Many times, when people decide they want to get in shape, they take up running because there’s not much need for it. You don’t need a lot of fancy workout equipment or clothes and you don’t really have to do much research.
Unfortunately, many people lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle. This means that our bodies are not used to strenuous activities and even something as simple as running can cause injury or worsen an existing one- especially when it comes to your knees. After all, the knees are what takes the brunt of the impact.
If you want to get out and start running, it’s important that you understand the types of injuries that may occur, as well as how a knee brace might be able to help. In this article, we’ll explain the most common injuries and the types of knee braces that are suitable for running. We will also provide you with reviews on what we feel are the top 5 best knee braces for running on the market. We hope that we can help you get started on your journey to get fit through running.
Common Knee Injuries While Running
Since running is a repetitive, weight bearing exercise, there is an increased risk of injury, especially to the knee. Knee injuries while running are quite common. In fact, approximately 50% of all running injuries involve the knee. Here are five of the most common knee injuries.
According to the experts, runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is the most common cause of knee pain among runners. This pain presents itself around the patella either after sitting with knees bent for a long period of time or when active.
When you run, your femur, tibia, and kneecap all move. This causes pressure to be put on the kneecap and when that pressure becomes too much, the tissues become inflamed/irritated. In addition, it may be caused by poor form, tight muscles, or structural issues.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or ITBS, is another common injury for runners- especially those who typically run long distances. This injury affects the iliotibial band, which is a layer of connective tissue running from the hip to just past your knee. The pain associated with this injury is just outside of the knee.
This injury is usually caused by tightness and overuse of the iliotibial band. The reason for the tightness is because runners are typically moving forward and backwards instead of side-to-side. This causes friction where the IT band meets the knee- which results in pain and inflammation.
Another common injury among runners is patellar tendinitis, also referred to as “jumper’s knee”. The pain associated with this condition is located just below the knee in the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the shin. This tendon is what allows full extension of your knee.
This injury is typically caused by suddenly increasing running distance/frequency or by overuse of the tendon. The additional stress on the patellar tendon causes tiny tears, which leads to pain and inflammation. Another reason for added strain on the patellar tendon is tight hamstrings or quad muscles.
Meniscus tears commonly occur in runners also. This is when the piece of cartilage sitting between your thigh bone and shinbone gets torn. You have two menisci in each of your knees- one on the inside of the knee and one on the outside. A meniscus tear causes pain and inflammation around your knee, which makes it hard to extend it.
Typically, a meniscus tear is the result of repetitive use of the menisci or activities that involve twisting, such as when you make sudden stops or quickly switch directions when running.
- Prepatellar bursitis, which involves your kneecap
- Pes Anserine bursitis, which involves the inside of your knee near the hamstring
The pain associated with knee bursitis is located on your kneecap or just below your knee joint towards the inside.
This injury typically occurs when one of the bursae in your knee becomes inflamed due to repetitive strain. This usually occurs when a runner suddenly increases mileage or speed.
Now that you know more about the most common injuries for runners, let’s take a closer look at the types of knee braces for running.
Types of Knee Braces for Running
If you are shopping around for a knee brace to wear while running, you’ve probably figured out that there are lots of options. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the three main types of knee braces for running. Be sure that you consult with your medical provider before choosing a brace on your own.
The first type of knee brace/support we will look at is the compression sleeve. This type of brace provides support, while also allowing mobility. They tighten the area surrounding the joint to hold ligaments in place and limit swelling. Some of the other knee braces on the market will limit movement, but compression sleeves are typically safe, as long as you feel like it’s helping. If you have a condition known as Runner’s Knee, you can use a compression sleeve along with other methods to keep the injury from getting worse.
The second type of knee brace we will look at is the patellar sleeve. This provides a little more support than compression sleeves due to the modification near the patella, or kneecap. This type of knee brace is typically used when there are issues with the patellar ligament. However, if relied on for too long, it can cause the ligament to become weakened. Sometimes, this type of brace will have adjustable straps for increased stability.
There are two types of patellar sleeves: open and closed. An open sleeve keeps the kneecap in place, so it’s ideal for those with tendon issues. A closed sleeve has a reinforced area around the kneecap, so they offer more general support- but they are more restrictive. Runners typically choose the open version due to the freedom they provide as well as the support offered to areas that are stressed while running.
Functional Knee Braces
The final type of knee brace for running is the functional knee brace. This type of brace is for serious issues. Unless you have a significant injury or you are a professional athlete, you should not need more protection than this.
This type of knee brace is different from the other two because it has additional straps and supports that restrict movement. Since this type of brace restricts movement, you should not use a functional knee brace unless your medical provider has recommended it. The other two can be used without a medical consultation.
Common Materials Used in Knee Brace for Running
When it comes to knee braces for running, there’s a wide variety of materials that are used. However, the ones we will go over below are the most common. Most of the knee braces on the market are made of a combination of these materials and others.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that works great under a wide range of temperatures. It also can withstand more wear and tear than other materials. Therefore, a knee brace made of neoprene is likely to last much longer than others.
The inside of knee braces that use anti-slip silicone will stay gripped to your leg. You won’t have to worry about them falling down or shifting around while you are in the middle of your run. This is a breathable but tough material.
The materials most often used in knee braces for running are lightweight and breathable- and nylon is one of them. This material minimizes the loss or range of movement that is caused by some braces. However, you may find that this material can get uncomfortable, especially after wearing it for a long time.
Spandex is another common material used in knee braces for running. This material is stretchy and comfortable, so a brace made of this is ideal for daily use. That being said, they don’t offer much support compared to other materials. This may not be a disadvantage, especially if your primary purpose is to support your knee without taking pressure off your ligaments and muscles.
Top 5 Best Knee Brace for Running Highlights
|PentagonFit Knee Sleeve||
|TheraIce Rx Compression Sleeve||
Top 5 Best Knee Brace for Running Reviews
Finding a knee brace for running can be complicated. There are lots of options on the market. However, we are here to make things easier. Below are our picks for the top 5 best knee braces for running.
|Price||$29 per pair|
|Sizes||X-small to X-large|
Exo Knee Sleeves are some of the best knee compression sleeves you will ever get your hands on. The company has a solid reputation for providing quality knee sleeves that are effective in a variety of situations. This company has been producing knee sleeves for many years. They also produce other fitness equipment, including sandbags, resistance bands, weight belts, wrist wraps, and more.
Exo offers three thicknesses in their knee sleeves: light (approximately 3 mm), 5 mm, and 7mm. The light version is ideal for agility, while the 5 mm and 7 mm work great for CrossFit training, bodybuilding, and powerlifting.
The Exo Sleeve starts at $29 per pair. This is one of the only brands that offers a variety of designs and colors- so you’re not stuck with the same, boring black. You can let your personality shine through!
|Price||$39 per unit|
|Sizes||One size fits most|
If you want a lightweight compression sleeve that you can slip over your knees to enjoy relief from pain and discomfort, you’ve come to the right place. KneeWrap Pro is exactly that. KneeWrap Pro is machine washable, which means it’s perfect for all scenarios: athletic and non-athletic alike.
KneeWrap Pro offers similar value to other knee sleeves on the list, coming in at $39 per sleeve. That being said, if you order multiple items, it will cost as little as $20 per unit. If you want a simple knee brace made of quality materials, this is definitely a viable option.
PentagonFit Knee Sleeve
|Product||PentagonFit Knee Sleeve|
|Price||$39.95 per sleeve|
|Sizes||Medium, Large, X-large|
PentagonFit is a medical-grade knee brace that instantly stabilizes, supports, and protects the knee. According to their website, this knee brace will relieve pain and prevent injury. In addition, if you have an injury, your recovery time will be drastically improved.
This knee brace also promises benefits that no other brace does: it improves blood flow and increases support and stability. This brace is also believed to relieve pain and inflammation in the knee, while improving range of motion and protecting the knee from injuries.
The PentagonFit Knee Sleeve costs $39.95 and is ideal for those that are experiencing conditions such as ligament tears, arthritis, knee tendinitis, muscle sprains, and other similar conditions. Finally, this sleeve offers a money-back guarantee- if you don’t like it, let them know and they will explain the process of returning the product and getting your money back.
TheraIce Rx Compression Sleeve
|Product||TheraIce Rx Compression Sleeve|
|Price||$35 per sleeve|
|Sizes||Small, Medium, Large, X-large|
According to their website, TheraIce Rx Compression Sleeve will eliminate knee pain within a few minutes. They have a stellar reputation, with a few thousand five-star reviews online. According to the website, this knee brace allows users to enjoy their favorite workouts without pain using a combination of heating/cooling and compression.
This knee sleeve comes with a built-in gel that will freeze (when placed in the freezer) or warm up (when placed in the microwave). Once frozen or heated, simply slip it over your knee and allow it to remain for 15 minutes. This will relieve any pain/discomfort you are experiencing.
During this time, you can enjoy the benefits of heat/cold with compression and engage in your typical physical activities. TheraIce is so popular, they have more than $1 million in sales, which means they are one of the top-rated knee braces on the market today.
|Price||$65 per unit|
|Sizes||Medium, Large, X-large|
If you are in the market for a knee brace that offers support to the kneecap, ligaments, and meniscus, this could be exactly the one you’re looking for. This is a breathable, non-slip brace that can be worn during workouts to provide support and to prevent strains/sprains and it’s so comfortable, it can be worn during your daily activities as well.
According to the manufacturer, this knee brace eliminates joint pain and improves recovery from injury. It is available in three sizes and costs $65 per brace. While it is one of the higher price points on the list, it also comes with up to a 2-year customer satisfaction warranty, which is something most of the other braces do not have.
Benefits of Running with Knee Brace
There are lots of benefits associated with running with a knee brace. We’ll take a look at these below:
A knee brace keeps your knee and the area around it warm, which means your risk of injury is decreased. Additionally, the knee brace can help with blood flow through the leg, which is beneficial.
A knee brace keeps your knee compact, which helps you avoid intensifying injuries due to overextending your knee joint. This additional support means that ligaments are not as likely to slip out of position.
A knee brace reduces the impact to your knee during high-impact activities, which decreases your chance of sustaining an injury due to poor technique or a misstep.
A knee brace keeps your knee in place, which alleviates mild to moderate pain during running. This is because of the increased blood flow and positioning of the knee.
FAQs for Best Knee Brace for Running
Everyone always has questions when it comes to wearing knee braces while running. We can’t answer them all, but below we will address a few of the most commonly asked questions about this topic.
Can a knee brace for running be worn all day?
Most knee braces are fine to wear all day. However, if you have an injury, you should consult with your medical provider about how long you should be wearing your knee brace.
Can a knee brace weaken your knees?
The primary goal of a knee brace is to offer support, alignment, and pain relief for your knees. That being said, if you do rely too much on a knee brace for support, you may find that your knees do become weakened. A brace should be used in conjunction with other rehabilitative actions.
When should you wear a knee brace for running?
While it might seem harmless, you really should not be wearing a knee brace for running unless you are experiencing mild to moderate pain, you’ve had knee issues in the past, or your medical provider has recommended it. If you feel like you need it and you have not consulted your medical provider, start with a compression sleeve, as it will be the least likely to negatively impact the strength of your tendons and muscles.
Which knee brace should you choose?
The most appropriate knee brace for you will depend upon the level of support you want/need or what is recommended by your medical provider. The decision will be based on the type of injury you have, whether you are recovering from surgery, and how much movement you should have.
How tight should a knee brace fit?
Your knee brace should provide you with adequate support but also still be comfortable. The best way to determine the appropriate size is to check the size chart of the brand you are looking at then measure your knee. Typically, size is based on the circumference of your knee just below the center of your kneecap.
Can you wear your knee brace to bed?
If your knees are healthy and you’re just using a brace to prevent injury, you won’t benefit much from sleeping in a knee brace. However, it can be beneficial for those who do have knee issues or are recovering from surgery.
Do you need a prescription for a knee brace?
No. You can buy a knee brace over-the-counter online or at your local pharmacy.
What type of knee brace should you use?
The most appropriate knee brace will depend on what it is that you need. This is why it’s best to consult with your medical provider to determine what you would get the most benefit from.
In most cases, a lightweight knee brace will work for those who need some additional support. However, those who have an injury may find it more beneficial to wear a heavier brace.
Is a knee brace better than athletic tape?
Both taping and bracing are beneficial, but there are several disadvantages to taping. For one, tape is not as durable. Movement and sweat can decrease its effectiveness.
Can a knee brace mask your injury?
You should never assume that a knee brace will help every knee issue. A brace will not fix an injury- but it will offer support while you heal. If you think you have a serious injury, it’s important that you consult with your medical provider.
Can you continue to workout with a knee brace?
If you have an injury, it’s best to consult with your medical provider about whether or not you should continue working out with a knee brace. If you are just wearing it for support and to prevent an injury, you should be fine wearing it while you work out.
How do you know if the brace is working?
You will know the brace is working if the pain and swelling are reduced. Of course, it’s not a quick fix- it won’t happen overnight. You may have to give it more time. You may eventually notice that your knee becomes more stable when wearing the brace than when you’re not.
A knee brace for running can be beneficial if you have a previous injury or chronic knee condition. However, there are so many options on the market, it can be hard to choose the best one. The truth is, as long as it feels comfortable and it relieves some- if not all- of your pain, it’s doing what it’s supposed to. That being said, if you do have a serious condition that requires medical care, a knee brace is not an adequate substitute. Always seek medical care when necessary. If it’s just a minor issue, feel free to try a knee brace- and keep in mind you may have to try a few before you find one that works for you.
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