Updated on 2017-05-01 – A lot of people think that knee braces are only for people who have injuries. Although this is often true, a lot of athletes use knee braces, or some other sort of knee support, during competitions or even just regular exercise if they feel that their knee(s) are unstable or even if they feel a small amount of pain. Keep reading if you would like to know what the best knee brace for running is.
This post will concentrate on the different knee supports that you can use while running, which just happens to be my favorite pastime these days. Unfortunately, at some point most runners will experience some form of knee pain during their running career, or possibly even an injury. If you are reading this post, chances are you love running as much as I do, or maybe you just believe in its benefits.
To avoid having to stop running because the pain gets too unbearable, or to avoid future injury, it’s important that you find the proper knee support that will let you keep going. To do that, you need to understand where pain from running comes from.
Knee Pain From Running
Knee pain from running is extremely common, considering the amount of impact you put on your knees with every step you make. Normally the pain is caused by the following:
- Mechanics – Are you flat footed (no arch)? Are you over-pronated (foot rolls inward) or over-supinated (foot rolls outward)? If so, you may need custom fitted running shoes or at least custom-fitted arch supports.
- You are using the wrong equipment – It may be time to change those smelly old sneakers in for a brand new pair. The rule of thumb is to change them every 400 miles or so of wear and tear, whether you are running or simply walking. Also, I highly recommend that you get fitted by a professional. You will pay more for it up front, but the benefits on your body are immeasurable.
- You are not doing it right – You may be doing too much too soon or you are increasing your intensity and distance too quickly and your knees can’t keep up. Here’s a great article you can read on how to ease into running if you are first starting out: http://www.reddit.com/r/running/wiki/faq
- Frequent change of terrain – If you change the terrain you run on too often, it can take a toll on your knees. Consider easing into a new terrain slowly. For example if you switch from street to rugged terrain, consider running a shorter distance the first few times out.
Have a look at the following video for some tips on how to avoid knee pain when running:
Best Knee Braces for Running
There are so many options when it comes to knee sleeves and knee braces, that it’s hard to hard to figure out which one to get. Below are a few options if you are looking for knee supports that are great for runners:
1. Knee bands / Patellar Stabilizing Braces
If you have pain just below the kneecap (in the patellar tendon), you might be able to relieve most of the pain with a simple knee band (also known as patellar stabilizing brace). The purpose of the band is to relieve the stress on the tendon, which should reduce some of the pain. These bands have been known to relieve pain from Osgood Schlatter’s disease, Runner’s Knee and tendinitis as well. Example:
2. Knee Sleeves
Knee sleeves are usually made of neoprene and are designed to retain heat and provide compression. For runners, it is recommended to get one that has a hole where the kneecap is located, because this helps keep the patella in one place while you run. The rest of the sleeve holds your knee and surrounding tissues in place, which should prevent further injury or deterioration. An example is the Bauerfeind Genutrain P3 Knee Sleeve which is rated by many runners as being their preferred choice:
3. Hinged Braces
These braces tend to be a bit bulkier than knee sleeves, but they offer more protection and support because they are more rigid. Runners may use these braces if they feel that their knees are unstable and still wish to perform longer runs or if they plan on running on more ruggedized terrain. Keep in mind that the range of motion can be different depending on the manufacturer and model of these types of braces. Example:
Only you, with the help of a certified professional, can determine which one is best for your you. You should always consult a doctor to determine the best knee brace solution to support your particular situation. Have you had any experience wearing knee bands or braces while running? If you have, we’d love to hear about it!
Updated on 2017-05-01 – Added a video which provides tips on how to avoid knee pain while running.