When you have pain in your knee due to injury from sports or chronic conditions like arthritis, it can be hard to go on with everyday life without support. A knee brace is often recommended by doctors to alleviate the pain and to protect the knee from further injury, especially if you are recovering from surgery, when the knee is the most fragile.
Knee braces come in different styles, designs, and sizes, and are made of different combinations of metal, plastic, foam, or elastic material. Some also come with Velcro straps while others are slip-on types.
A good knee brace will limit your movements so that you don’t push your knee too far, which helps reduce the pain and help you heal faster. But in order for the knee brace to do its job, you have to wear it right.
How to Choose the Right Knee Brace
There are various types of knee brace:
1. Rehabilitative braces – these are often used by athletes in the weeks following an injury or surgery. This allows movement but still limits your range of motion to promote faster recovery.
2. Functional braces – these are braces worn after a major injury has healed to provide support and prevent another injury.
3. Unloader braces – these are the type that relieve pain for people who suffer from arthritis in the knees. They lift the weight and pressure off of the affected knee so it doesn’t hurt as much.
4. Knee sleeves – these provide support and compression on the knee in order to control pain or swelling. They are recommended for daily use to people who suffer from arthritis or tendonitis.
Consult your doctor to figure out which type of knee support will benefit your specific condition the most.
How to Put On the Knee Brace and How to Wear a Knee Brace Comfortably
The knee brace should be worn correctly so that it can do its job. Here is how you put on a knee brace:
- If the brace you own is slip-on style, pull it up over your leg. It’s best to do this when you are not wearing any pants. Slide your foot into the wider side of the brace and out through the other side. Keep pulling it up until it rests on the injured knee and fits comfortably.
- If you are using a wraparound knee brace, simply put the padding on top of the affected knee and wrap the straps around, making sure it fits perfectly.
- If you have an open-patella knee brace (the ones with the hole in the center), make sure that the hole rests on top of the point of your kneecap. This is how you know that you are wearing it correctly since this gives the most comfortable wear and keeps the skin ventilated. The hole should not be pinching or scratching your skin.
- To check if your knee brace is too tight, try to insert one or two fingers into the space between the skin and the brace. If you can’t do this, it means the brace is too tight and needs some allowance. Remember, it should fit snugly, not too tightly.
Wearing a knee brace doesn’t mean you should sacrifice comfort. Here are a few ways to wear it comfortably:
- Wear it under your clothes – the brace should fit well and shouldn’t interfere with your regular clothing. You can wear it to school under a uniform or your usual work pants, as long as it’s loose-fitting.
- Wear it under sweatpants and shorts – the best clothing to go with a knee brace are sweatpants and shorts. Shorts make it even easier, since you can get the knee brace on and off without anything getting in the way. Wearing shorts will also keep your legs ventilated and more comfortable.
- Take the brace off every now and then – you don’t have to wear your knee brace 24/7. Be sure to take it off every now and then so your knee is relieved of pressure and your skin is able to breathe. Remember to be careful with your injured knee when you’re not wearing your brace.
How to Protect Yourself From Another Injury
- Always follow your doctor’s orders – if your doctor says that you need to wear your brace for a certain amount of hours during the day, you should do so. Your doctor knows what is best for faster recovery.
- Wearing a knee brace doesn’t mean you’re free to use your injured knee as if it’s uninjured. Don’t put too much weight on your injured knee and always be careful when walking. Do not try to run or play sports when you know you’re still healing, unless under your doctor’s supervision.
- Restrict movement – keep your knee relaxed. Your legs should be kept straight, relaxed, and elevated for the most part of the recovery period. Any unnecessary movement may slow down your recovery or lead to further injury.