Best Knee Braces of 2018
How to Choose a Knee Brace
A standout amongst the most well-known issues in this day and age is torment related to the knees. Sports players and geriatric individuals are among the most likely to encounter these issues. Hereditary entanglements or lifestyle issues can prompt uneasiness or pain in the knee. Knee wounds can be caused due to a tendon tear or inflammation of the kneecap, otherwise called Chondromalacia, crack, sprain or damage to the ligaments. Other causes could include immune system illnesses, for example, Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Classified into three levels, grade 1-3, a knee sprain often-times restricts people to bed. It can restrict movement and basic processes such as sitting, walking or going to the bathroom. Knee Injury causes extreme pain and discomfort and it is extremely difficult to get rid of the pain that is shown to increase over time, if not taken proper care of. Lifestyle problems can often be reduced by a change in habit such as exercise. The other reasons for knee pain need meticulous care and can take a huge amount of time.
The most widely used solution to knee pain is the use of knee braces. Made out of a combination of elastics, plastics and sometimes metals, knee braces can be used, both due to injury during sports or pain due to other physical problems such as arthritis. They come in various sizes and colors. Knee braces can also be used as protection while playing games such as football. Such type of braces is known as prophylactic braces. A knee brace is supposed to unload the excessive stress that falls on the knee during strenuous exercise and excessive use of the knee joint, including excessive pressure. This is a very effective way of inducing proper healing and reduced pain.
Knee braces are supposed to be recommended by doctors who are well equipped to diagnose the problem area and suggest the perfect kind of knee brace. However, with the ever developing market as well as technology, a lot of confusion exists, and in some cases we may have to choose one on our own. Each knee sleeve comes with its own set of specifications and uses, making it difficult to decide the perfect one. A knee sleeve should fit correctly, be flexible, elastic, provide support, limit the knee movement and allow an easier, pain-free life.
The following details provide a well-researched insight into the world of the most popular knee braces that are commercially available and what makes them stand out. The products have been compared, without missing the faintest of details. The aim is to provide a comparative insight on the different braces and how they contribute to a pain-free and healed knee. Knee Braces are available online and it’s extremely important to check the specifications before making a purchase.
Size and Ease of Application:
Each individual has a different size knee, in terms of length and thickness, hence, different brands have come up with kneecaps in various sizes. Knee braces range from small to extra-large, depending upon the person suffering from such an injury. The proper fitting of a knee sleeve is extremely important as any discomfort would lead to further deterioration of the condition. Most people use knee sleeves on a daily basis (which includes everyday work such a sitting for hours, driving, walking, etc.) to ease them from the discomfort it is associated with, hence the most important criteria that are observed for picking a particular brace is the size and how easily it can be worn.
While Neo G Knee Brace caters to a single, universal size that can be used by all, UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve sticks to the most common sizes- Small, Medium and Large. A much more diverse size range is provided by Mueller Sports Knee Brace and McDavid Knee Brace, varying from small to extra-large. (Size chart mentioned along with the products on any online store)
Most kneecaps come with flexible straps for customized wearing (except Uflex). These products are user-friendly and don’t need any additional help in terms of fitting. The straps can be X strapping as in case of McDavid Knee Brace or straight, as seen in Mueller Sports Knee Brace and Neo G Knee Brace.
The straps are extremely important for the sleeve to stay in its own place and hold on to the skin in the right position. Both types of straps provide support differently and hence, must be chosen accurately. The trick here is to see which brace provides maximum support and fits perfectly without crushing the muscles or falling off.
UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve, on the contrary, works on a slip through the mechanism. This is the easiest to handle as one can slip it through and it can be worn under other clothes such as jeans and pants, making it a highly workable option.
People in a wheelchair with a knee pain need a comfortable sleeve and UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve is a healthy alternative, due to its simple and sleek design and flexibility. As mentioned, it is easy to wear and easy to maintain.
The material utilized as a part of the making of a knee brace is critical to the individual using it, as it may cause sensitivities and rashes. Particularly if a man is inclined to a latex hypersensitivity. Latex sensitivity can be considerably more than just rashes and if untreated, can be deadly. A great many people are encouraged to undergo a blood test keeping in mind the end goal to decide if they are susceptible to latex or spandex. This will help to choose the correct brace, a comfortable one.
Most knee braces, however, are composed of latex/spandex as they have elastic properties and hence can align the knee brace to the movements of the knee, without compromising the comfortability. However, the composition is extremely important, which determines the overall flexibility and effectiveness.
Mueller Sports Knee Brace contains Rubber latex, which is the most common material that provides flexibility as well as a strong support to the muscles of the knee. This can cause an allergic reaction, excessive sweating and falling off of the brace, but is highly helpful in case of moderate knee injuries.
UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve uses a blend of Nylon and Lycra, which makes the brace lightweight and flexible. Lycra is also known for its durability and elasticity. This material is a variation of natural rubber, hence preventing all the complications associated with using natural rubber as a brace material. Lycra is being used by a lot of brands as it is user-friendly and highly elastic.
McDavid Knee Brace and Neo G Knee Brace, however, use a latex-free technology, also known as neoprene which provides superior stretch, higher insulation as well as a lightweight product. Neoprene is wear and tear resistant and is not very hard (hence not putting unnecessary pressure on the knee muscles and bones). It also has a shelf life of about 5 to 10 years and is water and sunlight resistant. All these properties make it a perfect fabric for knee braces.
Another feature common to all the above products is the use of anti-slip silicone for stable compression during all forms of physical exercise. UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve claims to use this technology and the reviews provided by the users form a solid backbone to the popularity and usefulness of the anti-slip silicone.
Hinges are another supporting component for proper pliability. Hinges are metal pieces attached to the sides of the brace, which provides limited movement of the knee and is extremely helpful when the knee movement should be restricted due to injury. They are made of a lighter metal, thus reducing the bulkiness on the brace. The better the hinge, the lesser the movement and the faster the healing. Hinged braces are extremely suitable for people suffering from mild to moderate ligament and meniscus injuries, as well as osteoarthritis. Hinges provide maximum knee support, and they can be hard or soft, depending on the need and situation. The number of hinges in a brace can differ depending on the purpose.
McDavid Knee Brace is equipped with a polycentric hinge which helps in free movement. Mueller Sports Knee Brace, on the other hand, comes with a triaxial hinge which helps in the stimulation of the knee joint, the rest of the brace providing additional support to the knee. Each type of hinge helps in a particular type of movement and the wrong kind can be extremely harmful to the patient.
Mueller Sports Knee Brace also claims to have an antimicrobial technology that protects the brace and doesn’t affect the person. This prevents the product deterioration due to the excessive bacterial growth. It also prevents bad odor due to the bacteria as well as accumulation of dirt during the usage.
Few knee braces are washable, such as Mueller Sports Knee Brace, but it is advised to remove the hinges before washing the product. Washing helps get rid of excessive grime and dirt that leads to bacterial growth which can cause infection and diseases. Sometimes, it reduces the shelf life of the brace, therefore, proper care must be taken during washing it and the instructions must be read carefully.
Bunching or accumulation of the sleeve on the back of the knee is an important problem associated with this type of product. All braces claim to not produce bunching, however, there are times when the person finds himself is such a situation, which can only be attributed to secondary factors such as size and bulk. An improper fit can cause a lot of problems. Anti-slip silicone also prevents bunching up to a certain extent, as it holds the brace to its correct position around the knee.
A person must be compatible with all of the above materials to prevent an allergic reaction. Certain materials also cause excessive sweating, causing the knee brace to fall off, and hence doing more harm than good. This, however, differs from person to person. The correct size may be purchased in order to prevent this kind of issue.
Weight of the product:
A heavy knee brace restricts the movements of the individual, along with putting an additional weight to the already injured knee. It’s extremely uncomfortable, and hence people tend to avoid such braces. Thus, one should choose a brace that is made of a material that is lightweight, yet durable and has the permitted amount of flexibility.
The bulkiest of all the above-mentioned braces is the McDavid Knee Brace, followed by Mueller Sports Knee Brace, Neo G Knee Brace, and UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve, respectively. The weight reduced the amount of time a person can wear it continuously and contributes greatly towards increasing the pain.
A lot of knee braces come with a time of usage, i.e. the amount of time it can be worn, at a stretch. This is usually 2-3 hours. The patient is supposed to discontinue wearing such braces for a long time.
Customers have been seen to prefer a lighter Knee Brace, one of the reasons, why more people prefer the UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve when given a choice. McDavid Knee Brace is also popular, but mostly among people who are heavy and tall, and hence need a stronger knee to support their weight.
Support and extent of support:
For a knee sleeve to reduce pain and help in healing, it should effectively support the knee muscles and joints. While most knee braces promise maximum support and flexibility at the same time, it is seen to vary from person to person. This depends on various factors such as the duration of use, the purpose of use, height, and weight of an individual etc. One should be extremely careful while choosing the right fit. Different types of polymers are often used to increase the overall support provided to the ligaments, patellar surface etc.
Mueller Sports Knee Brace and McDavid Knee Brace provide level 3 i.e. maximum protection by controlling sublaxating Patella and pain associated with irritated Kneecap. These are supposed to be the most excruciating ones and require restricted knee movement. The knee braces take off the pressure from the knee, causing it to heal without additional strain.
UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve provides protection against minor knee injuries such as swelling and sprains. They can be used as everyday wear and worn for long hours.
Neo G Knee Brace claims to provide overall protection from all types of knee injuries such as meniscus tear, fractures, and dislocations. It is a recognized Class I medical device which has the lowest risk level among other medical devices and uses medical grade materials for the production of their products, hence making it safe for use, when compared to other braces.
Reviews have shown that UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve have been preferred by people with knee condition due to disease or minor injuries. A number of hikers and runners have found UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve to be extremely comfortable and helpful. On the other hand, athletes have preferred Neo G Knee Brace over other brands to be more flexible, easy to wear, and maximum support brace.
The brace should be put on correctly and as per the instruction given in the manual, to minimize discomfort and increase the good effects the brace.
However, any brace shouldn’t be worn for a long amount of time. It can cause excessive discomfort and reduce the healing process. One should leave gaps and allow the knee to breathe and rest in between.
Varieties and amount of protection:
Since knee pain arises due to various reasons, most brands have developed multiple versions for the same product, which is mainly based on their area of focus around the knee and the type of injury for which it should be used.
Mueller Sports has Knee braces that are different for kneecap injury, sprains and arthritis, each designed slightly different than the rest and each provided comfort to a specified area around the knee, which is usually associated with the respective condition. Each variety differs in the type and number of hinges and straps. A few are fitted with steel springs with support the knee, alongside allowing flexion and extension.
McDavid Knee Brace provides us with a range of products that are based on the level of protection it provides. The level ranges from 1-3+, where 1 is for minor pain and sprains and 3+ is for major joint instabilities. This helps effective customization for different individuals.
Neo G Knee Brace and UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve have a single design which claims to cater to a specific set of needs. Neo G Knee Brace serves occupational uses whereas UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve helps in reducing sports-related injury, making them restrictive and thus reducing audience. UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve is mostly worn by people in order to avoid an injury during games.
Pricing and preference:
Cost is a critical factor, in light of the fact that the vast majority can’t bear the cost of costly medicinal devices, subsequently depending on the more affordable ones to do the trick. As much as system and material are essential for an item, it ought to likewise be moderate with the goal that it can be made accessible to the regular masses. A knee brace that is prudent and plays out all the fundamental capacities is exceedingly favored over the over the ones which are costly and confused.
The cheapest among all in the UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve, another reason why it has the most number of customers (alongside other reasons). This is followed by Neo G Knee Brace.
Neo G Knee Brace and Mueller Sports Knee Brace are priced along the same range, even though Neo G Knee Brace lacks hinges.
The most expensive one being McDavid Knee Brace, it is still preferred by a lot of people, mainly because of its specifications. It uses superior and better technology and provides protection against a lot of knee injury and associated pain.
Among all the products, the UFlex athletics knee compression sleeve is the most preferred knee brace among the rest. This is mainly attributed to lower pricing and the flexibility of the material which maintains itself for a long period of time. It is also easy to wear and can be easily worn under the regular clothing. The anti-slip silicone provides uniform compression which prevents bunching and any movement of the sleeve.
Neo G Knee Brace, which uses neoprene, is compatible with almost everyone making it a universal wear. A unisex knee brace, Neo G Knee Brace is known to provide a very comfortable fit. However, due to the absence of hinges, the flexibility increases, which is not convenient for people who need extremely restricted knee movement.
Mueller Sports Knee Brace and McDavid Knee Brace provides almost equal support and has similar properties. Mueller Sports Knee Brace uses a latex-free technology and it comes in various sizes. It can be a bit bulky but it provides maximum support to the knee.
McDavid Knee Brace uses superior technology such as polycentric hinges and cross strapping, which can be the reason for its higher price. It also has various types of knee braces providing mild to excessive protection and thus, concentrating on different types of pain associated with a knee injury. In terms of comfort and flexibility, it is considered a good one, however, certain people find it extremely bulky and difficult to find the right fit.
Overall, the correct choice of a Knee brace depends on the level of injury and the person who is supposed to use the sleeve. Other contributing factors such as the material, elasticity, and flexibility must be kept in mind while purchasing the Brace. The size of the knee should be kept in mind because the correct fit is the most efficient in reducing the pain. It is a profoundly individual ordeal and everything relies on settling on the correct decision.