The 11 Best Knee Braces for Every Activity

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Working out with knee pain can be a real, well, pain. Beyond the literal hurt, aching joints can make it tough to stay active or hold you back from performing at your greatest potential. Luckily, knee braces do wonders in minimizing discomfort supporting your endurance while you move. Sometimes called a knee sleeve or knee strap, the over-the-counter variety helps protect weakened muscles while allowing for a full range of motion.

Most use compressive technology, which, according to certified personal trainer Dianna Falzarano, increases the amount of oxygen and blood flow sent to the area by adding gentle pressure. Knee straps can also support injury recovery and alleviate some symptoms of arthritis.

Scroll down to check out the best knee braces for everyone and every activity.

Our Top Picks
This breathable, moisture-wicking compression sleeve provides support and patella alignment to take the edge off aches and pains.
The triple-strap contouring and compressive design of this affordable brace provide comfortable support.
This breathable and ergonomic compression sleeve features patella gel pads and metal spring stabilizers for added support.
The open-patella brace is designed to help with injury recovery while the compressive technology may help reduce swelling.
This knee brace boasts flexible stabilizers to alleviate pressure while gel patella pads help encourage range of motion.
The hinges on this compressive knee brace offer bilateral support to help you move comfortably.
Designed with sports therapy in mind, this brace boasts stabilizing pressure that minimizes stiffness without sacrificing comfort.
Made of stretchy, compressive fabric, these sleeves may help alleviate joint pain and discomfort.
Patella gel pads offer support and compression while flexible spring stabilizers protect joints and encourage natural alignment.
This sleeve boasts anti-migration technology designed to stabilize joints and provides relief for stiffness and swelling.

Best Overall: Shock Doctor Knee Compression Sleeve

Shock Doctor Knee Compression Sleeve
What We Like
  • Compressive design

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like
  • May stretch out

You can count on Shock Doctor for over-the-counter relief from various knee ailments. Made of vented neoprene with lycra bindings and a grippy silicone lining, the brand's Knee Compression Sleeve is breathable, moisture-wicking, and comfortable with a secure fit.

It also comes in sizes small through extra-large and can be adjusted to accommodate the unique curve and width of your leg. The compression provides gentle support while promoting patella alignment and taking the edge off minor aches and pains.

Material: Lycra, neoprene, silicone | Fit: Size S–XL

Best Budget: Equate Adjustable Knee Brace

Equate Adjustable Knee Brace
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Three-strap contouring

  • Compressive design

What We Don't Like
  • Fit is not universal

For those on a budget, we recommend Equate's Adjustable Knee Brace. Boasting triple-strap contouring and a compressive design, you can count on comfortable support and protection for aching, weakened muscles.

Material: Polyester, latex | Fit: Adjustable

Best Compression: Neenca Professional Knee Brace

Neenca Professional Knee Brace
What We Like
  • Compressive design

  • Patella gel pads

  • Multiple color options

What We Don't Like
  • Runs small

The ergonomic Neenca Professional Brace uses a blend of nylon and spandex to deliver breathable, moisture-wicking compression to the knee. This medical-grade sleeve also has comfy patella gel pads and metal spring stabilizers for added support.

Material: Nylon, spandex, silicone, metal | Fit: Size S–XXXL

Best for Injuries: Doufurt Knee Brace Stabilizer

Doufurt Knee Brace Stabilizer
What We Like
  • Moisture-wicking

  • Side stabilizers

  • Compressive design

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to rolling down

If you're recovering from an injury, the open-patella Doufurt Knee Brace might aid your recovery. With compressive technology and support from all sides, it is designed to help drive blood flow to the area to reduce swelling and accelerate the healing process.

Material: Neoprene, spandex, metal | Fit: Size S–XL, adjustable

Best with Stabilizers: Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers

Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers
What We Like
  • Side stabilizers

  • Patella gel pads

  • Breathable

What We Don't Like
  • Only two sizes available

Made of a nylon-spandex fabric with an adjustable velcro strap, the Bodyprox Knee Brace is comfortably compressive, breathable, and absorbent. Flexible stabilizers on each side alleviate pressure and minimize stress at the kneecap, while gel pads around the patella encourage a full range of motion.

Material: SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber), nylon, spandex | Fit: Regular or XL size, adjustable

Best Hinged: Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Guard Hinged Compression Knee Brace

Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Guard Hinged Compression Knee Brace
What We Like
  • Bilateral hinges

  • Anatomical contouring

  • Compressive design

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively expensive

Looking for a hinged design? Your best bet is the Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Guard. Hinges on either side offer bilateral support, while the compressive fabric and anatomical contouring help you move comfortably.

Material: Spandex, neoprene, aluminum | Fit: Size S–XXXL

Best for Sports: Cambivo Knee Brace Compression Sleeve 2 Pack

 Cambivo Knee Brace Compression Sleeve 2 Pack
What We Like
  • Compressive design

  • Good for athletes

  • Pack of two

What We Don't Like
  • Not adjustable

Attention, athletes! The Cambivo Knee Brace was designed with sports therapy in mind. Whether you're a runner, hiker, cyclist, ballplayer, or HIIT enthusiast, the stabilizing pressure will minimize stiffness without sacrificing comfort.

Material: Nylon, latex, spandex, silicone | Fit: Size S–XXL

Best for Arthritis: Modvel Compression Knee Sleeves 2 Pack

Modvel Compression Knee Sleeves 2 Pack
What We Like
  • Ergonomic

  • Compressive design

  • Pack of two

What We Don't Like
  • Runs small

For folks with arthritis, we suggest Modvel Knee Sleeves. You'll get a pack of two ergonomic braces, each made of stretchy, compressive fabric to alleviate pain and discomfort in the joints while providing the support you need to stay active.

Material: Spandex, nylon, latex | Fit: Size S–XL

Best with Patella Gel Pads: TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve

TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve
What We Like
  • Patella gel pads

  • Compressive design

  • Spring stabilizers

What We Don't Like
  • Not adjustable

The TechWare Pro Knee is designed with a circular patella gel pad to offer support and gentle compression where you need it most. This knee brace also has two flexible spring stabilizers to protect the joints and encourage natural alignment.

Material: Nylon, spandex, latex | Fit: Size S–XXL

Best Stabilizing: DonJoy Performance Anaform Shin Splint Sleeve

DonJoy Anaform Shin Splint Sleeve
What We Like
  • Compressive design

  • Stabilizes joints

  • Anti-migration technology

What We Don't Like
  • Not adjustable

If it's stability you crave, go with the DonJoy Anaform. While this knee sleeve isn't adjustable, it boasts anti-migration technology to stabilize your joints and provide relief from sore, stiff, or swollen ligaments.

Material: Neoprene, lycra | Fit: Size S–XL

Best for Recovery: Physix Gear Knee Compression Sleeve Support Brace

Physix Gear Knee Compression Sleeve Support Brace
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Compressive design

  • Can be used on knee or elbow

What We Don't Like
  • Not adjustable

Made from an innovative blend of lycra and nylon, the Gear Knee offers comfortable, compressive four-way stretch. If you're recovering from a sports injury, a sprain, or an overuse injury, the gentle, even pressure from this support sleeve might help you feel better sooner than later.

Material: Nylon, latex, silicone | Fit: Size S–XXL

Final Verdict

The best knee brace overall is the Shock Doctor Compression Sleeve, which is made of vented neoprene with a silicone lining and lycra bindings. It's breathable, sweat-wicking, supportive, and comfortable with an adjustable fit. However, if you're on a budget, go with the Equate Adjustable Knee Brace. It offers comfy support and compressive protection to alleviate aches and pains without breaking the bank.

Meet the Expert

Dianna Falzarano is a certified personal trainer, as well as the founder and owner of Dynamic Fitness LLC. She earned her personal training certification through the National Council of Strength and Fitness (NCSF).

What to Look For in a Knee Brace

Material

Most knee braces on the market today are made of either neoprene or a thickly woven synthetic fabric containing a blend of nylon, latex, spandex, or lycra.

To ensure they stay in place, knee sleeves often have grippy silicone or SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) linings. Additionally, some have metal stabilizers or hinges for added support.

Fit

One of the most important considerations when buying a knee brace is how it fits. They typically come in multiple sizes, ranging from small to extra-large (and sometimes larger).

A brace is supposed to be compressive, but take note of models that run small, as you don't want to constrict the area. Also, many knee sleeves are adjustable to help ensure a customized fit.

Open vs. closed patella

Knee braces will either have an open patella (with an opening over the knee cap) or a closed patella (fully covered over the knee cap). An open patella will offer a little more breathability while taking some pressure off the front of the knee. A closed patella is generally better for circulation and heat retention, though both styles offer these benefits to a certain degree.

Patella gel pad

Some knee braces have a patella gel pad, a special cushioning on or around the kneecap. This feature helps protect the front of the knee while allowing it to move with ease and minimizing stress on the joints.

FAQ
  • What does a knee brace do?

    In the context of sports therapy, the main purpose of a knee brace is to provide compression around the joint to encourage blood flow to the area, minimize swelling, and reduce knee pain. Falzarano tells Byrdie that compressive technology may also "help your muscles function better, increase your athletic performance and reduce muscle fatigue."

  • How do you put on a knee brace?

    The proper way to put on a knee brace depends on the design. With a standard compression sleeve, you'll slip your foot into the hole and then pull it over your bare leg up to your knee. If you're using a wrap-style brace, you'll place the back of your knee against the inner middle, then wrap it around and secure the straps.

  • How long should you wear a knee brace?

    How long to wear a knee brace depends on what you're using it for—injury recovery, arthritis relief, exercise support, etc. A knee sleeve is typically worn for at least a week and may or may not be taken off at night for sleeping. Having said that, follow the instructions provided by your orthopedist or physical therapist if you're using one for medical reasons.

Why Trust Byrdie

Theresa Holland is an experienced freelance writer with a background in health and fitness. For this roundup, she spoke with a personal trainer and researched the various purposes and key features of knee braces. She considered the materials, fit, style, and price of dozens of products and pored over user reviews before making her final selections. Theresa is a regular contributor at Byrdie, where she covers exercise equipment, workout apparel, and cosmetics.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any knee braces from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Wang L. Study of properties of medical compression fabricsJFBI. 2011;4(1):15-22. doi: 10.3993/jfbi04201102

  2. Cudejko T, Esch M van der, Leeden M van der, et al. The immediate effect of a soft knee brace on pain, activity limitations, self-reported knee instability, and self-reported knee confidence in patients with knee osteoarthritisArthritis Research & Therapy. 2017;19. doi: 10.1186/s13075-017-1456-0

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