Best Knee Braces for Running – Comparisons & Reviews

You’ve been in heavy running mode as you gear up for the slew of spring races you’ve signed up for. But lately your knee seems to be feeling the strain of those extra miles. Will finding the best knee braces for running give you the support you need to continue running at this pace?

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WHAT CAN A KNEE BRACE DO FOR YOU?

It might be easier to start with what a knee brace can’t do. It can’t fix your injury -- you won’t be cured once you slap on the knee brace. And it can’t make up for overtraining, which is one of the most likely reasons for your knee pain.

So if you’ve been increasing your mileage too quickly, you need to scale it back a bit before you injure yourself. You don’t want to get to where you have to take weeks off from running.

In some ways, knee braces are like Band-Aids. They give you a temporary solution for your problem. That might be good enough if you just have to power through a few more workouts before race day and you plan to take a break after that.

With that quick lecture out of the way, let’s get to what a knee brace can do for you. They offer support right where you need it the most -- the muscles and joints that are experiencing pain.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A KNEE BRACE?

It isn’t easy to pick out a knee brace when there are so many choices out there. You need to consider a few factors before heading to your nearest sports store. You don’t want to grab the first knee brace you see and throw it in your cart. To find the knee brace that’s best suited for your particular needs, ask yourself these questions first.

What Type Do I Need?

If you haven’t looked for a knee brace before, you’ll be surprised and maybe a little overwhelmed by how many options there are. There are many types of knee braces, but the two types you’ll see runners use most are knee sleeves and patella braces.

  • Knee sleeves: These braces can give you compression, which should help you if you’re having swelling. Plus, sleeves should help with blood flow to those affected muscles. Knee sleeves won’t have holes in the knee area, and you’ll just pull them on, like a tight-fitting legwarmer.

  • Patella brace: Patella braces are knee braces that have a hole cut out for your knee area. You may want to see a doctor to find out if your problem requires this kind of brace. If you need this type of knee brace, you’ll want to pay attention to the right way to use it.

You need to decide if you want a knee sleeve, or if you want a knee support, knee stabilizer or hinged knee brace.

Knee stabilizers provide stronger support -- they’ll have steel springs on either side of the knee. A hinged knee brace has, as the name implies, hinges that let your knee move in a fairly normal position as it gives you a lot of support. These are usually used for more extensive knee injuries, such as people recovering from surgery or ACL tears.

If you’re just having a little soreness, you can opt for the knee sleeve to see if it helps. Or you can take a short break from running, ice the problem area off and on for a few days to try to help the injury that way. You don’t have to give up fitness entirely during this time. You can always hit the pool for a workout that won’t aggravate your knee.

If you’re having significant pain or swelling, you’ll want to consult your doctor to figure out which type of brace is best for you. No one likes to go through the time and expense of making a doctor’s appointment, especially if you aren’t sure it’s necessary. However, your knees are crucial when it comes to running so you need to protect them.

What Size of Brace Do I Need?

You’ll need to decide upon sizing, depending on which type of brace you choose. If you get a brace that offers multiple sizes, you’ll need to take measurements of your knee and possibly other areas of your leg. If you find that you are right between two sizes, you should size up.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Knee braces can vary wildly in price and now isn’t the time to get cheap. If you need a knee brace, you are going to have to pony up the money -- you don’t have many options.

If you want to keep running as much as you can while you pinpoint the cause of your injury, you’ll have to take your injury seriously. You don’t want a few dollars to stand between you and your lifelong love of running.

Best Knee Braces For Running

Winzone Knee Brace

This knee brace gives enough support to keep runners moving, even if they are in recovery from ACL or meniscus tears. It has an open patella area and can provide relief to those suffering from arthritis. If you are an all-around jock, you can also use it when playing basketball.

Pros

  • This brace provides a lot of support without feeling stiff or rigid. It’s flexible enough that runners will be able to comfortably run while wearing it.

  • It fits a wide range of knees, from 12.4” to 21.7” circumferences.

  • It cost less than many other knee braces.

  • It’s fully adjustable so you can find a great fit.

  • Made with 100 percent neoprene, which won’t feel uncomfortably hot against your skin.

  • It slips off and on quickly so you won’t waste too much of your time fiddling with your brace.

  • You can toss it in the washing machine to clean it.

  • Since the center of the knee is cut out, you’ll be able to ice that area while the brace is on.

  • It won’t slip out of place while it’s on.

Cons

  • It doesn’t hold up well to repeated long-term use for people who have chronic injuries.

  • This kind doesn’t offer as much compression as some other brands.

Vimpro Knee Brace

This compression sleeve, made out of rubber, spandex, and nylon, can give you the support you need while running or playing sports. It also helps with joint pain, tendonitis, meniscus tears, and arthritis.

Pros

  • Made with elastic yarn and 3D circular technology, this sleeve lets the air circulate for decent breathability.

  • It won’t feel heavy or bulky on your leg because of the lightweight material, which is good news for runners who don’t want to be weighed down.

  • The material won’t feel scratchy against your skin or give you a rash on hot days.

  • It is bacteria resistant, even when you’re sweating.

  • It helps limit the movement of your patella.

  • This brace offers a 100 percent guarantee which allows you to try it without any risk of losing your money on an inferior product.

  • This can fit a knee circumference of 14.5 inches to 22 inches.

  • An inexpensive option to try to make your knee pain more bearable.

  • If your pants aren’t too tight, this sleeve can fit underneath them.

Cons

  • For really thin women, this brace will be too big to offer enough compression.

  • This sleeve doesn’t come with washing instructions, which is a big problem for runners who tend to sweat a lot.

3. Venom Knee Sleeve

Venom Knee Sleeve

This knee sleeve can be used for a variety of situations and sports. You can use it for running, basketball, soccer, weightlifting, and other sports that require both support and mobility, and for ACL injuries, meniscus tears and arthritis.

Pros

  • It has a gel dual stabilizer that gives you extra cushioning to help with your pain level and guard your injury from further damage.

  • The compression this sleeve offers helps support your joint and keeps the heat in to help fight inflammation.

  • It’s elastic and lightweight so you have greater mobility than you do with rigid braces.

  • This sleeve resists bunching and slipping because it has a flexible grip. Once you put it on, it’ll stay in place -- even during long runs.

  • It comes in four different sizes to ensure you’ll find a proper fit.

  • If you’re interested in learning new recovery exercises, it comes with a PDF guide of moves you can do to speed your recovery.

  • It can be used on both your knees -- it doesn’t have to match up with left or right in order to work.

  • Any age can use this sleeve.

  • It’s easy to slide on and off.

Cons

  • It’s pricier than some of the other knee sleeves on the market.

4. 2nd Era Knee Runs 1 Knee Sleeves

2nd Era Knee Runs 1 Knee Sleeves

When you buy this product, you don’t only get one knee sleeve -- you get two. That’s a nice perk for someone who has two bum knees instead of just one.

Pros

  • The price is great considering you get two knee sleeves. That should appeal to runners who don’t have much money after they buy new shoes every few months.

  • These give you support and compression when you are running, weight lifting, or doing yoga.

  • The air circulates well throughout these sleeves, which won’t leave you feeling sticky and sweaty around your knees.

  • If you’ve just had knee surgery, these can help your recovery.

  • They come in three sizes, fitting knee circumferences from 14.5 inches to 22 inches.

  • These aren’t overly long -- their length is 10.5 inches.

Cons

  • Some people won’t like the orange accents on these sleeves.

  • If you’re doing a lot of bending with your knees, like squats, these tend to bunch up slightly behind the knees.

  • The inside fabric of the sleeve could be a little softer on your knees. It isn’t awful, but it can start to feel a bit grating after a long training run.

5. Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

The Ultra Flex sleeve can help fight inflammation and swelling, pain and stiffness. Wearing this might make the difference between you lacing up your sneakers for a run or deciding to stay on your couch all day.

Pros

  • This sleeve offers compression that is great for a wide range of weight bearing exercises and sports. It’s also good at helping with particular ailments like tendonitis.

  • It has anti-slip silicone, which will ensure your sleeve will stay on when you need it most. You won’t be limping along on a run you’ve already begun, while tugging the sleeve back up every few steps.

  • The nice fit of this sleeve is due to 3D technology and the nylon and lycra materials used to make it.

  • Fits a wide range of knee circumferences, from 14.5 inches to 22 inches.

  • This sleeve comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, which protects your moola in case you don’t like it.

Cons

  • People with allergies or sensitivities to latex or spandex may have rashes as a result of using this sleeve.

  • The durability of this sleeve isn’t the greatest -- with long-term usage, loose threads start appearing and the brace can start to feel a bit stretched out.

AND THE WINNER IS …

While the Venom Knee Sleeve is a little pricier than other options, it’s worth the extra money. It’s a versatile sleeve that offers great compression whether you’re lifting weights, doing lunges or running. It’s heavy duty enough to keep up with a full workout schedule.

The gel stabilizer is a welcome addition, and the extra cushioning and warmth it provides pushes this sleeve to the top of the list. You’ll be able to wear this sleeve without threat of it slipping down on you just as you start getting into your workout.

Shannon Serpette
 

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and avid runner. She ran her first 5k two years ago, and hasn’t stopped running since. She has completed a half marathon and recently earned her first Top 3 performance medal for her age category in a race.

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