So, you need a knee brace? You walk into your favorite sporting goods store or begin to browse online. You desperately want to find the appropriate knee brace for you, the one that will fit like a glove and provide just the support you need, but after a only few moments of searching you find yourself to be lost in a sea of knees. Let's demystify your search and help you to find your knee brace by answering these four questions:
What type of knee brace do I need?
Knee braces can be categorized into four types: sleeves, supports, stabilizers, and hinges. Knee sleeves are sized and can be slipped on over the knee, while knee supports are adjustable and often wrap around the knee; both provide basic support along with warmth and compression. Knee stabilizers contain steel springs on both sides of the knee for advanced support, while hinged knee braces contain hinges which allow the knee to move in a way that is close to the knee's natural motion for the most advanced support.
What style of knee brace do I want?
There are two basic styles of knee braces: slip on and wraparound. Slip on braces are slid onto the knee by placing your foot through the brace's opening and pulling up. This type of brace is sized, as the ideal fit is necessary for proper support. Wraparound knee braces can be placed either in front of or behind the knee, depending on the type, and adjusted with the brace's Velcro straps.
3) Do I want a knee brace with a closed or open patella?
Knee braces are made with a closed patella for those who want their knee cap to receive the same compression and support provided to the rest of the knee. Open patella knee braces allow for any pressure on the knee cap to be relieved, and depending on the particular knee brace, may also allow for additional support and/or proper tracking and movement of the knee cap.
What size do I need?
What size of knee brace you will require will depend on which brace you choose. Each brace will tell you what measurements are necessary for a proper fit, as some require a measurement around the knee, others three inches above/below the knee, and still others a calf and thigh measurement. Regardless, those measurements in inches or centimeters can be compared with a sizing chart for your knee brace to determine your proper size. If you find yourself to be between sizes, it is often recommended to purchase the larger of the two.
Armed with this information and standing before the wall of knee braces at your favorite store, you can be confident that you are choosing the right one for you. Still have questions? Still a bit unsure? Ask us. We'll be happy to help you to find the perfect fit.