best knee brace for running

If you are an avid runner, then you are probably already aware of the high risk you have in developing a knee injury. Unfortunately, knee injuries are the most common type of injury affecting runners. They may even seem inevitable, which in many cases is true.

However, once an injury occurs, you can at least take the necessary steps to ensure a full recovery and optimal healing process so that you lower your risk of reinjury. Also, who wants to worry about reinjury when you are focused on getting back to your running self?

So, in order to help your recovery and healing process, we have some knee brace suggestions to help ease that pain and speed-up your recovery. Always consult a doctor before treating a knee injury.

 

The Most Common Knee Injuries For Runners

1. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)/Runner’s Knee

If you are a runner, these two words are most certainly ones you want to avoid hearing; “Runner’s Knee”. This knee injury occurs when there is irritation between the kneecap as it rests on the thighbone. This is because the patella carries the stress of running, which can sometimes be up to eight times your bodyweight!

2. Iliotibial Band Inflammation/Syndrome (ITBS)

Research suggests that this injury may be just as common as Runner’s Knee and could come on top as the most common injury amongst runners. The Iliotibial Band is a thick connective tissue that stretches from the outer hip to right under the knee. The inflammation and pain is caused by the overuse and friction of the IT Band sliding over the end of the femur close to the knee. As a result, runners may then feel lateral knee pain.

3. Meniscus/Cartilage

Although meniscal tears may not appear to be as common or likely an injury in runners, it is still a knee injury that is occurring amongst the older aged athletes. Most meniscal tears amongst runners are caused by age-related degenerative wear and tear. The meniscus cartilage acts as a shock absorber and weakens with age. As the meniscus is located between the femur and tibia, the constant stress from running wears down tissue and the ability to absorb shock while running, resulting in pain. Also, those with meniscal tears are more likely to develop arthritis in later years.

4. Patellar Tendinopathy

Just like the other tendons around the knee, the patellar tendon that connects the kneecap to the lower leg bone can also wear down over time and use. Strain to the tendon will eventually cause pain at the front of the knee. Some researchers suggest that this is more likely to occur to those that run barefoot.

 

 

Treatment and Best Knee Brace for Running

Runner’s Knee

As stated earlier, many of those suffering from Runner’s Knee have weak quads and outer hip muscles. Thus, building up overall quad muscle strength can help relieve the pain, treat the injury, and regain proper alignment. Also, orthotics and knee braces can help with the alignment and structure.

Because Runner’s Knee causes pain to the patella, wearing a brace that helps stabilize and alleviate kneecap pain is ideal. For example, you could try the following braces:

1. DonJoy Tru-Pull Light Knee Support Brace

This, DonJoy Tru-Pull Light Knee Support Brace features removable plastic hinges, a gel pad around the patella, and velcro straps to hold the brace in place. All of these features allow for a supportive structure that helps alleviate patella pain and align the patella during your knee movements.

 

2. WinZone Knee Brace

Again, this WinZone Knee Brace also features the open patella wrap to stabilize and decrease pain during knee movements. However, this brace provides a bit less structure than the other two options as it lacks extra velcro straps and bilateral hinges.

3. Bracoo Knee Support Sleeve

This sleeve also consists of the stabilizer ring (the open circle around your patella) to keep your patella supported and aligned. Additionally, the thick neoprene material stimulates blood circulation.

 

Iliotibial Band Inflammation/Syndrome (ITBS)

Just like Runner’s Knee, those with ITBS typically have weakness in their outer hip muscle and quad as well. So, strengthening these areas can help relieve the pain and overcome the injury. You can also use band exercises as well as a foam roll to help relax the soft-tissue of the ITB.

To help ease the lateral knee pain and soothe your muscle and connective tissue, a knee sleeve option may be a good idea. For example, you could try the following:

 

1. Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support

This Bauerfeind Knee Support Sleeve is ideal! It runs from your mid/upper quad to just past your knee, reaching the top of your calf. Thus, this sleeve compression is concentrated in the area of your injury. Additionally, the Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support stimulates blood flow, improves muscle movements, and alleviates pain.

2. Mava Knee Support Sleeves

These Mava Knee Support Sleeves, come in pairs of two and will help stimulate blood flow while providing compression to ease the knee pain.

3. Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

The Ultra Flex Sleeve will reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as stimulate blood flow. It is also a good length, so as to compress part of your thigh, knee, and calf area in order to reduce pain.

 

Meniscus/Cartilage

Sometimes, small degenerative tears do not require surgery, however, it is important to seek medical attention to clarify which healing option is best for you. Of course, you should also restrain from any training and running until you are fully recovered from the pain and swelling, as it is possible to further tear your meniscus, resulting in worse injury.

Because the meniscus requires more care, the potential knee brace options are a bit more structured and bulky in comparison to other knee sleeves. For example, you could use any of the following, to help you during your healing and recovery process.

1. Shock Doctor 875 Ultra Knee Brace with Bilateral Hinges

This Shock Doctor 875 Knee Brace provides support, structure, and alignment. It’s longer body will make your knee feel especially secured. Also, the brace contains bilateral hinges to prevent hyperextension and further knee injuries.

2. McDavid 422 Knee Brace with Dual Disk Hinges

Just like the Shock Doctor, the McDavid Knee Brace features bilateral hinges to prevent further knee injuries. Best of all, it uses latex-free neoprene!

3. Gladiator Hinged Knee Support by BioSkin:

Again, just like the other two options, the Gladiator Hinged Knee Support, features the bilateral hinges for optimal support and security. This is especially necessary after moderate to high knee injuries, such as meniscus tears. Another great feature of this brace is that it is hypoallergenic! So, latex free.

 

Patellar Tendinopathy

Just like most cases discussed earlier, the strengthening of your quads can really relieve the pain and heal the injury. Also, rest is necessary. However, with this particular injury, it is important to note that complete restraint from running and exercise may actually make the injury worse. So, train carefully and with recovery in mind.

Since you should keep moving even while you have this injury, it is important to choose a knee brace or sleeve that will provide comfort and pain relief during your activities. Thus, I suggest one of the following.

1. Mava Knee Support Sleeves

These Mava Knee Support Sleeves come in pairs of two, which is great if you need a backup or if you have pain in both knees. The sleeves will provide pain relief with their compression.

2. Bauerfeind Knee Sleeve

The great thing about this Bauerfeind sleeve is its length. It stretches from your quad to your calf, providing compression, comfort, and coverage that you require.

3. Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

As mentioned previously, this Ultra Flex sleeve will provide compression, support, and reduce inflammation.

Symptoms of These Injuries

Runner’s Knee

Such pain may sometimes disappear while running, but emerge once you finish your run. It can be sharp and sudden or dull and chronic pain that radiates around your knee and/or under your patella. Also, you may experience some slight swelling around the patella area and observe more cracking and popping when moving your knee.

Additionally, certain situations make you more prone to this type of injury. So, it may be best to try and avoid developing these circumstances that increase your risk of patella injury. For example, a large factor in this type of injury is having weak quads that cannot properly support the patella in combination with inflexible hamstrings. This can cause the kneecap to move out of alignment, causing additional pressure on the knee. Furthermore, strengthening the outer hip muscles play a large role in avoiding such injury, and this is especially seen in female runners. Those that are knock-kneed are also more likely to develop Runner’s Knee.

Iliotibial Band Inflammation/Syndrome (ITBS)

 Just like many knee injuries, this type of syndrome occurs after overuse and with the right conditions. For instance, the pain will emerge after running for a certain distance and time, but may subside after the run. However, if you continue to run and train, the problem may progress so as to begin causing pain even during daily activities such as walking and going up and down stairs. In the case of ITBS, you will feel pain on the outside of your knee and it is typically located just above the knee joint.

Just like with Runner’s Knee, weak quads, hamstrings, and outer hip muscles contribute to the possibility of developing ITBS. Also, those with “bow legs” are at higher risk of developing this syndrome.

Meniscus/Cartilage

If you notice lots of swelling and pain around the knee, then you may have torn your meniscus. Usually, you will also feel as if your knee is locking, which is caused by a torn piece of meniscus shifting incorrectly inside the joint. In most cases, surgery is required as this type of injury can not heal on its own.

Patellar Tendinopathy

This pain is felt at the front of the knee but should be thoroughly observed, so as not to confuse it with kneecap pain. The tendon pain can be felt as if it is radiating to your leg bone, while patella pain is mainly situated around and under the kneecap. Also, with patellar tendinopathy, it is common to experience a sudden onset of pain that will prevent you from participating in your typical training routine and daily tasks.

 

Summary:

Overall, it is important to take care of your knee injuries to the best of your potential so that you can heal quicker, and get back to your activities faster. Hopefully, after reading this article you have a better understanding of your issue and what solutions are out there for your specific needs.

We wish you a quick and healthy recovery!