Best Knee Brace for Running – Alleviate Joint Pain While Exercising

Finding the best knee brace for running starts with understanding what makes our knees so special. Did you know that babies are born without kneecaps? Instead, as newborns, we arrive to this world with soft cartilage that becomes real bone between the ages of two and six. Whether running on the word or working out at home, knees are the crux of mobility, connecting two major bones in the legs, allowing them to hinge and propel us forward. The formal name for the kneecap is patella, and as time wears on, it’s the body part perhaps most prone to daily damage. 

We’ve rounded up all the best options for the best knee brace for running regardless of your circumstance, with some helpful advice for finding the best fit. 

Knee braces have become more popular in recent years amongst serious athletes and regular runners alike. While a knee brace for running should always be worn in the case of an actual knee injury or medical condition like arthritis, an increasing number of people have turned to extra support to help them cope with regular aches and pains. Most doctors don’t recommend wearing a knee brace if you’re not experiencing pain or even actively using your knees (that means don’t wear it through the night!) However, knee pain ranks as a super common phenomenon. 

We’ve rounded up all the best options for the best knee brace for running regardless of your circumstance, with some helpful advice for finding the best fit. 

Choosing the Best Knee Brace for Running

Fit

First and foremost, fit matters. Check your measurements against the product specs to make sure your knee brace for running fits super snug, with just enough room to fit your fingers. You want support, but not strangulation.

Understanding Protection Levels

This should be the second-most factor of importance in your search for the best knee brace for running. Different protection levels suit different situations. Fortunately, there’s a fairly standardized metric of protection levels that many companies like McDavid use to share this information. 

1 – Primary

The lowest level of protection available, this tier is best suited to minor pain and potentially sprains, in addition to very tolerable levels of arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis. 

2 – Advanced

Another level higher, this level of protection offers slightly more support for those with mild to moderate instability in the knees. Also best for those recovering from more serious sprains or coping with nagging chronic conditions. 

3 – Maximum

If your knees really ache, consider this tier. It’s best for moderate and major instabilities, proactive injury prevention, and keeping your knees safe after larger scale surgeries.

3+ – Maximum PLUS

Seek out the highest level of protection if you’re dealing with large-scale knee pain or recovering from major medical procedures on the knees. 

Knee Brace Styles

You’ll find that protection levels often correspond with knee brace style, as certain shapes lend themselves to providing more support. Pair this with targeted support and personal preference to find the ideal style for your best knee brace for running. 

Knee Sleeve

Typically, this style of knee brace offers the most mild level of support. It slips over your knee like a compression sleeve to keep the joint warm, lubricated, and sturdy while you move. 

Knee Strap

Strap-style knee braces cover the least surface area, with one single strap worn below the knees or a dual strap design that supports from both below or above. This is a very low-profile style of the best knee brace for running that fits easily under clothing.

Wrap Around Knee Brace

Offering slightly more protection, wraparound knee braces offer two straps that wrap around the knee to provide even more snug support. 

Hinged Knee Brace

This variety creates perhaps the most stability possible for your knees with hinges that keep your knee in place, preventing bones and joints from moving along with you. Best used for major injuries like a ligament tear. 

Patellar Knee Brace

Open patellar braces have a hole in the front that your kneecap sits in, which creates both aeration to keep you cool and a firm spot to keep your most crucial bone in. 

Find the Best Knee Brace for Running Today!

NBA Approved: Sports Knee Support by Bauerfeind 

Sports Knee Support by Bauerfeind 

When searching for the best knee brace for running, why not take it from the pros? Bauerfeind has created the only officially licensed knee brace of the NBA—an impressive title, given the fact that this contact sport full of jumping poses a significant threat to its players’ knees. Their enforced knee sleeve brace offers ample support with targeted compression that massages the knee during movement. 3D Airknit® technology keeps this brace lightweight and breathable.

Classic Knee Sleeve: Knitted Knee Sleeve by Nike

Knitted Knee Sleeve by Nike

Looking for something a little more lightweight? If your knees are in sturdy shape but just giving you a little bit of ache, consider this classic knee sleeve from the most classic sporting equipment brand, Nike. Rendered in a simple, streamlined shape with targeted compression, this sleeve’s product description explains “the design is made with foam padding where it’s needed most and Dri-FIT technology to keep you dry and comfortable.” At $32, it’s also one of the more affordable options on the market. 

Adjustable Knee Sleeve: Pro-Grade Adjustable Knee Sleeve by Tommie Copper

Pro-Grade Adjustable Knee Sleeve by Tommie Copper

So many times, a knee sleeve proves the best knee brace for running due to the gear’s versatility and competence in keeping knees safe. There’s endless customizations that can tailor a knee sleeve to suit your specific needs. Tommie Copper makes an awesome adjustable knee sleeve so you can precisely control your level of support on a day to day basis. “Engineered with our trusted heavyweight, 4D Lycra®️ stretch fabric, ergonomic paneling, and patented Copper Znergy®️ moisture wicking, anti-odor technology you get all the things you love about our sleeves with the added support,” the company explains. 

Knee Strap: GenuPoint Knee Strap by Bauerfeind

GenuPoint Knee Strap by Bauerfeind

There’s tons of knee brace manufacturers out there, so there’s really no need to repeat names, but the quality of Bauerfeind’s offerings dominate the market so effectively that we’d be remiss not to double up and introduce you to their simple knee strap. This minimalist bit of support straps underneath your knee to stabilize and guide the patellar tendon with precisely targeted pressure points. Adjustable velcro also offers you the power of daily customization, with minimal impact on your outfit regardless of occasion. 

Dual Knee Strap: Pro-Tec Athletics X-Trac Dual Strap Knee Support

Pro-Tec Athletics X-Trac Dual Strap Knee Support

For those seeking heightened stability for their kneecap or discomfort associated with the condition quadricep tendonitis, a dual-strap knee brace yields the strongest and most efficient protection throughout the movements of daily life. Not only does this option at the best knee brace for running create compression around the knee–it also improves patellar tracking, which means your knees moves in only the right way. “Very effective,” cites one review, excellent marks for another one of the most budget-friendly options on our list!  

Knee Wrap: VOW™ Versatile Over Wrap Knee Wrap

VOW™ Versatile Over Wrap Knee Wrap

In 1969, Dr. Robert F. McDavid created the first widely used lateral protective knee brace. Since then, the McDavid company has specialized in crafting some of the most medically innovative and reliable protective gear out there for athletes and first responders alike. This history means you can trust them to find the best knee brace for running. This versatile and easy to use knee wrap can even be worn above pants on cold winter jogs to keep you warm and supported with lateral support enhanced by integrated spring steel stays. “Not overly stiff but very supportive,” writes one review. “Excellent quality for the price.”

Best Value: CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace

CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace

The best knee brace for running doesn’t need to break the bank. While these specialized bits of gear can run a hefty price tag in exchange for their support, CAMBIVO offers budget-friendly options that mean you can enjoy a little extra support on your jog without the financial impact weighing you down. For the minuscule price of $9.99 on sale, you can snag a two-pack of these simple knee sleeves either in plain black or bright green or pink for increased visibility out on the road. Great for protecting ACL or meniscus tears, this product’s description states “the 3D elastic weaving will keep the surrounding muscles around your knees warm and help them relax. Despite its rigidity, the flexible material is breathable to minimize sweating.” A steal, if you ask us!

Copper Fit: Copper Knee Brace by JIUFENTIAN 

Copper Knee Brace by JIUFENTIAN 

Throughout cultural history, copper has repeatedly been touted as a therapeutic material with the power to reduce inflammation and offer relief to aching joints. While these claims lack lab-based evidence yet, they’ve certainly struck a nerve with the collective consciousness, as runners from all walks of life have flocked to knee braces that incorporate copper fibers into their design. If you’re curious to try this folk medicine fix, make sure to pair it with a knee brace that still provides proper support regardless. Runners around the world rank this 60% copper fiber sleeve as perhaps the best knee brace for running due to its super ergonomic design and well-developed compression technology. It even comes with a 100% after sales consumer guarantee, just in case. 

Maximum Protection: 2090 Bio-Logix Knee Brace by Shock Doctor 

2090 Bio-Logix Knee Brace by Shock Doctor 

Athletes engaged with some of the most grueling and contact-heavy sports like lacrosse trust Shock Doctor to protect their vulnerable knees. At $150, their Bio-Logix Knee Brace definitely proves an investment, but for those recovering from more serious injuries and surgeries, there’s no substitute. For those individuals, this heavy-duty gear certainly proves the best knee brace for running. Bionic in appearance, it offers an advanced hinged brace design and semi-rigid support structure that allows for an adjustable, self-adaptive Flex-Fit. This brace can even be paired with a knee sleeve, or switched to fit both the right and left knee depending on the day. As time wears on and you learn to care for your body’s wear and tear more, this knee brace proves it’s a customizable and ever-shifting matrix to care for your knees, which change over the course of our lifetimes like no other body part. 

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