Types Of Knee Supports & Braces

types of knee supports

Knee supports come in a range of different types. Choosing the right one for you can be challenging. Here we explain the different types and what they are most suitable for.

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Elastic compression sleeve

Simple elastic knee supports offer the lowest level of support. They are often simple elastic compression sleeves. Although the support level is lowest they are ideal immediately after a joint injury where cold therapy and compression are the priority.

As they are made of elastic compression material as opposed to neoprene they do not retain as much heat but have excellent compression. Ultimate Performance also has a range of more technical knee supports made from elastic.

Neoprene knee supports

These are similar to elastic knee supports (above) but made of neoprene. Neoprene is thicker than elastic so gives slightly more support.

It is also excellent for retaining body heat, which aids healing after the initial acute phase, especially for tendon-related injuries.

Stabilised knee supports

These offer a higher level of support with additional straps or springs at the sides. They offer excellent support to the joint, without being as restrictive as a full-hinged brace.

They are ideal for mild knee ligament injuries, or for returning back to training following a knee injury. As they do not have any solid or exposed metal inserts they are suitable for contact sports such as football.

Hinged knee braces

Hinged knee braces offer the highest level of support. They have solid metal supports down the sides which are hinged at the knee joint to allow movement. Whilst they give the greatest support, they are a little more restrictive than stabilised knee supports or simple elastic/neoprene knee sleeves.

They are recommended following more severe knee ligament injuries, especially to help prevent sideways or lateral movement of the knee.

Wrap around vs specific size knee supports

Whether to go for wrap-around knee support or a sized one is often down to personal preference. With good wrap-around support, you can adjust the level of compression to suit.

This might be useful if you have significant swelling which is likely to go down. If you want maximum support and you know your size then a size-specific brace might be the one for you.

Patella tendon straps

These specialist supports are designed specifically to help treat patella tendon injuries such as Jumper’s knee (also known as Patella tendonitis/tendinopathy) and Osgood Schlatter disease.

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They apply compression to the patella tendon which changes how the forces transmit through the tendon, therefore reducing the strain on the injured part. Higher-quality patella tendon straps have plenty of padding around the back of the strap making them more comfortable.

Iliotibial band strap

These apply pressure above the knee, across the iliotibial band at the side. They work in the same way as a patella tendon strap, applying pressure to the tendon, and reducing the strain.

Patella tracking knee braces

These are designed to aid the natural tracking of the patella (kneecap). This occurs if you develop a quadriceps muscle imbalance. The patella moves out of its natural groove. As a result, it rubs on the bone underneath causing pain, swelling and inflammation.

The patella tracking brace is padded at the sides of the patella so when pulled tight they help exert a lateral (sideways) force to encourage the patella to drift back into its correct position.

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