The 10 Best Knee Support Products of 2021

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Best Knee Support Products

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Knee pain can be frustrating for anyone, but particularly for those who love being active. Walking, running, hiking, and weightlifting are just a few of the many activities that knee pain can interrupt or limit. Luckily, knee braces, knee sleeves, and knee straps can help in the short term by alleviating some of the pain you experience regularly, making your day-to-day more manageable while you build lasting strength and endurance through a physical therapy program.

The particular knee support product you choose, though, will depend on what kind of knee pain you’re dealing with, why you’re dealing with that pain, and what kind of activities you’re trying to do while wearing the brace, sleeve, or strap.

Wearing a knee brace alone won't solve your knee pain or instability in the long term. "Knee bracing is not recommended for the long ​term to promote optimal knee stability," said Sherif Elnaggar, PT, DPT, OCS​, a board-certified ​orthopedic ​clinical ​​​​​​specialist. "Our knee joint is full of joint proprioceptors. (Proprioception is the ability of your body to understand where it is in space.​)​ If we are constantly wearing a brace, we take away our knees' natural ability to utilize their own proprioceptive feedback​.​" If you're suffering from knee pain or instability, it's crucial that you see your doctor to discuss other methods to strengthen and heal your knee that go beyond knee support products.

Here are the best knee support products for every type of athlete.

Our Top Picks
Ideal for daily use, it's designed for athletes and active individuals dealing with ligament instabilities or meniscus injuries.
Low-profile and breathable, it offers compression while its adjustability ensures it won't slip down as you run, hike, or bike.
Affordable without skimping on features, from stash pockets to reflectivity, its adjustable pull tabs promise a tailored fit.
If you prefer the discreetness of sleeves, this pick offers all-over compression without any bulk or slipping.
Designed to deliver firm compression for pain relief, it absorbs moisture effectively, keeping your leg sweat- and odor-free.
Subtle enough to be worn under clothing, its side stabilizers provide lateral support without limiting your range of motion.
With hinges supporting your knee on either side, the brace offers maximum stability and support for higher-impact activities.
Best for Hot and Cold Therapy:
Vive Knee Ice Pack Wrap at Amazon
A wearable ice pack and a compression sleeve in one, its removable gel packs allow for both hot and cold therapy.
Offering maximum support for runners and designed to wick moisture, its open-kneecap design promises non-restricting compression.
Specifically made for weightlifters, it offers support and stability during your reps without sacrificing range of motion.
In This Article

Best Overall: DonJoy Deluxe Hinged Knee Brace

Pros
  • Safe for daily use

  • Suitable for a wide range of knee issues

  • Balances support and comfort

Cons
  • Bulkier than other options

This knee brace offers moderate support, making it a good fit for daily use, as well as more intense activities. Designed for athletes and active individuals dealing with ligament instabilities, meniscus injuries, sprains, or osteoarthritis, the brace delivers compression to the soft tissue of the knee, offering both comfort and support. Meanwhile, the hinges on either side of the brace provide even more stability.

Shoppers can choose from two different styles—a tighter-fitting wraparound option and a more discreet sleeve. Available in both neoprene and Drytex materials, the brace is even suitable for use in water. It's available in a range of sizes—from extra-small to 3XL—and you can find a detailed size chart and fit guide on the DonJoy website that'll help you select the best brace for you.

Type: Brace | Closure: Velcro | Compression: Yes | Special Features: None

Best Strap: Abco Tech Patella Knee Strap

Pros
  • Fully adjustable strap

  • Light and soft on the skin

  • Easy to clean

Cons
  • Single size doesn't fit all users

This knee strap from Abco Tech is crafted from a blend of neoprene and nylon, which leaves it feeling light and soft on your skin. The fully adjustable strap fits as tightly or as loosely as you need—simply use the Velcro straps to fasten it over your patellar tendon (just below your kneecap) to achieve your ideal level of support and compression.

Since you’re in control of the tightness of the strap, you don’t have to worry about it slipping down your leg as you run, hike, bike, or do any of your other favorite activities, making it a perfect pick for active individuals. The breathable strap also absorbs sweat, keeping your knee dry and free of irritation and itching. Plus, it's machine-washable so it won't be a pain to clean after workouts.

The strap is one size fits all and comes in four colors.

Type: Knee strap | Closure: Velcro | Compression: Yes | Special Features: None

Best Brace: DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace

Pros
  • Stays in place as you move

  • Comfortable and breathable

  • Suitable for a wide variety of knee issues

Cons
  • Bulkier than other options

This performance product boasts a number of thoughtful features, like stash pockets for storing your keys and reflective details that enhance your visibility in low-light conditions (making it a great option for running at night). The brace itself is crafted from a breathable neoprene material, and its adjustable pull tabs make it easy to achieve your perfect fit. Even better? It comes equipped with “anti-migration technology,” which promises to keep it in place as you move.

According to DonJoy, the Bionic Knee Brace is well-suited for people with mild or moderate ligament sprains, mild or moderate tendon strains, hyperextension, or meniscus injuries. It also offers patella support and stability.

Type: Brace | Closure: Wrap-around, velcro | Compression: Yes | Special Features: Stash pocket, reflectivity

Best Sleeve: UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve
Pros
  • Sleek, low-profile design

  • Comfortable, breathable fabric

  • Heating effect promotes muscular recovery

Cons
  • Less supportive than brace options

Sleek, affordable, and decidedly discreet, the UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve offers all-over compression without any bulk. It's crafted from a breathable, quick-dry fabric, making it a good pick for sweaty situations. And no need to worry about slippage—the sleeve boats “silicone grip gel” panels, which keep it firmly in place no matter what you’re doing.

According to UFlex Athletics, the Knee Compression Sleeve can reduce soreness, stiffness, and inflammation, and it’s suitable for use during just about any activity, from low-impact exercises like yoga to high-impact sports like skiing and running. It even has heating capabilities to aid in post-workout muscular recovery.

Type: Sleeve | Closure: Slip-on | Compression: Yes | Special Features: Heating effect

Best Compression: PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve

Pros
  • Comfortable support during both activity and recovery

  • Lasting compression power

  • Soft and breathable

Cons
  • Loses elasticity quicker than other options

The PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve is designed to deliver firm compression for an extended period of time, which the manufacturer says can provide pain relief from a variety of ailments, including arthritis, swelling, tendonitis, meniscus tear, soreness, stiffness, ACL, PCL, MCL, and other knee pain. 

Crafted from a soft, breathable fabric, the sleeve absorbs moisture effectively, keeping your leg sweat- and odor-free for extended periods of time. It comes equipped with silicone gel support strips that hold the sleeve in place during physical activity. According to PowerLix, it's good for daily use, for recovery between workouts, and for most sports. It comes in a range of sizes and in three different colors.

Type: Sleeve | Closure: Slip-on | Compression: Yes | Special Features: None

Best Discreet: ACE Compression Side Stabilizer Knee Brace

Pros
  • Low-profile design for casual wear

  • Contours well to the knee

  • Supportive without limiting range of motion

Cons
  • Slips down the leg over time

  • Too short for taller individuals

Sleek, tight, and budget-friendly, the ACE Compression Side Stabilizer Knee Brace is an excellent pick for those who want support that can be worn easily and comfortably under clothing. The brace’s low-profile design promises to contour to your knee, offering you a tight fit and the all-over compression you need in a sleeve.

Ideal for stiff, weak, sore, or injured knees, the sleeve comes equipped with a behind-the-knee comfort panel, which keeps it from bunching up or falling down. And the side stabilizers running along both sides of the brace provide lateral support without limiting your range of motion. The sleeve comes in a range of sizes, from small to extra-large.

Type: Brace | Closure: Slip-on | Compression: Yes | Special Features: Side stabilizers

Best Heavy-Duty: Shock Doctor Hinged Knee Brace

Shock Doctor Maximum Support Hinged Knee Brace
Pros
  • Top-notch stability and comfort

  • Supportive without inhibiting range of motion

  • Surprisingly breathable for a bigger brace

Cons
  • Bulkier than other options

This knee brace offers maximum stability and support for higher-impact activities. Its pre-curved design is crafted with the contours of your knee in mind, delivering comfort and compression in equal measure. The hinges on either side of the brace offer additional support while its stretchy textile lets you move around with ease.

Even though the brace is thick and padded, it’s vented for breathability, allowing you to cut down on nuisances like odor, bacteria, and moisture. According to Shock Doctor, it's designed to help with medial and lateral instability, minor patella instability, meniscus injuries, minor ligament sprains, hypertension, and arthritis.

Type: Brace | Closure: Velcro, slip-on | Compression: Yes | Special Features: Bilateral dual hinges, antimicrobial technology

Best for Hot and Cold Therapy: Vive Knee Ice Pack Wrap

Pros
  • Machine washable fabric sleeve

  • Multiple uses

  • Stays comfortably in place

Cons
  • Gel packs don't stay cold for very long

Designed to alleviate knee pain and swelling, Vive’s Knee Ice Wrap is essentially a wearable ice pack and a compression sleeve in a single product. The brace comes with three removable and reusable gel packs you can use for both hot and cold therapy. Each pack conveniently slips into one of the brace’s pockets, allowing you to target pain points as they arise.

You can use the brace’s four adjustable straps to keep your gel packs firmly in place or use them to deliver all-over compression to your knee. The wrap is crafted from a light Neoprene blend that’s soft, breathable, and machine washable. Plus, the non-slip material will keep it from bunching or twisting while you use it.

Type: Brace | Closure: Velcro | Compression: Yes | Special Features: Hot and cold therapy

What Experts Say

"There is no brace that can prevent injury from occurring or that can take the place of normal ligamentous stability or muscle strength. Strength and flexibility are still more important than any kind of bracing in order to perform an activity or daily task. A brace in itself cannot cause harm​,​ in my opinion, but reliance on one instead of ​addressing ​underlying issues is not maximizing the use of the brace." —Erin DiGangi, Physical Therapist in La Grange Park, Illinois

Best for Running: TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support

Pros
  • Stays dry as you sweat

  • Remains in place while you run

  • Doesn't overly restrict range of motion

Cons
  • Wears out with frequent use

The TechWare Pro Knee Brace offers maximum support for runner’s knee and is designed to solve many of the problems runners encounter while wearing knee braces. For starters, the brace’s wraparound design and adjustable straps combine to offer a fit that won’t slip out of place as you log your miles. And the brace’s fabric is lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking, allowing you to run long distances without it becoming too wet or heavy.

What's more, the brace's open-kneecap design promises to offer relief and compression in equal measure without limiting your range of motion while you run. It comes in four sizes—medium, large, extra-large, and 2XL—and it's also suitable for youth.

Type: Brace | Closure: Velcro, hook and loop | Compression: Yes | Special Features: None

Best for Weightlifting: Iron Bull Strength Knee Sleeves

Pros
  • Plenty of stability and support

  • Doesn't restrict range of motion

  • Helps reduce swelling

Cons
  • Sizing runs small

These knee sleeves were designed with all weightlifters in mind—from CrossFitters to powerlifters to regular gym rats—offering support and stability without sacrificing comfort or range of motion. The sleeves are lined with silicone gel strips that hold them firmly in place while you work out, and they’re crafted from a flexible compression fabric that helps reduce swelling during activity and promotes recovery afterward.

The brace comes in various stylish colors and a range of sizes, from small to 2XL, with a detailed size chart and instructions for measuring your knee to find the perfect fit.

Type: Sleeve | Closure: Slip-on | Compression: Yes | Special Features: Anti-slip technology

Final Verdict

If you're looking for knee support that's fitting for both daily movement and more intense activity, you can't go wrong with the DonJoy Deluxe Hinged Knee Brace. It offers compression, comfort, and support for folks dealing with a wide variety of knee problems, keeping your joint stable and safe as you work through your personal rehabilitation plan.

Prefer a sleeve design to a bulkier brace? Try the UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve. The sleek, low-profile design makes it comfortable and easy to wear, no matter what the day ahead holds for you, and the breathable, quick-drying, recovery-promoting fabric will remain in place as you move.

What to Look for in a Knee Support Product

Style

Most over-the-counter knee support products come in the form of a brace, sleeve, or strap, each of which addresses different types of knee problems and pain. It's important to understand the underlying problem with your knee first before outfitting it with additional support so you pick a product that can provide proper relief.

“First and foremost, it’s necessary to find something that will give you the most comfort with the purpose of stabilizing your joint,” says Mark Russ, PT, DPT, at Ohio Health in Columbus, Ohio. “Whether you’re an athlete that needs lightweight material so you can play your sport, or you’re someone working through an orthopedic injury, comfort is key.” He says that a support product that doesn’t feel good means you likely won’t be wearing it often.

Support

The amount and type of support will vary from product to product. For instance, some sleeves provide a simple sense of compression while other braces tighten with straps to counter joint instability. 

“If someone is going through an osteoarthritis flare-up or has chronic knee pain, I would recommend a brace,” says Russ. “If someone is in athletics or is a weekend warrior, then it’s typically recommended to use a sleeve or strap.” He notes that a sleeve or strap increases stability without restriction—allowing you to move your joints more freely.

Breathability

If you plan on wearing a knee support product during your favorite activity, prioritize the breathability of the fabrics used in its construction. A lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable material will make all the difference in keeping you both comfortable and pain-free as you run, hike, lift weights, and more.

Adjustability

If your knee condition fluctuates from day to day, consider the adjustability in the knee support product you ultimately pick. For instance, braces with straps allow you to adjust the general fit, compression, and amount of joint stabilization, which also impacts your overall range of motion.

Russ also says that a knee support product that fits someone else might not fit you. “Since most people have different sizes (and sometimes shapes) of knees, it’s important to have an adjustable brace to ensure it fits snuggly and doesn’t slip down the leg,” he adds. This versatility is particularly helpful when you deal with varying levels of inflammation or when you're working to improve your overall knee condition with a physical therapy routine.

FAQs

What's the difference between a knee support and a knee brace?

Knee braces and knee supports such as knee sleeves and straps are all supportive devices that can help with knee pain, but they’re used for different issues. A knee strap may provide support and help reduce stress and pain for conditions such as runner’s knee and iliotibial band syndrome.

Knee sleeves may be used to provide compression to alleviate swelling and increase blood flow for injuries such as bruised or sprained knees, runner’s knee, or osteoarthritis. A knee brace might be recommended after knee surgery, ligament injuries, or meniscus injuries to provide more support and comfort during activities.

Do knee supports help knee pain?

Wearing a knee support such as a knee brace, knee sleeve, and knee strap may help with knee pain by providing support and compression to the knee. One of the best ways to determine if a knee support can help is to simply wear it and see if the pain dissipates, according to Brandon Schmitt, DPT, ATC, chair of the Knee Special Interest Group of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy.

You can also consult your physical therapist or doctor for advice on whether you need to use a knee support and when to wear it.

Is it ok to wear a knee support all day?

The amount of time you wear a knee support really depends on the type of support and the activity. “If someone is wearing a patella strap for tendinopathy, they may only wear it during higher level activities, such as tennis,” says Dr. Schmitt.  “An individual with patella femoral pain may feel the need to wear a compressive sleeve most of the day when they’re walking or moving around.” 

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist for guidance on if and how long you should wear a knee support.

How tight should a knee support be?

Knee supports should be tight enough that they’re snug and won’t slip, but also loose enough that they’re comfortable and not restrictive. If you feel that it’s pinching or cutting off your circulation, then it’s too tight.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a seasoned health writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. Her goal is to recommend products that are genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them, and that adhere to basic guidelines laid out by licensed medical experts.

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  1. Cudejko T, van der Esch M, van der Leeden M, 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 Res Ther. 2017;19(1):260. doi:10.1186/s13075-017-1456-0