Knee braces help to support and protect your knee, and are especially required when you have a moderate knee injury involving cartilage or ligament damage. A good knee brace reduces pain and accelerates the healing process by limiting your range of motion.
Therefore, for the best protection, it is essential that you wear your knee brace correctly. In order to make a full recovery, it is important you have the right brace for your specific level of injury as recommended by a physician.
This post will give you advice on how to put on a knee brace, how to comfortably wear a knee brace and also how best to protect yourself from future injury.
How to put on a Knee brace
It sounds so simple, but this can often be the most frustrating part in knowing how to wear a knee brace.
1. Choose the right style brace.
• The type and severity of injury will dictate the best style of knee brace for you. For mild sprains, you may be able to get away with a compression sleeve. For more serious tears or fractures, a heavier-duty hinged brace reinforced with metal or plastic may be needed.
• Your physician will decide on a suitable brace for your injury.
2. Apply to affected knee.
• Firstly, roll up your trouser leg so the brace goes directly onto your skin.
• If you have a slip on brace, slip your foot into the top of the brace (the area where it widens to accommodate your thigh) and out through the bottom. Slide the brace up your leg until it rests over your injured knee.
• If you have a wrap style brace, place the inside of the pad against your knee then wind the straps around.
3. Centre the brace on your kneecap.
• Most braces will have a small hole in the front to indicate which way they should go on.
• If the kneecap is visible though this hole, the brace is being worn correctly. This will offer the greatest comfort and keep the skin ventilated underneath the brace.
• Align the brace so the hole doesn’t catch or pinch your skin.
• If you’re wondering how to keep a knee brace from slipping down, it’s important that you ensure that the brace is tight enough so it doesn’t slide up or down before you secure it.
4. Tighten the straps once the brace is properly situated.
• If you have a compression sleeve and there are additional straps, guide these around the back of the brace and secure them at the front using the Velcro straps, ensuring a snug fit.
• You should be able to fit one or two fingers into the space between your leg and the brace. If you can’t then the brace needs to be relaxed slightly.
How to Comfortably Wear a Knee Brace
Stop the brace slipping down by wearing the brace under other clothes.
• When in places like work or school, it is often necessary to cover up your knee brace.
• To increase comfort, wear loose fitting garments such as baggy jeans or sweatpants that will allow the brace to fit underneath.
• Tip: Always strap the brace on first, the brace will work better the closer it is to the joint and this will stop it from slipping down.
• Athletic clothing tends to have more stretch and be baggier, which may be easier to manage.
• If you are at home, wearing shorts will be your easiest option. Shorts have less material to get in the way to stop the brace from moving whilst also promoting airflow to your leg.
• For longer braces that sit higher on the leg, such as hinged functional braces, shorts are best suited.
Periodically remove the brace.
• This will give your skin chance to breathe as well as relieving the pressure around your knee.
• Whilst not wearing the brace, be careful not to place too much weight on your injured leg. It is best to try and remain sitting or lying down whilst wearing the brace.
• Avoid the brace getting wet by removing it before showering or swimming.
• Speak to your doctor about the appropriate times for your knee to be unsupported and for how long.
Protecting Yourself from Further Injury
The physician knows best!
- Always listen to your physician and trust them when it comes to your injury. They will tell you the important things you need to know about your injury, the best ways to wear your brace, how long you’ll need it for, and what movements to avoid.
- Some knee injuries only require you to wear your knee brace for part of the day or for certain activities. More serious injuries may require you to wear your brace at all times.
- Ask your doctor any questions you may have about your knee injury or the rehabilitation process.
- Try to keep your weight off your bad knee to prevent any unnecessary strain on the joint. Until your knee is strong enough to support your full weight, it will be vulnerable to pressure changes so mind your step when walking, such as when walking up curbs.
- If severe enough, you may need crutches to walk for the first few days or weeks.
- Limping can be beneficial as it can reduce the amount of time you spend on one leg.
Limit your range of motion.
- The purpose of your knee brace is to stop your injured leg from bending too much. Even whilst wearing the brace, too much flexion or rotation of your knee could make the injury worse.
- Tip: Whilst trying to heal your knee, keep it straight, elevated and relaxed.
When to exercise again?
- Always clear it with your physician as you don’t want to do more damage than good. Avoid intense actions such as weight-lifting, unless instructed otherwise.
- Slow and steady! Don’t push yourself too hard, stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort.
- To prevent further injury in non-knee friendly sports such as football, hockey, basketball or netball a brace may be very useful.
If you are unsure of the severity of your knee injury then check out our guide on the different types of knee injury and the best treatments, or get in touch! Our Orthotists at Technology in Motion are experts in the management of all types of knee injuries and have braces to provide the necessary support and control, whatever your knee injury.