9 Best Knee Braces for Sports In 2022

Written by on June 25, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By: Mitch Torres (PT)

ArmaJoint sleeve, Braceability stabilizer, and Cocoon Knee Flex Pro over a red background, top knee braces for playing sports

Playing sports inevitably increases your risk of knee issues. But, having the right knee brace can help you recover faster and even reduce your risk of injury.

Now, the best knee brace for sports is the one that helps you perform better without restricting your range of motion.

Compression sleeves are a popular choice. They reduce knee pain and swelling – great for sore knees, joint pain, or chronic knee pain. But, a hinged knee brace is better for recovering from a ligament or meniscus tear.

We know it can be hard to choose, so our team of physical therapists compiled this list of 9 knee braces for sports. We’re confident you’ll find something that fits your needs below!

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall: ArmaJoint Knee Compression Sleeve

This breathable sleeve doesn’t restrict movement – perfect for those with mild symptoms that want to get through training and prevent further complications.

Best for RecoveryCocoon Knee Flex Pro

This compression sleeve doubles as a hot/cold pack. Its versatility can boost the recovery of any type of injury in sports – sprains, strains, tears, chronic knee pain, or even post-op healing.

Best for StabilityBraceability Patella Stabilizing Knee Brace

This sturdy knee brace has metal hinges, a kneecap hole for patella support, and doesn’t limit mobility. Rest assured, your knee will be safe and stable while wearing it.

Comparison of the top 9 knee braces for sports

1.  ArmaJoint Knee Compression Sleeve

Pros

  • Uniform and strong compression.
  • Stays in place and doesn’t bunch up.
  • Comfortable and durable materials.
  • 3D woven to enhance fit.

Cons

  • Doesn’t come in pairs.
  • Doesn’t have kneecap hole.

Its compression boosts blood flow, which can help treat and prevent injuries.

To be honest, every athlete should have at least one reliable knee sleeve. And ArmaJoint’s will be your best bet for that. See, we designed this sleeve to enhance your performance.

You won’t have to worry about it slipping down mid-game. You just focus on doing what you do best, while this sleeve takes care of your knee.

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We did an ArmaJoint sleeve review where we give more details about this garment. One thing to note is that it doesn’t have side stabilizers. So, if you need that extra support, the Braceability brace will be a better choice.

  • Material: Nylon, Spandex
  • Size: S-XL
  • Color options: Black, Green

2. Cocoon Knee Flex Pro Hot and Cold Compression Sleeve

Pros

  • 360° of heat/cold therapy.
  • Compression to boost the benefits of thermotherapy.
  • Leakproof makes it as durable as they come.
  • Hassle-free – just put in the freezer/microwave.
  • Wear on other joints.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Slippery due to the smooth fabric.

Heat/Cold therapy and compression – the best combo for recovery.

Cold reduces pain and swelling, while heat increases blood flow and warms up your joints before training. Both are good for knee problems, but the added compression boosts their effects.

The Cocoon Knee Flex Pro gives you the best of both worlds – thermotherapy and compression, on-demand. No wet mess, no gel packs leaking, and you can wear it on other joints!

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And the fabric is silky smooth. This gives it a luxurious feel, although it also makes the sleeve a bit more slippery. But it’s a small tradeoff for how easier your recovery will get with it.

  • Material: Lycra, hydrogel
  • Size: S, M, L.
  • Color options: Blue

3. Braceability Patella Stabilizing Knee Brace

Pros

  • Sleeve-like compression.
  • Lateral hinges for stability.
  • Open kneecap design.
  • Velcro straps for further customization.
  • Neoprene and latex-free.

Cons

  • A bit bulky.
  • Takes a while to put on.

Do you need stability without limiting mobility? This is the one.

This Braceability sleeve has a little bit of everything to make sure your knee is fully protected. See, the compressive fabric helps with swelling, while the open kneecap design keeps the patella in place and reduces pressure on the area.

The side stays prevent lateral movement, needed to promote recovery in knee sprains and meniscal injuries. And the customizable straps add further compression if needed.

But, it may be excessive for those with mild injuries. The ArmaJoint or the Cocoon Knee Flex Pro will be better choices.

  • Material: Neoprene alternative, velcro, aluminum spiral stays.
  • Size: S-4XL.
  • Color options: Black.

4. Shock Doctor 875 Ultra Knee Guard

This Shock Doctor knee stabilizer has removable metal hinges for stability. Leave them on in the early stages of recovery and remove them once the injury heals.

Also, the knee straps provide additional lateral support. Customize the pressure on the velcro straps for more or less stability.

Its open-kneecap design relieves pressure on the patellar area, thus reducing pain as well.

And, although the latex-free fabric feels tight at first, it can be broken in after a few uses which gives it a better fit.

  • Size options: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.
  • Color options: Black.

Durability and Quality

The metal hinges are as durable as they come, and the velcro is very strong. If you follow the washing instructions, this brace will last a long time.

Who this knee brace is for

For people with chronic instability. Or while recovering from meniscus injuries, or ligament sprains -like on the anterior cruciate ligament and/or medial collateral ligament.

Who this knee brace isn’t for

It’s excessive for people with mild injuries. The ArmaJoint may be a better option.

5. Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support

This renowned German brand offers one of the best knee support for sports.

It has a little bit of everything – kneecap support, stabilizers, compression… Your knee will be grateful for this brace.

Comfort and Stability

The fabric is specifically designed for sports. It’s lightweight, soft, and dries quickly – the perfect balance between breathability and comfort.

It also has two side stabilizers for additional support – an amazing option for people recovering from mild injuries.

And, we love the patella gel pad. It has a patented design that massages the tissues around the kneecap and stimulates the muscles in the area. Ideal for chronic injuries.

  • Size options: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL.
  • Color options: Black, blue, pink.

Durability and Quality

This fabric withstands frequent use – 3 to 5 times a week – without losing elasticity.

Who this knee support is for

A perfect brace for physically active people with chronic knee issues – sprains, tendinitis, jumper’s or runner’s knee…

It will prolong your knee health, regardless of your athletic expertise.

Who this knee support isn’t for

Not for wearing in sedentary activities, like sitting in the office. It may bunch up behind your knee. In that scenario, the ArmaJoint or Neenca are better choices.

6. IPOW 2 Pack Knee Strap

Knee straps provide compression to the patellar tendon. This helps treat knee pain from runner’s knee, jumper’s knee, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, and similar knee injuries.

Now, Ipow offers the most budget-friendly option of adjustable straps we’ve seen, without compromising quality. The pack includes a pair of straps for each of your knee joints.

Comfort and Stability

One key feature of this knee strap is the velcro. It’s strong and it doesn’t pop out, meaning it will stay in place while you run or jump.

The padding is extremely soft and comfortable. It doesn’t accumulate sweat or chafe the skin either.

Yet, one thing we missed is some cushioning on the back. The velcro can pinch a little behind the knee if you don’t put the strap correctly. This won’t be an issue if you put it on right.

  • Size options: One size fits all – from 10 to 18 inches in knee circumference.
  • Color options: Black, pink, white.

PS: If you need a knee strap, here’s our list of the best ones.

Durability and Quality

The velcro is particularly strong and resistant to use. The padding may stretch over time, though – this is true with most straps.

Who this knee strap is for

The minimalistic design of this knee strap provides a big relief for patellar tendon injuries and anterior knee pain.

Who this knee strap isn’t for

It won’t provide lateral stability. The Braceability, Shock Doctor, or Bauerfeind knee braces are better options in that case.

7. NEENCA Professional Knee Brace

This knee brace is a budget-friendly option to the Bauerfeind. It has a classic patella-gel pad, side stabilizers, and a slip-on design that makes it easy to put on and off.

Comfort and Stability

The patella gel pad reduces the pressure on the kneecap, alleviating knee pain in that area. Its design may not be as unique as the Bauerfeind, but it will get the job done.

Its bilateral side stabilizers provide support while allowing full mobility. And, the fabric is soft yet comfortable and breathable.

  • Size options: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.
  • Color options: Black, blue, gray, pink, beige.

Durability and Quality

The stitching is strong and the fabric has 3D weaving, so don’t worry about undoing seams. The silicone gel strips are a bit delicate, though.

Who this knee brace is for

For active people wanting additional support, compression, and kneecap relief at an affordable price.

Who this knee brace isn’t for

It’s excessive if you only need swelling management, pain relief, or injury prevention. The Cocoon Knee Flex or ArmaJoint sleeves are better options.

8. MODVEL 2 Pack Knee Joint Brace

The Modvel offers a pack of 2 closed kneecap compression sleeves at an average price. It also has the most variety of colors on this list.

Comfort and Stability

This is your classic knee sleeve – soft, breathable, and elastic enough to manage mild swelling effectively.

What we love the most is that it comes in pairs. You can wear them on both knee joints or have the other sleeve as a spare.

  • Size options: S, M, L, XL, 2XL.
  • Color options: Orange, black, blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, skin.

Durability and Quality

This comfortable sleeve can withstand machine-washing without losing its elastic properties. But, it will inevitably stretch over time.

Who this knee sleeve is for

This is a great option for people on a budget wanting a knee sleeve that will get the job done – keep your knee joint warm and manage swelling.

Who this knee sleeve isn’t for

If you want a compression sleeve that will last a long time. In that case, the ArmaJoint or Cocoon Knee Flex Pro are better options.

9. Vive Knee Cold/Hot Gel Brace

The Vive compression brace provides an easier way to do the RICE protocol after working out.

It’s not as versatile, comfortable, or durable as the Cocoon Knee Flex Pro, but it’s a fine option if you only want cold therapy.

Comfort and Stability

The wrap is made of neoprene and the pack includes 3 gel packs that fit into “pockets” at the front and back of the brace. The 4 adjustable straps customize the compression level you desire as well.

However, we tested the gel pads for heat and the temperature didn’t last much.

  • Size options: One size fits all. Fits knee circumferences up to 21”.
  • Color options: Grey.

Durability and Quality

The fabric itself is machine-washable and the velcro is strong. Yet, the gel pads tend to break down after a while and the content leaks out.

Who this knee wrap is for

For an alternate way to apply cold therapy to your sore knee at an affordable price.

Who this knee wrap isn’t for

If you want a versatile sleeve that also provides hot/cold therapy. If that’s you, the Cocoon Knee Flex Pro is a better choice.

Factors to consider when choosing the best knee braces for playing sports

Comfort and stability

First, consider your needs. For starters, if you have a severe meniscus tear without ligament injuries, unloader knee braces are your best bet.

But, if you want to prevent injuries and keep your knee warm, a sleeve will be more than enough.

Your brace must be comfortable enough so it doesn’t hinder your performance. However, keep in mind that additional stability can make the brace a little uncomfortable.

However, you can fix this easily by wearing a thin sleeve underneath.

Durability and Quality

The fabric must be strong and durable enough to withstand your training frequency. You may want to consider having more than one brace to alternate them and prolong their life.

Also, think about the materials. Neoprene is durable but it accumulates odors fast. Certain fabric blends don’t retain odors as easily but stretch after a while.

Value for Money

If you’re a seasoned athlete, we recommend having at least a high-quality sleeve. It will help you manage pain and swelling after hard workouts.

Also, if you have chronic knee problems, it may be best to invest in a high-quality brace.

These may be an investment at first, but they will save you time and money down the road – fewer injuries, less off-time, etc.

Final thoughts

The best knee brace for playing sports will enhance your performance. And, have any additional features necessary to help you manage or prevent injuries.

Yes, there’s an immense variety of braces, but we hope this list pointed you in the right direction. We’re confident you’ll find the best one for you!

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