What are the Best Knee Wraps and Braces for Runners?

Runner with knee brace
Running for long periods or high-intensity running can take its toll on our joints, especially the kneecap. Our kneecaps can experience a great deal of wear and tear as we run, and issues can crop up as we age. One of the best ways to bolster our joints and bodies is to take proactive care of them when possible. Wearing a knee b race, regardless of age or experience as a runner, is ideal. Wearing a knee brace or wrap whether you've been injured before or never have experienced knee pain.
But the question that most likely arises if you've never worn one or looked for one before is: which are the best knee braces and wraps for runners? How do you find one that is suitable for your needs?
Before shopping to help support your joints, let's discuss everything we know about knee wraps and braces for runners.

Do You Need To Wear Knee Support While Running?

In general, if you are experiencing knee pain without a brace, we recommend visiting your primary care physician first to help you pinpoint the cause of the knee pain, first. For runners not experiencing any issues with their knees, a knee brace can be a solid addition that can correct many problems that can lead to knee pain in the first place. Additionally, getting your doctor's opinion on a recommendation is always a good idea.
While you run, your knees absorb a lot of impacts that can lead to damage over time. Therefore, wearing a knee brace is an excellent tool to protect your knees from damage and keep you running longer.

What's the Difference Between A Knee Brace and a Wrap?

Is there a difference between a knee brace and a wrap?
  • Knee wraps are often created from the same supportive and elastic materials found in wrist wraps but are made to be wrapped around the knee in such a way as to keep the knee supported without the risk of cutting off blood flow.
  • Knee braces come in many different forms. Prophylactic braces are constructed of bars, hinges, and adhesive straps and are designed to protect the knee from damage and prevent Medial Collateral Ligament damage (MCL.) These hinged knee braces are the most supportive, but they are also the move restrictive, as they do not allow a full range of motion. Knee tracking braces or Patellar tracking braces come with two straps to keep the knee cap in place, one above the knee and one below. They can often be as simple as two straps or straps and supporting material with a hole in the middle to brace and keep the kneecap in place.

What Kind Do I Need: Brace or Wrap?

Multiple types and designs for knee braces and wraps are created to address a range of purposes. Some knee braces protect the knee from injury or protect an injured knee from further damage while it heals; some help in recovery, and others are only for support.
The ideal knee brace or wrap that will work for you entirely depends on your wants and needs. If you've experienced a previous knee injury, you may need a brace, which offers better and more specific support than a wrap. You'll have no issue finding out for everyday activities such as walking or running without a prior injury.
If you are previously injured or are currently healing from one, your doctor or physiotherapist should help steer you toward a knee brace or wrap that works best for you—or you may still have the original knee brace or wrap given to you to help heal. There's no reason why you shouldn't keep wearing that one even though your injury has healed.
To find a quality knee brace, here are the features to look out for:
  • Adjustable athletic support
  • Open patella (knee cap) design
  • Breathable, moisture-wicking material
  • Flexible side stabilizers
  • Anatomically correct contouring
To find a quality knee wrap, find one with these features:
  • Look for a knee wrap between 78 and 80 inches, as it allows you the range to do most knee wrap methods such as Spiral, Triple X, and Bowtie.
  • Knee wraps should be roughly 3 inches wide and elastic.
  • If you prefer to skip the learning curve with the classic knee wrap, consider a hook-and-loop wrap, as it has a velcro-based locking system and does not require you to learn how to wrap your knee correctly.

The Best Knee Braces and Knee Wraps

In our expert's opinion, here are the best knee braces and wraps for runners:
Best Budget Knee Braces:
  1. Budget Knee Brace – The Equate Knee Brace. Extremely affordable with three-strap contouring and compressive material. However, the fit is not universal.
  2. For injured or previously injured knees: Doufurt Knee Brace stabilizer. Moisture-wicking material with side stabilizers and compressive material.
Best Hinged Knee Braces:
  1. Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Guard, Hinged Compression Knee Brace. We love that it has bilateral hinges, anatomical contouring, and compression materials.
Best Knee Wraps:
  1. RDX Knee Wraps. Not just for bodybuilding, RDX knee wraps are affordable and highly comfortable to wear, and their tail and velcro are rounded.
  2. Mava Sports Knee Wraps for Cross Training. With a hook and closure loop to make things easier, these are perfect for newbies. They're also comfortable, don't irritate the skin, and offer reliability for amateur athletes.
The bottom line is that knee braces or wraps for running are a great tool to keep you pain-free! If you have to wear one every time you run because of pain, remember that it might signal a deeper issue and that it is always our advice to speak to a medical professional regarding persistent pain.
Of course, when it comes to compression, it is always safe to wear a compression sleeve of socks when running. Using a knee brace or long-term wrap if it's helpful is acceptable. Remember that if you run through sudden knee pain or knee pain that lasts months, it is worth checking out to ensure no severe issues are happening and get the OK to continue running.