cross straps that can help keep your knee stabilized, and has a silicone strip along the top hem, which can help prevent it from slipping while you're on the go. Some claim that it may cause irritation on the area behind the knee, though this can be a common issue for most knee braces with cross straps.
The Cambivo Sleeve Support has taken over the out-of-stock Futuro Comfort Lift due to its incredibly low price tag and moisture-wicking fabric. This selection is available in a variety of colors, so those who miss the beige appearance Futuro offered will find solace in Cambivo's similarly-toned option. It has a double silicone gel grip that may help prevent sliding and slipping during your runs.
June 04, 2019:
Knee braces are useful for everyone from young injured athletes to the elderly and are indicated for everything from mild sprains to recovery from major surgeries. We looked for the best knee braces that serve a variety of categories.
The UFlex Athletics Compression Sleeve comes highly recommended as it is surprisingly well-constructed and supportive for its low price. This makes it a great choice for chronic knee pain, because if it wears out from daily, long-term usage, it isn't too expensive to replace. It's also a good price point for teen athletes who suffer injuries as they grow and tend to leave things behind in the locker rooms.
The Shock Doctor 872 takes one of the top spots for its robust support for more serious injuries, while still not restricting everyday movement. It's also designed to last for more than one injury.
We had to drop the Winzone Support Sleeve from the list due to lack of availability.
Breg Knee Braces Breg offers a wide variety of knee braces that provide soft support and post-op stability. This website also includes walkers, canes, and braces for other parts of the body. If you or your loved ones run into sport-related injuries often, bookmarking this website may be worthwhile. breg.com
The Vulnerable, Venerable Knee
Knees are so susceptible to injury primarily because of their complexity.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself physically against a much larger opponent, there are a few incredibly vulnerable places for you to attack before they get the better of you with sheer size. In a lot of self-defense training methods, you'll quickly learn to identify and attack these targets, which include the knees.
Knees are so susceptible to injury primarily because of their complexity. It's that very complexity, of course, that makes them such a useful aspect of our anatomy, allowing us to jump significant heights, to pivot, juke, dodge, duck, crawl, and even to use them as weapons themselves. But in order for a single joint to have that much strength and flexibility, it has to contain a handful of ligaments.
The majority of knee injuries occur when one or more of the four larger ligaments of the knee joint tears. If you've seen it happen to someone, you know how gruesome it is. If it's happened to you, you know how painful it is. Other injuries can include the sensitive alignment of your kneecap and its ligaments, as well as avulsion fractures to the bottom of your femur or the tops of your shin bones. A lot of the time, a significant injury to your knee will require surgery for a proper healing process.
Whether or not you need surgery, immobilizing and compressing your knee as much as possible is often the most effective, and always the most prudent, initial treatment. For this, we turn to a good quality knee brace, as they are each intended to provide stability and compression to an injured area. That compression will help prevent a buildup of fluids, the removal of which often results in a surgery of its own.
Immobilization is vital for the prevention of further injury. Those four primary knee ligaments, the ACL, MCL, PCL, and LCL all work together to provide stability. When one or more is injured, it's very easy for you to unintentionally flex your knee in a direction that it isn't designed to flex, further damaging already torn tissue. By reducing the articulation of the knee from without, you protect yourself against such additional injury.
Selecting a brace for any injury will depend heavily on the severity of the injury at hand, or at knee, as it were. Your doctor may well have a specific recommendation for you, and far be it for us to fly in the face of modern medicine and all its achievements. It is worth remembering, however cynically, that a lot of doctors have relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as sports medicine companies, and that their recommendation might be affected by this relationship.
Your doctor may well have a specific recommendation for you, and far be it for us to fly in the face of modern medicine and all its achievements.
So, it falls to you to do a little bit of critical thinking when comparing the knee braces on our list with each other, as well as with anything you may have had suggested to you. We think you'll find our recommendations in line with those of top doctors, if not exceeding them.
The first thing to contend with is the degree to which you need to stabilize your knee. For minor hyper-extensions, which usually only result in the smallest tears to a single ligament, the simpler knee braces on our list would suffice. As the complexity and severity of your injury increases, so too should the apparent complexity of your brace increase.
For the most severe injuries, look for a knee brace with a number of straps above and below the knee cap, as these will be the most effective in providing stability and inhibiting movement. The straps also allow you to adjust the tightness of the brace for maximum comfort.
On a comfort note, it's also worth investigating whether you have any physical aversion to certain medical materials. Most of the braces on our list are made from hypoallergenic materials like treated cotton or neoprene, but that doesn't mean you won't find one material more comfortable for your skin than another.
The Xanadu Papyrus
It doesn't deal with knees specifically, but the oldest medical text to describe the immobilization of a joint with some kind of brace dates back to roughly 1600 BCE. The ancient Egyptian discovery is named for the man who found it, an explorer and anthropologist named Edwin Smith.
As such, his descriptions of various injuries and their recommended treatments, beginning with injuries to the head and working downward, cut off at around mid-torso.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus is widely believed to have been a scholarly exercise cut off before its midpoint. In all likelihood, a medical scholar sat copying the information from a known medical text for study purposes when, like Coleridge composing Kubla Kahn, something called him away from his task. As such, his descriptions of various injuries and their recommended treatments, beginning with injuries to the head and working downward, cut off at around mid-torso.
In the intervening years, we've learned a thing or two about human anatomy and physiology, owing in no small part to individuals willing to dissect dead bodies in the name of medical science, often against the will of their governments. In more recent years, MRI technology and computer imaging, as well as 3-D printing, have allowed manufacturers to research and create medical and athletic braces like the ones on our list, which represent the pinnacle of our anatomical understanding.