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The 10 Best Knee Braces for Running Support

lower half of a man running and wearing a black knee brace.

Knee pain in runners is unfortunately common, especially if you’re logging many miles or training for a marathon. From osteoarthritis in an aging body to overuse injuries or even the sudden, mysterious instability and pain, many runners found themselves icing one or both knees and looking for the added stability and compression of a knee sleeve or knee brace at some point.

Although major knee injuries and lingering chronic pain may require a trip to the orthopedist for professional care, minor running problems and instability can often be treated at home with activity modification, ice, rest, and an OTC knee brace. Knee braces and knee sleeves can support a knee that feels weak or unstable and can provide some compression to the knee joint to help control inflammation, and may even allow you to keep training with minimal modifications to your routine. They can provide support to the patella (kneecap) and the knee ligaments and maintain alignment of the knee joint, reducing stress and strain on the knee joint. This can reduce pain and protect a weakened knee from further injury while the injured tissues heal. Knee braces and knee sleeves can also provide compression, which reduces inflammation and can help disperse the forces over a larger area of the knee.

Although you should consult your doctor for chronic or severe knee pain, if you just want to grab a knee brace for temporary use or to minor niggles and knee injuries, there are plenty of readily available options. After reviewing the most popular knee braces for a range of knee injuries and conditions, we put them to the test to properly evaluate their comfort, performance, function, and effectiveness while running. We were careful to assess different styles of knee braces, focusing on knee sleeves, knee straps, and hybrid-style knee braces with straps and compression. After weighing the pros and cons of the various knee braces, we chose the best 10 knee braces for running and reviewed them below.

Best Compression Knee Sleeves

Best Overall: Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeve

pair of CAMBIVO Knee Compression Sleeves against a white background.

Made from 65% nylon, 20% latex, 15% spandex, the Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeve provides just the right balance of compression and support while still being extremely lightweight and breathable. The design of this knee sleeve elevates the basic compression sleeve design with features like special, flexible 3D knitting technology that provides consistent pressure to stabilize and support your knee while distributing forces evenly across the knee joint to disperse painfully-high loads. The Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeve is ideal for running because it stays put with anti-slip silicone strips embedded in the material. Moreover, it provides enough insulation to enhance circulation to reduce stiffness without being overly hot.

Most Comfortable: Physix Gear Compression Knee Sleeve

man running on a track wearing a knee brace with an inset image of the knee brace.

The Physix Gear Knee Support Brace is made from 67% nylon and 33% latex with an anti-slip silicone wave pattern for stay-in-place confidence. The four-way stretch fabric conforms to every contour and bump around your knee, helping give a nice, snug, supportive feel to the brace. Even if you get sweaty on a long training run, the knee brace stays up without slipping, twisting, or rolling down. It also comes in a wide range of sizes, from small to XXL.

Best for Arthritis: Jiufentian Copper Knee Brace

image of a Jiufentian Copper Knee Brace against a white background.

There is some evidence pointing to the ability of copper to increase circulation and aid healing. The Jiufentian Copper Knee Brace capitalizes on this property by embedding copper fibers in the knee sleeve knit. The knee brace is constructed from 60% copper fiber cloth, 32% nylon, and 6% spandex. It is lightweight yet provides stability to alleviate pain and disperse forces. The Jiufentian Copper Knee Brace employs sweat-wicking technology to enhance airflow and has grippy silicone strips at the top to prevent the brace from slipping while you run.

Best Medical Grade: Neenca Professional Knee Brace

six different colors of knee braces against a black and gray background.

While most knee sleeves are basic pull-on wraps with elastic, spandex, or Lycra, the Neenca Knee Compression Sleeve offers extra support and stability with integrated metal side stabilizers and a unique, patented gel pad surrounding the patella. The gel pad helps disperse pressure and align the patella, while the side stabilizers provide lateral stability. These design features make the knee Neenca Knee Compression Sleeve more robust and supportive than typical knee sleeves while also improving the ability of this brace to stay in place without falling down, bunching up, or rotating—the common complaints from wearers of most other knee sleeves. Between the highly-elastic fabric and silicone straps, the Neenca Knee Compression Sleeve provides an impressive amount of compression to the knee joint and hugs the anatomical curves of your body, while still managing to wick moisture and minimize sweating.

Best Patellar Knee Straps

Best Overall: Ipow Patella Stabilizer Strap

man dressed in cycling gear with two knee braces on holding a bicycle.

The Ipow Knee Pain Relief & Patella Stabilizer Knee Strap Brace is a simple, adjustable knee strap that comes in a dual pack, so you can support both of your knees. These knee straps seem to hug the contour of your shin right under your knee better than other knee straps, which means you can wear them while running or playing sports without worrying that they will fall down. The Ipow knee straps are constructed from breathable, soft materials, which makes them comfortable to wear when you exercise, and the straps can be adjusted to accommodate a leg circumference of 10 to 18 inches.

Best Value: Cambivo Patella Knee Strap

image of a knee brace against a white background.

Made from 60% neoprene, 30% polyester fiber, and 10% spandex, the Cambivo 2-Pack Patella Knee Straps provide just enough compression below the knee to stabilize the patella and absorb shock. It’s ideal for runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome. The material absorbs your sweat to prevent a soggy feeling and can be washed and hung dry.

Best Dual Patellar Strap: Bodyprox Dual Patellar Support Strap

image of a leg wearing a Bodyprox Dual Patellar Support Strap and an inset image of a knee brace beside the leg.

The Bodyprox Dual Patella Tendon Support Strap builds upon the simple knee strap design by offering structural support both above and below the knee. This dual system provides enhanced support for proper tracking of the quadriceps and kneecap, which many runners find to be more effective at minimizing knee pain while running. The brace is extremely lightweight and unrestrictive.

Best Hybrid Compression Knee Braces

Best for Injuries: Mueller Self-Adjusting Knee Stabilizer

pair of legs with one Mueller Self-Adjusting Knee Stabilizer over the knee.

For a bit more support, consider the Mueller Self-Adjusting Knee Stabilizer. This knee brace is crafted from a neoprene blend to provide compression and insulation to enhance circulation. The criss-cross straps allow for targeted compression and adjustability, while there’s a buttress lining the open patella design to stabilize the knee cap while allowing for a natural range of motion.

Best for Sports: Bracoo KS10 Adjustable Knee Compression Brace

person putting on a Bracoo KS10 Adjustable Knee Compression Brace.

When your knees act up when you’re running, a lightweight brace can sometimes offer the support and protection you need to alleviate your knee pain without overly restricting your stride. The Bracoo KS10 Adjustable Knee Compression Brace is designed for osteoarthritis relief when running, hiking, or playing sports. It is constructed from perforated neoprene, making it very lightweight and breathable. The perforations are intended to improve airflow and reduce sweating and itchiness while the neoprene also insulates and keeps the knee warm to increase blood circulation. The Bracoo KS10 Adjustable Knee Compression Brace uses an open patella design to help it stay in place while you’re running or playing sports, so you’re not constantly having to stop and twist it back in place or pull it up. The patella area is reinforced with a stabilizing ring, which lends compression and stability. The three-strap system on the knee brace allows for customization of the fit and disperses the loads and pressure evenly across all the ligaments and structures in the knee joint. The Bracoo KS10 Adjustable Knee Compression Brace can be worn on either knee and accommodates knees with a 12.5-18 inch circumference.

Most Comfortable: EXOUS Bodygear 4-Way Knee Brace

image of a leg wearing the EXOUS Bodygear 4-Way Knee Brace.

With an impressive four-strap design, the Exous Bodygear 4-Way Knee Brace provides superior stabilizing support and reliable traction for your knee compared to most knee braces. The four straps allow for a highly precise fit, 360-degree control, and enhanced patellar stabilization for maximal effectiveness and pain relief. Despite the more robust support and adjustment system, the knee brace still manages to be flexible and lightweight and does not restrict your stride. In fact, the Exous Bodygear 4-Way Knee Brace weighs only six ounces and has a slim profile.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Knee Brace

When buying a knee brace or knee sleeve, it’s important to ensure the knee brace you buy is intended for your injury or usage. The specific purpose of a particular knee brace dictates its design as well as its suitability for your needs. For example, if you are indeed looking for a knee brace to wear while running, be sure the knee brace you buy is designed to be worn during exercise. Otherwise, it may lack the flexibility, breathability, and support your knee needs while being physically active.

The degree to which a knee brace provides support depends on the materials used and the design. It’s important that you buy a brace that provides the support you need for your particular knee injury or issue. Some knee braces, such as knee straps, only support the patella, while others have metal hinges on both sides for lateral stability as well. Essentially, knee sleeves provide light compression, which can help provide stability and encourage the alleviation of inflammation for swollen knees. Many people with osteoarthritis, strained ligaments, partial meniscus tears, or general knee pain find that the stability and control afforded by a knee sleeve takes the edge off their knee pain and instability.

Sometimes, a simple knee strap is all you need to provide the necessary stability to your knee cap to alleviate pain, and research demonstrates that knee straps are indeed effective at treating pain brought on by patellar tendinopathy. Knee straps are especially helpful for runner’s knee, a painful condition where the kneecap (patella) tracks abnormally along the femur, causing pain, but they can also alleviate pain from jumper’s knee and patellar tendinitis. Knee straps help stabilize and properly align the patella, reducing irritation and restoring the function to the knee, according to studies.

How to Wear a Knee Brace for Running

Knee sleeves and knee braces are designed to provide support and compression, so they inherently need to be quite snug. This can make them difficult to get on and off. If you have large calf muscles or mobility impairments, it may be challenging to hoist up knee braces with a pull-up style. Wraparound knee braces are easier to get on and off, but they can be hard to properly align for some people.

Knee braces are usually adjustable via Velcro or hook and loop straps or buckles, which allows you to tailor the fit. Ensuring you have a proper fit helps prevent the knee brace from moving and improves the comfort and effectiveness of the brace. Getting a knee brace with multiple adjustment straps is particularly important if the degree of swelling in your knee fluctuates significantly from one day to the next. Knee sleeves, on the other hand, are usually not adjustable so measuring your knee accurately to get the proper sizing is important. You may also need to buy multiple sizes to accommodate different inflammation levels in your knee.

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