What is the best knee support for runners?

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Runners need knee support. 

If you’ve even dashed across the street to avoid holding up traffic or catch a bus, you’ve felt the jarring vibration of your bones when your feet hit the pavement with speed. 

Just like cars have complex shock systems to help hold them together through bumpy patches and uneven ground, your body has knees. They work in much the same way. Even if you avoid pavement, if you run frequently, your knees are going to be under more stress.

There's a reason patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is also called Runner's Knee. Runners are at high risk for PFPS, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), and patellar tendinopathy (PT). These are just a few of the injury types that runners can anticipate and hopefully prevent!

So, what are your options?

Knee braces: 

If you’ve sustained a serious knee injury, your doctor may have had you fitted for a custom knee brace. DonJoy, Ossur, BREG, and Bauerfeind are manufacturers that create knee braces tailored to fit you. These braces are a great option for people recovering from injury or even surgery, and can certainly help reduce pain and aid stability.

These expensive braces come with their own challenges and complications. Even though they have been designed to fit your knees, they still might slide down, which is an irritating and distracting problem at best. Knee braces are also heavy and affect your balance, which makes them not the optimal choice for running.

Compression sleeves 

Knee compression sleeves are another popular option. They are quite affordable and widely available at nearly every pharmacy, and are much lighter than a custom knee brace. Compression sleeves have been proven to provide stability and balance to their users, which also aids your proprioception, or body’s sense of itself. When your proprioception is functioning at its best, you are much less likely to make a small step out of alignment that comes with a long journey of pain. 

Like knee braces, you may notice that compression knee sleeves roll or slide down your leg during activity. They provide much less support than a knee brace, but are also much lighter and won’t throw off your balance. And yet, many people still aren’t fully satisfied with the performance of their compression knee sleeves.

Kinesiology tape

Recently, athletes have taken to using kinesiology tape (KT), the kind used by doctors and physical therapists to rehabilitate injuries. Kinesiology taping is one of the most medical-grade options, but that also means by nature that it takes skill and to use, unlike other knee support options.

KT works in a way that is fundamentally opposite to compression garments. It’s intended to lift tissues and allow for more space and natural movement. Yet, sometimes people use KT with their compression sleeves for added support and muscle recovery.

The main thing to keep in mind with KT is that what gets put on must get taken off. You know how ripping off a bandaid feels? Now make that bandaid huge and much stronger. Yikes!

Compression pants 

Compression pants (also called compression tights) are another good option because they won’t keep sliding down your knee like compression sleeves or knee braces. They provide uniform lower body compression that increases stability, circulation, and proprioception. However, if you opt for a compression pant, you lose the targeted compression on the area hurting you the most.

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What is the best knee support for runners?

Compression sleeves, athletic compression pants, kinesiology tape, and knee braces are all great options for runners' strained knees. But are any of them the best option? Nope.

Hypothetically, the best knee support for runners would combine all the benefits of these pieces of gear, but none of the drawbacks. It would provide all-over compression for improved circulation, stability, and balance, but targeted compression for the knees too. It would have an extra neoprene layer around the knees and hips for maximum support. Maybe it would even be built from an anti-bacterial fabric to keep you feeling fresh after running (and sweating) long distances.

The good news: what I just described – the best knee support for runners – already exists.

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Shop the full Bracelayer® collection now!

Bracelayer® compression pants provide the best knee support for running. They’re constructed on our one-of-a-kind anti-bacterial Stabiluxe™ fabric and contain a Tri-Tech support layer around the knees and hips. Bracelayer’s pants have designs with heating and cooling technology. Our Alpine pants have a fleece lining to keep you and your joints warm in the winter and our KS1 Vent pants are made from Stabiluxe™ cooling fabric with ventilation panels behind the knees. 

But don’t just take our word for it! See what runners who have made Bracelayer their go to knee support have to say.

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