Running with Knee Brace
If you’ve noticed an increase in runners wearing a knee brace while running, you are not alone. What exactly is a knee brace and what is its purpose? Knee braces are used for knee support with different types of knee braces for different functions. In this article, we cover the 3 most common types of knee braces available in the market and the purpose they serve.
1. Running with Knee Sleeves
Knee sleeves are recommended for patients who have generalized pain and swelling. Wearing knee sleeves during sporting activities can help to reduce discomfort. Compression knee sleeves help to reduce general swelling by applying compression to the knee.
2. Running with Patella tendon strap
Patella tendon straps help to apply compression and reduce pain to the patella tendon for those with localised kneecap pain. This support is commonly used for athletes doing knee-dominant sports such as volleyball, high jumpers, track athletes, etc.
3. Running with Hinged knee braces
Hinged knee braces are used post-operatively to limit the range of motion for the knee. These braces are usually prescribed by surgeons and not recommended for everyday use. By limiting the range of motion in the knee, hinged knee braces help to prevent disruption of tissue healing after surgery.
Should I use a knee brace when running?
Wearing a knee brace while running can decrease knee swelling during or after a run. Knee braces can also help relieve point tenderness in the knee. Braces also help to increase the sense of knee control while running. Here is the breakdown of what the evidence says about how it works:
Soft knee supports can reduce the incidence of knee pain when doing physical activity, especially for recruits undergoing basic military training. Braces are suggested to have an effect in altering the sense of knee joint movement and quadriceps muscle recruitment, which aids in modifying your symptoms and reducing knee pain. With the change in such senses, this has been proposed to reduce knee injuries (Tiggelen et al., 2004).
For patients with osteoarthritis, soft knee braces have been shown to improve confidence in moving the knee joint. The mild compression provided by the soft brace increases the sense of joint stability, improves confidence, and helps to reduce the intensity of pain during daily activities (Cudejko et al., 2017).
Patellofemoral braces have been shown to help decrease pain for people with pain in the front of the knee. Patellofemoral straps have been proposed to work through manual support, changing the line of pull on the patella, and hence decreasing pain. With the reduction in pain, improvements will be seen in the knee’s range of movement. Dynamic tasks like walking efficiency will also be increased (Arazpour et al., 2013).
When should you see a Physiotherapist, and what can Physiotherapy do?
The aim of physiotherapy for knee pain is both short-term pain relief as well as long-term care. Bracing will help with short-term pain relief, however, complete resolution and long-term care of the injury would require an understanding of the core issue and a tailored rehabilitation program.
Generally, the classification of running type injuries falls under these 3 categories: compression, instability, and/or overload. Braces may help to reduce pain, but if your knee symptoms persist even while wearing a brace, we recommend seeing a physiotherapist for a thorough assessment to understand the root cause of your knee pain.
Physiotherapists will be able to get to the bottom of why you sustained the running injury in the first place, and then tailor a treatment program for you. Everyone’s rehabilitation journey is different; some will get better within a week, others might take a few weeks.