What Knee Brace Is Right For You?
In recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in the number of individuals participating in various forms of physical activity, ranging from running and jogging to hiking and team sports like basketball and football. While this newfound enthusiasm for exercise is undoubtedly a positive trend, it has also resulted in a worrying increase in the number of knee injuries.
So, for many athletes and fitness enthusiasts, knee braces have become an essential tool for preventing and protecting against knee injuries. These braces are typically designed to provide knee support, stabilize the joint, and reduce the risk of further injury or damage. Having said that, choosing the right knee brace can be a daunting task, especially with the sheer variety of options available on the market.
Who needs a knee brace?
It must be noted that people with healthy knees and no history of injury generally do not need to wear a knee brace. Knee braces can limit knee activity, which may affect the curvature of the limbs, weaken exercise ability, and cause discomfort. That said, there can be the following circumstances where knee braces are considered beneficial:
- If you have an existing knee injury, a knee brace or knee support band can help reduce discomfort and prevent further injuries caused by excessive force.
- If you are planning on engaging in vigorous activities that may put stress on the knees, a knee brace can be used as a preventive measure.
How can you find the most suitable knee brace?
Selecting the right knee brace can be a daunting task, even though it can serve as an effective aid for knee support and joint protection. To ensure maximum benefit, one must take into account the level of support needed, the activity type, and the severity of existing knee injuries. A properly fitted knee brace should provide ample support without impeding movement, and seeking advice from a healthcare professional or certified trainer is always recommended.
Furthermore, there are various knee brace options to choose from, depending on an individual's specific needs. Let's go about taking a closer look at some of these options:
- Soft 100/Soft 300 Knee Brace: This type of long knee brace covers the entire knee joint and provides support and fixation. It can also help control minor swelling and maintain warmth. It's ideal for individuals with mild knee problems who struggle to pinpoint the exact location of their pain.
- Knee Soft 500/Knee Mid 500 Knee Brace: If you have ligament damage but need to stay active, a ligament support knee brace may be the best option for you. This type of brace limits the knee's range of motion and effectively relieves ligament pressure with the help of side support metal strips. For meniscus injuries, this knee brace protects the meniscus by distributing pressure.
- Knee Strip (or knee belt): A band-type knee brace (or knee belt) that fits around the iliac crest below the knee joint, the knee strip provides restraining force to reduce ankle involvement during exercise. While it can alleviate pain and allow for moderate rest, it doesn't provide protection for other parts of the knee joint. It's suitable for people with pain and swelling below the knee joint who frequently engage in jogging, jumping, hiking, and ball games.
- Hinged knee brace: A hinged knee brace is one that has metal or plastic hinges on either side of the knee joint. The hinges allow for controlled movement of the knee joint while providing support and stability to the joint. Hinged knee braces are often used by athletes or individuals with more severe knee injuries or instability, as they provide a higher level of support than other types of knee braces. The hinges may be adjustable or fixed, and the design of the brace can vary depending on the specific needs of the wearer.
What else should you keep in mind?
It is essential to take off your knee brace right after completing every exercise session. The reason for this is that the quadriceps, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the knee are responsible for sustaining knee stability during joint activity. Knee braces can take over some of these functions, which can lead to a lack of external stimulation over time, resulting in the deterioration of the quadriceps, tendons, and ligaments.
This, in turn, can cause dependence on the knee brace for stability, leading to instability when the brace is removed. To that end, knee braces must only be worn during exercise and taken off immediately afterward to prevent tissue deterioration around the knee. Also, remember that knee braces are not a substitute for proper training and technique, so it's important to maintain a healthy exercise routine and perform exercises correctly to reduce the risk of any kind of knee-related problems.
Keep in mind that if you do not have a knee injury, it is generally not necessary to use a knee brace. It is best to allow your tendons, ligaments, and muscles to adapt and strengthen on their own through regular exercise and activity. Rather than relying on a knee brace for protection, focus on strengthening your own muscles and avoid overly protective braces that may weaken your muscle strength.
Moreover, for minor injuries, basic knee brace models such as the Soft 100 and Soft 300 can provide adequate support and protection for the knee. Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional or certified trainer for guidance on the best course of action for your specific needs.