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Knee braces are designed to provide knee support and stability at the joint. They apply pressure or compression to the knee to help reduce pain and inflammation and support the ligaments and tendons.
Knee braces come in various styles and designs, including hinged knee braces, patella stabilizing knee braces, and compression knee sleeves.
The type of knee braces you choose will depend on your specific needs and your knee condition.
Types of Knee Braces and How They Work
Below is a look at the different types of knee braces and how they work.
Hinged Knee Braces
Hinged knee braces are orthopedic devices worn around the knee to provide support and stability to the knee joint.
They are commonly used by individuals with severe knee injuries or conditions requiring maximum support and stability. For example, anterior cruciate ligament, ligament tear or fracture, osteoarthritis, arthritis, or ligament instabilities.
Hinged braces apply pressure or compression to the knee to help reduce pain and inflammation and support the ligaments and tendons.
Typically, they have hinges on either side of the knee that allow for a range of motion while still providing support. This can help to prevent further injury and promote healing of the knee.
Unloader Knee Braces
Unloader knee braces are worn around the knee to provide support and relief to individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the cartilage in the knee joint to break down, leading to pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving the knee.
As their name suggests, unloader knee braces work by unloading pressure from the affected part of the knee, reducing pain, and improving mobility.
They are designed to shift weight and pressure away from the damaged part of the knee joint.
They have special straps and hinges that redistribute weight and pressure to other parts of the knee. This can help to reduce pain and improve mobility in the knee.
Unloader knee braces should be prescribed by a doctor or physical therapist.
They can be adjusted to fit the individual wearer’s knee size and shape. Consult with a medical professional before using an unloader knee brace
Knee Compression Sleeves
Knee compression sleeves are tight-fitting garments worn around the knee to provide support and compression to the knee joint.
They are commonly used by athletes and individuals with knee conditions, such as knee arthritis or pain.
They are often worn during physical activity to support the knee and can also be worn throughout the day for additional support and pain relief.
Knee compression sleeves are made of stretchy, breathable fabric and are designed to fit snugly around the knee.
The compression helps improve blood flow to the knee, reduces swelling, and supports the knee joint. As a result, it reduces knee pain and improves knee stability and mobility.
Compression knee sleeves can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies and sports stores. Choose the right size and fit of the sleeve to ensure that it provides the proper amount of compression and support.
Rehabilitative braces are commonly used after a knee injury or surgery to help support the joint and allow it to heal properly.
They are also sometimes used by individuals with chronic conditions that affect joint stability, such as arthritis.
They are typically made of lightweight, breathable materials, and they are designed to be worn comfortably for extended periods of time.
They may have additional features, such as padding or straps, to provide additional support and stability to the joint.
A doctor or physical therapist usually prescribes rehabilitative braces, which can be adjusted to fit the individual wearer’s joint size and shape.
Knee wraps are long, stretchy fabric bands worn around the knee to provide support and stability to the knee joint.
Weightlifters and other athletes commonly use them to help support the knee during physical activity, and they can also be used by individuals with knee conditions or injuries.
Knee wraps are typically made of elastic or stretchy fabrics, such as cotton or spandex.
They are wrapped tightly around the knee, providing support and compression to the joint. This can help to reduce knee pain, improve knee stability, and enhance athletic performance.
They are available in a range of lengths and styles. They are often worn during physical activity to provide support to the knee, and they can be adjusted to provide the desired level of compression and support.
They need to fit right to ensure that it provides the proper amount of support and compression to the knee.
Prophylactic Knee Braces
Prophylactic knee braces are worn around the knee to prevent injuries. Athletes commonly use them, particularly those who play contact sports, to reduce the risk of knee injuries, such as ligament injury, meniscus tears, or fractures.
Prophylactic knee braces are designed to provide support and stability to the knee, helping to prevent injuries and protect the knee joint.
They are typically made of strong, lightweight materials, such as plastic or metal, and are designed to fit snugly around the knee.
They may have additional features, such as padding or straps, to provide additional support and stability to the knee.
They are useful for hikers at an increased risk of knee injuries due to the uneven terrain and impact on the knees from walking and climbing.
What Do Knee Braces Help With?
Knee braces can help hikers in a number of ways. They provide support and stability to the knee joint, which can help to reduce the risk of knee injuries, such as ligament tears or fractures.
They also help to reduce knee pain and discomfort, which can be a common issue for hikers.
The support and compression provided by a knee brace can reduce swelling and inflammation in the knee, improving knee function and reducing pain.
This can help hikers to maintain their mobility and continue enjoying their hiking activities.
Knee braces are particularly helpful for hikers aged 35-50, as you may be more susceptible to knee injuries due to the natural changes that occur in the body as we age.
Most hikers in this age range may also be experiencing a decline in athletic performance.
Aside from providing support and stability to the knee joint, knee braces can help to improve athletic performance by providing support and stability to the knee.
They enable you to move more efficiently and with greater confidence, which can be beneficial during long hikes or challenging terrain.
Knee braces can be an effective tool for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts looking to prevent or manage knee pain and injuries. Most importantly, they can relieve pressure and stress on constant downhill treks.
They provide additional support to the knee joint, helping distribute weight and reduce strain on the ligaments and patellar tendon.
Knee braces can be particularly helpful for hikers with existing knee injuries or conditions or at a higher risk of developing knee problems due to the demands of their activity.
It’s important to choose the right knee brace for your needs and to use it properly, following the manufacturer’s instructions and seeking guidance from a healthcare professional if necessary.
Wearing a knee brace can help you stay active and enjoy your outdoor pursuits with greater confidence and comfort. Check out our article on the best knee braces for hiking.