Knee Braces for Running
It is estimated that when running, around four times an individual’s body weight is passed through the knee joint with each and every step. It is therefore no surprise that knee pain is a frequent complaint amongst runners.
Most knee injuries from running are overuse injuries, meaning they develop gradually due to repetitive stresses on the joint and surrounding soft tissues. These may include Runner’s knee (IT band syndrome) and Patella pain syndrome. Overuse injuries such as these do not compromise the stability of the joint and so high level knee supports are not necessary. A simple, neoprene sleeve may be effective to provide heat retention and compression to the joint, to encourage the blood flow and maintain soft tissue flexibility whilst providing mild support for the joint.
In some cases, specialist knee braces, supports and straps are available. For example in cases of IT band syndrome, an IT band strap can be worn above the knee to apply pressure to the IT band on the outer knee, reducing the strain and encouraging blood flow. Similarly for jumpers knee (patella tendinopathy), a patella tendon strap may be worn.
Patella mal-tracking is a big issue in runners, typified by an aching pain at the front of the knee, especially when running downhill or after a run. The important feature of a knee support for this condition is the patella support. This may be in the form of a circular buttress (area of foam padding) surrounding the knee cap which will help to stabilise it. In more advanced models, a buttress and a strap to pull the patella medially work to prevent excess lateral movement.
More acute injuries such as ligament and cartilage tears only really occur through falls or twists of the joint. For those who have suffered an acute knee injury and who want to return to running, more support may be required to reduce lateral and twisting movements at the joint which strain healing structures. Whilst a stabilised support will do this, it is important to consider your comfort whilst exercising. A lightweight stabilised support which does not restrict knee flexion or extension, such as the LP709a or LP X-Tremus would be ideal. Anything more bulky such as a hinged knee brace may not be suitable for running due to the weight and restrictions on full motion. If you really need something this heavy duty for running, then chances are you are probably not ready to return to running just yet!