Tips for Choosing the Best Knee Brace for Working Out - Brace Direct

Tips for Choosing the Best Knee Brace for Working Out

If you're searching for a knee brace for your workouts, you know how many factors can affect your decision while picking the perfect one. 

Every person is different, so finding the right brace for your body type and activity level is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Instead, it's helpful to do careful research to help you determine the best knee brace for working out. Here are some tips to help you find the right fit.

Importance of Stability 

Most people take their joints for granted when they're in good working condition. They know that they are the flexible points of the skeleton where bones meet. Without them, humans would be stiff and lack the necessary fluid movements for walking and crouching. A more complex series of actions like dancing would be impossible without joints.

It's no wonder joint care is crucial to overall wellness, and the knees are some of the most important ones. That's why ensuring your knees are stable is essential in supporting your health, especially if you're putting them under strain, such as while working out. 

Taking the time to build strength in the muscles surrounding the knee can greatly reduce the risk of injury, but it's essential to do so carefully. 

Joints that aren't adequately stabilized will potentially fail, and overuse or too much stress can weaken them. This potential weakening makes working out the ideal time to use a brace that will help keep the knee joint properly aligned.

How Does a Knee Brace Help?

A brace or compression sleeve can be a beneficial tool in reducing pain and the risk of injury. They stabilize the knee to keep it in the correct position while doing daily activities or working out. 

They can also help improve circulation and take some pressure off the joint while doing high-impact exercises.

Choosing The Right Brace

woman adjusting knee brace at gym for workout

Choosing the right brace is critical to getting the desired results. Whether you are looking for increased blood flow or higher confidence in your workouts, choosing the wrong brace could lead to injury or discomfort.

If you feel unsure, talk to a professional. They can help guide you through the steps of selecting the equipment that will suit your needs. 

It can be helpful to start by getting a general idea of why you need a brace. In doing so, a doctor can help you narrow down the issues you might be dealing with and the best way to start treating them. Here are some of the reasons you might need a brace:

There are plenty of reasons to invest in a knee brace. But it’s imperative if you intend to continue a high-impact workout routine that is hard on the joints. 

Whether for recovery or prevention, here are some great tips for finding the best knee brace for workouts:


Braces come in all sorts of styles to accommodate any number of body types and support needs. Generally, however, they provide one of four functions:

  • Functional
  • Rehabilitation
  • Prophylactic
  • Unloader

Functional Braces

A functional brace is a type you might get following an injury or surgery. Most of the time, you will need a doctor’s recommendation to get one of these. It's not uncommon for athletes to get one if they plan on returning to their sport or exercise after recovery.

Rehabilitative Braces

A rehabilitative brace is similar to a functional one in that you wear it after surgery or an injury. However, this one typically gets applied immediately. It tends to be more rigid and will limit the range of motion. This stability allows for healing.

Prophylactic Braces

The best way to prevent an injury is to pay attention to how you feel throughout your workout. If you notice that one of your knees is a bit shaky or sore after breaking a sweat, getting a prophylactic knee brace could save you a trip to the doctor.

Prophylactic braces are generally over the counter, and you can find them online and in most drugstores. These are some of the best knee braces for working out.

Unloader Braces

A workout might look different, depending on who you are. Sometimes, a workout can be as simple as going for a walk. In any case, unloader knee braces can help take some of the weight off the knee. The knee becomes less irritated and can help restore significant mobility.

Brace Style

knee brace on man being adjusted

Not all knees are created equal, which means not all braces will look or function the same. To get an idea of what each brace does, it's useful to get familiar with the different styles you can choose from. There are several different types, but here are the most common:

  • Knee sleeve
  • Wrap
  • Hinged

Knee Sleeve

A knee sleeve is a flexible, lightweight brace and generally has no straps or fancy gadgets. It looks as described, just a sleeve that slides over the knee. These are great options for improving circulation and preventing swelling. 


A wrap brace is a little different. With a wrap brace, you pull the brace over the knee and wrap the straps all the way around the leg to give additional knee support. Often, these are also flexible and lightweight, making them a good option for working out.


A hinged knee brace is a slightly more bulky and rigid style. Although a rigid style isn't ideal for workouts, plenty of brands have constructed hinged knee braces specifically for flexibility in the gym. 

This flexibility means they are relatively easy to get on and off and made with breathable materials. It usually consists of a strong metal or plastic hinge and a flexible sleeve or strap to keep it in place. 


Comfort will also play a vital role in which brace you select. If you want to use it while you are exercising, it’s essential that you can use it for the duration of your workout.

A comfortable knee brace should fit well without cutting off circulation. It's also a problem if it isn't snug enough to stay on your leg without needing to be adjusted. Remember, it is supposed to be supporting your knee, so if it's falling down, it isn't doing its job. Brace Direct offers an anti-slip strap to help keep knee braces in place so it can do its job.

The material should also be lightweight, flexible, and moisture-wicking. Nylon, polyester, and bamboo fabrics are excellent for this purpose. 

For obvious reasons, a bulky or heavy knee brace could be an issue while working out. The material also needs to be flexible enough to give you a wide range of movement. If the fabric is too stiff or won't stay dry, there is a high risk of chafing.


Another critical part of a quality knee brace is its durability. You will likely use your knee brace for at least a few weeks while working out, so it needs to tolerate regular use. You should also feel comfortable with a reasonable range of motion.

Necessary Support 

Ultimately, the most important factor when deciding which knee brace is right for you will be how much support your knee requires, especially during workouts. 

Investing in good support is an excellent long-term decision when the knee is vulnerable. It's essential, however, to talk to a professional so they can help you understand exactly what your support needs are.

Workout Style

Your workout style will have a lot of influence on what kind of brace you need. Some workouts will be high-impact, like running, or last for an extended period of time. In these cases, you might need something more rigid. 

On the other hand, if your workout requires repetitive knee movement and you tend to get swelling, a compression sleeve might be useful. Compression is also often helpful with degenerative diseases like arthritis.


Your final decision will also likely come down to what the problem is. In this case, you will need to discuss with a professional the most logical choice for your issue.

Benefits of Using a Knee Brace

close up of knee brace on woman's leg

There are some clear-cut benefits to using a knee brace, and some are absolutely necessary. But using a knee brace might also have some benefits that surprise you.

Reduced Risk of Injury

The most clear-cut benefit of wearing a knee brace is the reduced risk of injury to your joints. In some cases, if you have already experienced an injury or are suffering from a disease that makes the knee joint vulnerable, this could be the primary or only reason for using one.

Improved Mobility

Knee pain can slow you down, and in some cases, it can even be debilitating. Investing in a high-quality knee brace can expand your range and keep you moving. 

It can also help to improve your life by giving you more effective workouts. Getting proper exercise is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Overall, working out will keep you young and mobile.

Faster Recovery

Life is busy, and having to step away to deal with things like injuries can be a true hassle. Giving up workouts can be even more detrimental, as it will also affect other areas of your life. Using the proper equipment to protect your joints will give you a speedier recovery.

More Confidence 

The knees are such an integral part of leg movement that losing their mobility can be devastating. With a proper knee brace, you can regain the confidence to move without worry and live life on your terms.

Ignoring Knee Issues

When dealing with a knee injury that disrupts important wellness routines like your workout, it can be tempting to rest and hope it will go away. In some cases, this may be all that is necessary. 

But ignoring the issues can lead to a lot of problems down the line. Not only will your knee fail to get any better, but other body parts could also start to be affected.

A healthy, normal gait is essential for proper alignment and balance. Always contact a professional if you have concerns about your joints.

Even if you find out that your knee injury is nothing serious and can be solved with some rest, a knee brace can help protect you from injury in the future. They can also help relieve pain.

Getting The Most Out of Your Knee Brace 

woman stretching outdoors with knee brace

A knee brace is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment, but there are a few things you can do to help you get the most out of the experience.

Do Your Physical Therapy 

There will be a little point to using a knee brace if you don't do any of the physical therapy assigned to you by your doctor. It should be considered a critical part of your workout; without it, your knee is unlikely to improve. Knee braces are excellent tools, but they aren't a fix-all. 

It's also important not to skip physical therapy and jump straight back into your regular workout. Even with a knee brace, this is extremely risky, and you might re-injure the joint.

Rest and Elevate

When you are not using your brace, it's wise to take it easy. This practice will be especially true if you are in recovery. Rest and elevate the knee wherever possible and apply ice or heat as needed.

Take Care of Your Brace

Look it over daily for damage. Pay attention to any tears in the fabric or squeaking from the hinge. Keeping it in shape will help it last longer.

If you do notice your braces damaged, it might be worth investing in a new one or checking with a doctor to see if it is still usable.

Don't Be Afraid To Try a New One

You are your own greatest advocate, which means you must speak up if you feel as if your brace isn't effective. If you are using it during your workouts, there are a few different signs that could point to a problem with your brace:

  1. If it is slipping and falling, you could have the wrong size. Or you could be wrapping it incorrectly.
  2. If you are experiencing any numbness or tingling around or below the knee, remove the brace and consider a larger size.
  3. If the brace fails to relieve any pain or makes your pain worse, discontinue use and talk to a professional.

If you don't feel like your first brace is doing the trick, don't worry because there are others you can try. It could be that the first one simply wasn't a good fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

man holding knee with knee brace

If you still have questions about how to pick the best knee brace for working out, you're not alone. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about using knee braces.

Will it make my knee weak?

Some people are worried that using a supportive tool like a brace can weaken the knee. But this isn't the case. Increasing mobility is a critical part of improving the strength of the knee.

How do I find out if I need one?

If you do not suffer a severe injury, the first sign that you might need a knee brace is usually some stiffness, soreness, or pain. You may also experience a clicking in the knee or generally feel unstable. A visit to a doctor can help you figure out the next step.

Should I wear it under or over my clothes?

Most braces function best if they are worn directly on the leg. This practice allows them to provide the most support and get the best fit. 

Lightweight knee braces like sleeves are usually easy enough to hide underneath clothing. If you feel the need to wear your brace over your clothing because it is uncomfortable, that brace may not be a good fit for you.

Final Thoughts: The Best Knee Braces for Working Out

Choosing the best knee brace for working out can be a complicated process, but it isn't impossible to figure out. By narrowing down the best selection based on your needs and preferences, you should be able to hit the gym in no time and get to work improving your strength and mobility. 

Pay close attention to how you feel following each session and take note of how your knee tolerates the workout.

Knee pain shouldn't get in the way of your workout routine. With improved medical care and technology, equipment like knee braces can help keep you on your feet.