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Working out, while full of health benefits, can wear down joints—especially knees. Knee-strengthening exercises can sometimes help, but wearing the best knee brace will offer more immediate support and pain relief from a variety of issues.
A knee brace should help with any issues you’re having—not make you feel uncomfortable. “The point of a knee brace is to make exercise and activity more comfortable,” Lynch says. “Someone should consider wearing a knee brace when they cannot do their normal activity because of an increase or new onset of pain, minor instability, or slight swelling.”
But it’s important to keep this in mind, per Lynch: “If you have a major injury, you should opt to see a physician or physical therapist before trying a knee brace.”
And not all knee braces are the same.“There are two types of braces—off-the-shelf knee braces and custom braces,” explains Andrew D. Lynch, P.T., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Off-the-shelf knee braces provide external stabilization to the knee. Some braces also provide compression, which can help with swelling.” Custom braces can help with things like osteoarthritis or recuperating after knee surgery, but you need to work with an expert to get them fitted to your knee, he explains.
Meet the experts: Andrew D. Lynch, P.T., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Melvyn Harrington, M.D., professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine; Clint Soppe, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and an orthopedic consultant for the LA Galaxy.
Our top picks
Interested in trying a knee brace? Ahead, find the best options available.
Knee Compression Sleeve
The Shock Doctor Knee Compression Sleeve is designed to help lend just enough support for most people with knee troubles, but not so much that you’ll feel like you can’t use your knee. Made of stretchy neoprene (i.e. wetsuit material), it’s soft to the touch and won’t dig into the skin. A strategically-placed vent helps keep you from getting overly sweaty while you exercise or walk in hot weather. You have the option to either have a closed patella or open patella (i.e. covering over your knee)—it’s up to you.
What the Reviews Say: “LOVE THIS! I have horrible knee issues. Bought one for my left knee, worked like a charm,” shared a fan. “Hubby got jealous. Bought one for his left knee and another for my right knee. These are great at keeping things in place and maintaining great pressure.”
Sometimes you need help for both knees. The Modvel Knee Braces come in a two-pack, so you can get support on both sides and match in the process—perfect for those with arthritis in both knees. These braces feature a 3D knit fabric that moves with you and have anti-slip silicone gel waves to keep them from rolling around as you go about your day. Choose from a range of colors.
What the Reviews Say: One satisfied shopper shared: “Lightweight, extremely comfortable, and gave me confident support during some heavy yard work. Forgot I even had them on.”
Knee Compression Sleeve
Knee braces can be bulky, and that can make it tricky to wear pants or really anything over top. The Powerlix compression sleeve is surprisingly thin but still provides an impressive level of support. The brace is crafted from a mix of nylon and spandex for a soft feel.
What the Reviews Say: One customer said the Powerlix has the “best fit options.” They added, “The brace stays in place on the lower thigh area; This is where others have failed before.”
Compression-style knee braces work great for many, but some prefer adjustable straps for an extra-snug fit. The Doufurt Knee Brace features straps that crisscross below your kneecap and secure at the back for a tight fit. It also has built-in metal supports for extra stabilization. A mesh design helps with breathability.
What the Reviews Say: “It really works,” said a fan. “I think the side metal strips is the key factor as I had support at the side of the knee where I needed it.”
Hinged Knee Brace
The Futuro knee brace is a good option when you want a little extra support. It has dual pivoting lateral stabilizers to keep your knee in position. Large straps allow for a customized fit, while the wraparound style makes it easy to get on and off.
What the Reviews Say: One fan called this the “best brace ever,” adding that it “keeps your knees safe and lets you do all daily activities.”
Knee Support Sleeve
Techware’s compression sleeve features a gel ring around the patella for added support and comfort. Metal side stabilizers help keep things in place. Despite the thing material, users swear this offers impressive support.
What the Reviews Say: “The gel ring at the knee cap really helps with stability. I was surprised how good it is considering the price,” said a fan.
Need another level of support? The McDavid Knee Brace has side stays and compression, along with criss-cross straps to help give you a tailored fit. The neoprene material feels comfortable against your skin.
What the Reviews Say: “Really like how it fits and does not loosen up after continuous use, or during a long workout session,” said a happy customer.
Professional Knee Brace
The Neenca knee brace is an Amazon bestseller, with over 56,000 ratings and nearly five stars. Fans rave about its comfort and slim fit, along with the padding around the patella. A brace down the side helps with additional stability. Choose from a wide range of color options.
What the Reviews Say: Consider this testimonial: “It stabilized my knee during a recent bout of knee pain and made it possible for me to walk and climb stairs. I wore it for three to four days during waking hours and it provided enough stability to resolve my knee pain issue.”
The Bodyprox knee brace has a compression style, but also offers side stabilizer and gel pads around the patella for maximum support and comfort. It also features adjustable straps and costs under $20.
What the Reviews Say: “I did a 15-mile mountain hike two weeks ago with grade elevation changes of over 2000 feet across that distance. The next day I couldn’t walk,” shared a user. “I decided to give this a try. Within 15 minutes, the pain in my knee backed off and I felt sturdy and very little pain.”
Knee Support Brace
You can’t put a price on comfort, but everyone has a budget. The Physix support brace costs just $15 and provides plenty of compression for gentle stability. The brace also features anti-slip grips to help keep it in place. Choose from beige and black shades.
What the Reviews Say: “This fits just right and doesn’t fall down. I put it on and immediately felt a difference when I started walking. I am going on vacation in two days and this will really help me get around,” shared a shopper.
Deluxe Hinged Knee Brace
It’s not the cheapest knee brace on the market, but the DonJoy Deluxe Hinged Knee Brace offers a lot of options for support. Bilateral hinges help keep everything in place, while a compression band tamps down on swelling. Straps provide custom adjustability.
What the Reviews Say: “This is exactly the same knee brace that I got from my orthopedic doctor and I was billed over $800 for,” a fan said. “The brace is lightweight, thin enough to fit under my jeans or yoga pants, yet it does the job of keeping my kneecap stable.”
2-Pack Knee Brace
For cases when you just want a little extra support during your workout, consider the Cambivo knee braces. These compression sleeves are made from a nylon-spandex blend to help add light stability. Anti-slip silicone grips keep them from sliding down.
What the Reviews Say: Shared one happy user: “I’m on a workout program that has me training my legs and glutes two times a week. I never used knee pads for my lifting previously but these have made such a difference. I no longer experience knee/joint pain when wearing them. I can put them over my gym leggings and they’re not too tight either.”
GenuTrain Knee Brace
This compression brace is soft and highly flexible while providing just the right amount of support. It features a pad around the kneecap to help keep it in place and reduce swelling, along with “meniscus wings” to keep your joints comfortable. Side bracing helps add stability. Plus, it’s machine washable for easy cleaning.
What the Reviews Say: "I use this support for my knee that had two surgeries, ACL and general scope," shared a user. "After playing pickleball for two hours each session, when using this support, I have way less knee discomfort. This allows me to ice less and not be too sore in my bad knee the next day."
Hinged Knee Brace
The ACE hinged brace provides an impressive level of support with brackets down the side to keep everything in place. Enjoy straps at the top and bottom for a customized fit, along with an open style to keep you from overheating.
What the Reviews Say: “Material feels great and my knee stopped screaming for the first time in three days,” said a happy customer.
How to choose the best knee brace
To choose the best knee brace for you, consider the following:
Support. Knee braces can be more compression-focused and made from just fabric, or they can have metal supports for added stability. “If your knee is swollen, a neoprene sleeve that fits snugly around your knee can be very helpful. The compression provided by these types of braces can help you feel more confident in your knee as well,” Lynch says. “If you feel like you need more stability, there are braces with metal supports on the sides that may also make you feel more confident and stable.”
Materials. Comfort matters with a knee brace—you’ll want to feel okay wearing it after all, Clint Soppe, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in LA and an orthopedic consultant for the LA Galaxy, points out. He generally recommends choosing a brace made from neoprene or cloth, but says it’s more about what feels good to you.
Size. A knee brace should fit snugly but shouldn’t be so tight that it feels like it’s cutting off your circulation, Soppe says. Some also have straps to help customize your fit. The right one for you ultimately depends on what feels good.
Do knee braces really work?
It depends on why you’re using a knee brace. It’s worth considering wearing one if you’re having minor issues in the area, says Dr. Soppe. “They can help with pain or feelings of instability,” he says. “Sometimes people wear functional braces after surgery to decrease pain and swelling.” Ultimately, though, “braces provide additional stability to support your muscles and knee joint,” says Melvyn Harrington, M.D., professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
How we chose the best knee braces
To choose the best knee braces, we consulted Andrew D. Lynch, P.T., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Melvyn Harrington, M.D., professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine; Clint Soppe, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and an orthopedic consultant for the LA Galaxy. We used their input on what makes a quality knee brace, plus the factors to look for in these important support systems. From there, we looked at the most popular braces on the market and narrowed the field based on elements like quality fabrics, comfort, and fit. We also factored in reviews from real customers to get a feel for how these braces perform for a range of people.
Why trust us
Prevention has been a leader in health and empowerment information for readers for 70 years. Our goal is to help support you in your journey to have the physical, mental, and emotional health you desire. We select high quality products that support that mission.
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