Best OTC Knee Brace | 10 Recommendations From A Physical Therapist

Our physical therapist checked the best over-the-counter knee braces out there… So you don’t have to.

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall: MyCocoon Hot and Cold Compression Sleeve

It’s a knee sleeve AND hot/cold pack in one. Perfect for any stage of recovery, easy to use, and you can wear it on other joints.

Best Value for Money: PentagonFit Knee Sleeve

Durable, high-quality compression sleeve at an affordable price. With several sizes and colors to choose from.

Best for Chronic Knee Pain: Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers & Patella Gel Pads

A wraparound brace with stabilizers. It lets you customize the level of compression to help in day-to-day knee issues.

Best for Ligament Injuries: DonJoy Performance Bionic Fullstop

A slip-up hinged brace that prevents hyperextension. It protects your knee at every angle while allowing full range of movement.

Best for Patellar Tendonitis: IPOW Knee Strap

A comfortable strap to reduce knee pain below your patella. Minimalist design, variety of colors, and extremely comfortable.

In This Article

OTC means “over the counter.” This means you can get it without a doctor’s prescription. You can buy these knee braces in a store or online, for example.

Now, there are several types of knee braces. The best one for you will depend on your specific needs. That’s why it’s key to do some digging before buying – a brace can be a blessing or a curse.

Before starting, know that we won’t include rigid braces or unloader knee braces in this list. They work best when monitored by a health professional.

With that said, let’s see the 10 OTC braces our physical therapist recommends:

Comparison of 10 over-the-counter knee braces

1. My Cocoon Hot and Cold Compression Sleeve

My cocoon knee brace, best OTC knee brace

MyCocoon is a slip-on compression sleeve that doubles as a hot or cold pack. It combines the benefits of compression sleeves with hot/cold therapy. It’s extremely versatile and easy to use.

Comfort and Stability

MyCocoons have hydrogel, a material that can retain hot or cold temperatures. You can microwave it for heat therapy, or leave it in the fridge before wearing it for cold therapy.

They will save you the wet mess from the ice pack melting. And will apply compression to your knee to reduce pain and inflammation. It can’t get more practical than that.

This versatility also makes MyCocoons a little more expensive. They’re absolutely worth the price, though – they will save you time and hassle, so you focus on your recovery.

Size options: S, M, L. Wear the same Cocoon on other joints.

Color options: Black.

Durability and Quality

MyCocoons are double-stitched, with strong lycra. Combined with the leak-proof hydrogel, we’re confident about its durability.

Who this sleeve is for

MyCocoons can promote healing in all stages of knee recovery.

They’re highly effective at reducing knee pain and swelling due to the cold combined with compression. And, the heat can keep the joint warm to relieve knee arthritis pain.

Who this sleeve isn’t for

People with moderate or severe stability issues will need more knee support. A hinged knee brace is a better option. Check the suggestions below.

MyCocoons are the most versatile sleeve we’ve ever seen. Try them! Here’s a coupon code to save 15% on your Cocoons:

CODE: KNEEFORCE

  • Pros
  • Cons
  • A conventional knee sleeve AND hot/cold therapy.
  • Prevent injuries and promote recovery.
  • Can be used on your other joints.
  • Won't bunch up and will stay in place.
  • Sustainable materials.
  • 2. PentagonFit Knee Sleeve

    PentagonFit Compression Knee Sleeves, best over-the-counter knee sleeve

    We think this is one of the best knee sleeves in the market.

    This closed-patella sleeve was designed by a team of pain therapists. It will provide compression without restricting your range of motion.

    Comfort and Stability

    The PentagonFit Knee sleeve has nylon and spandex. This blend provides breathability and has moisture-wicking properties.

    This sleeve also allows a free range of motion. You could wear it while playing sports or during your daily activities. It will compress your knee evenly regardless of what you’re doing.

    A silicon non-slip bar also keeps the PentagonFit sleeve in place. It slides down occasionally, but it holds up better than other alternatives.

    Size options: M, L, XL, XXL.

    Color options: Black, red, blue.

    Durability and Quality

    Its 3D woven fabric makes this sleeve highly durable. The fabric can become a little stretchy after machine-washing it, though.

    Who this sleeve is for

    For anyone that wants to reduce knee pain and inflammation without a huge financial investment. Also, for people wanting to prevent knee injuries.

    It also helps people recovering from serious injuries, like a meniscus tear. One of our team members did. He recommended us PentagonFit sleeves personally.

    Who this sleeve isn’t for

    If you need specific features like patella tracking, hinges, or straps for stability, this sleeve isn’t for you. Check the other options in this list.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Easy to put on and take off.
  • Available in several sizes and colors.
  • Freedom of range of motion.
  • 60-day money-back guarantee.
  • 3. Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers & Patella Gel Pads

    If you have chronic knee pain, this knee brace will adapt to your day-to-day needs. It stays in place all day and gives you control over how much compression you want.

    Comfort and Stability

    This Bodyprox knee brace has an open-patella design. It will keep your kneecap in place, regardless of what you do.

    It has two velcro adjustable straps, in a criss-cross design. This lets you customize how much compression you want and keeps the brace in place.

    If that wasn’t enough, it also has side stabilizers. Each one will act as a shock absorber to keep your joints safe and stable at the same time.

    Size options: One size fits all and XL.

    Color options: Black.

    Durability and Quality

    The Bodyprox brace can withstand daily use in hard work conditions, like constant kneeling. Constant use can wear off the velcro over time, but this is true with almost anything with velcro.

    Who this knee brace is for

    This is an amazing wraparound brace for people with chronic knee issues. Its breathability will prevent skin irritation as well.

    The design can relieve pain for people with kneecap issues – like runner’s knee.

    Who this knee brace isn’t for

    The side springs may not be enough for people with severe ligament instabilities. Metal hinges will be a better choice.

    It’s not the best option for people with unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis either. An unloader brace is best in this case.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Criss-cross straps to customize the compression.
  • Side-springs for stability.
  • Doesn't slide off easily.
  • Great price for all it offers.
  • 4. DonJoy Performance Bionic Fullstop

    This model from DonJoy’s prevents knee hyperextension. This is key after an ACL injury, so the ligament heals properly. It can also help prevent ligament injuries during contact sports.

    Comfort and Stability

    This knee brace was designed with athletes in mind. It’s an open-kneecap, slip-up brace. Easy to put on and take off.

    The bilateral hinges will keep your knee stable. They prevent side movements and stop your knee from hyperextending. Rest assured, your knee will be safe no matter what.

    Another special thing about this brace is its anti-migration technology. The brace won’t slip down so you can focus on your game.

    Size options: S, M, L, XL.

    Color options: Black.

    Durability and Quality

    The heavy-duty hinges are designed to last. The straps may loosen up after constant or aggressive use.

    Who this knee brace is for

    For athletes recovering from moderate or severe ligament sprains. Also, for preventing ligament injuries during sports.

    This brace may protect the ligaments post-surgery as well. This is if the orthopedic surgeon allows knee movement. Talk to them first before wearing this brace after surgery.

    Who this knee brace isn’t for

    People with a mild knee injury. This brace is excessive in that case.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • As much support as you can get while playing sports.
  • Easy to put on and off.
  • Protects ligaments from injury.
  • Open patella design for added support in that area.
  • 5. IPOW Knee Strap

    The IPOW strap provides compression on the patellar tendon. This can reduce knee pain in people with patellar tendinopathy, runner’s knee, and other kneecap issues.

    Comfort and Stability

    IPOW knee straps are made of velcro and cushion material. Wrap it below your kneecap to put pressure on the tendon and reduce pain.

    The material is soft to the touch. This is key to prevent skin irritation while running or doing other physical activities.

    One thing we love about it is that their velcro straps are soft on the back as well. This will keep the velcro away from your skin to avoid pinching.

    Size options: One size. Fits for 10-18 inches in knee circumference.

    Color options: Black, blue, pink, white.

    Durability and Quality

    IPOW’s quality materials and stitching make sure the cushioning will last a long time. But, it can become stretchy after constant use.

    Who this strap is for

    For almost any type of patellar tendon issue. They improve function around the kneecap and reduce pain in that area.

    IPOW straps will be particularly helpful for people with patellar tendonitis, runner’s knee, or Osgood-Schlatter’s disease.

    For further reading: 

    Who this strap isn’t for

    It won’t reduce swelling or promote knee stability. If you need more support on your joint, wear a knee sleeve or a hinged brace instead.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Easy to use.
  • Minimalist design.
  • Comfortable on the front and back of your joint.
  • Less pain on the patellar tendon.
  • 6. Incrediwear Knee Sleeve

    Incrediwear knee sleeve on athlete's knee, best OTC knee brace

    This knee sleeve’s fabric is a signature blend of several materials that may enhance its anti-inflammatory properties.

    Comfort and Stability

    What makes these sleeves stand out is their fabric.

    It’s an extremely comfortable and breathable material embedded with germanium – a semiconductor element that may reduce inflammation in some people.

    They went as far as testing these sleeves in several studies. In one, more than half of the starting group patients had less knee pain after 6 months of wearing these sleeves.

    On the downside, this fabric and its effects make Incrediwear sleeves more expensive than others.

    Size options: M, L, XL, XXL.

    Color options: Gray, black.

    Durability and Quality

    They are more durable than average sleeves due to their fabric blend. They’re 3D woven as well, so the seams won’t undo easily. This design also keeps their compression properties even after washing.

    Who this sleeve is for

    For anyone who needs to manage mild or moderate knee pain.

    We think it’s a great knee brace for arthritis as well. It’s durable, comfortable, and can be worn often. It may help with pain and inflammation from this injury.

    Who this sleeve isn’t for

    For people with moderate or severe knee instability.

    Also, these sleeves are on the expensive side and don’t come in pairs. They may not be the best option if you’re on a budget.

    We know Incrediwear sleeves can help you, but they can be expensive. Use our 20% discount code when you buy 2 knee sleeves:

    CODE: knee20

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Signature fabric blend for comfort and healing.
  • 3D woven for more durability.
  • Great for reducing pain and swelling.
  • Wear them under clothes - they're not bulky.
  • 7. NEENCA Professional Knee Compression Sleeve

    This is a crossover between a sleeve and a hinged brace, with a patella gel pad. It’s an affordable option for athletes and people that want as much as they can get from a single sleeve.

    Comfort and Stability

    The NEENCA Knee Sleeve has a closed-kneecap design. The fabric is extremely comfortable and elastic to keep your knee joint warm and reduce inflammation.

    It has metal hinges on each side. This gives moderate support to your knee, making it a great sleeve for mild instability.

    The medical-grade silicone strips keep the sleeve in place. And, its patella gel pad will reduce pressure in the kneecap area.

    Also, it’s more breathable than neoprene. The backside of the sleeve has a fabric that keeps your knee ventilated during exercise and won’t accumulate sweat.

    Size options: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.

    Color options: Black, blue, gray, pink, beige.

    Durability and Quality

    The stitching is made to last. Its 3D woven fabric and hinges will provide support for a long time. The silicone strips may break down if washed with a machine, though.

    Who this sleeve is for

    For people wanting the benefits from standard sleeves with added support. This is a great knee brace for arthritis and mild instability, for example.

    It’s an amazing choice for mild or moderate knee sprains. The soft tissue will need extra support to heal while allowing knee range of motion.

    Who this sleeve isn’t for

    For people that don’t need ligament or kneecap support. This sleeve can be excessive in that case.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • More breathable than neoprene.
  • Easy to take on and off.
  • No straps.
  • More supportive than other sleeves while keeping mobility.
  • 8. EzyFit Knee Brace

    This is an open-patella, wraparound knee brace with hinges. Your knee will feel safe while wearing this. It can take some time to put on, but once you do, it stays there no matter what.

    Comfort and Stability

    The EzyFit’s blend of neoprene, nylon, and polyester makes it an extremely comfortable brace. Its 3.5mm thickness provides a feeling of security on your knee like any other.

    It has three velcro straps to customize the level of compression. They also keep the brace in place, and the silicon strips prevent it from slipping down.

    The hinges are flexible, allowing movement while keeping your knee safe. And, the double-stitched edges will keep the velcro from scratching your skin.

    Size options: M, L, XL.

    Color options: Black

    Durability and Quality

    Apart from its high-quality blend of neoprene, polyester, and nylon, the EzyFit knee brace has reinforced double-stitching. This makes the brace highly resistant to constant use.

    Who this knee brace is for

    This brace will be life-changing for people with chronic instability. Also for people with arthritis pain, as it will keep the joint in place while providing a feeling of security.

    It can help people with kneecap-related pain as well.

    Who this knee brace isn’t for

    If you need to wear it fast or you have little patience, this brace won’t be the best choice. It takes some time to put it on.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • 3.5mm of neoprene and straps for tons of support.
  • Extremely comfortable.
  • Open-kneecap design.
  • Several sizing options.
  • 9. Shock Doctor 875 Knee Brace

    This knee brace keeps your knee joint stable with its bilateral hinges and snug fit. Once the velcro breaks in, it will stay on all day.

    Comfort and Stability

    The Shock Doctor 875 is an open patella knee brace. The latex-free fabric is very breathable and fits tightly around your knee.

    It’s very easy to put on – just slip it on like a sock. Align the patella hole with your kneecap, fasten the straps to secure it, and you’re done.

    This knee brace also has heavy-duty hinges on each side. They’re removable, so take them off when you don’t need the extra stability anymore.

    It feels small at first but it stretches out. The manufacturer wants to provide a close fit, they recommend following their sizing instructions before buying.

    Size options: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.

    Color options: Black.

    Durability and Quality

    The fabric is durable, comfortable, and provides tons of stability. Make sure to follow the washing instructions to prolong the quality of the threads, though.

    Who this knee brace is for

    For anyone with chronic instability or arthritis pain. This brace is meant to be worn for the long run, as the fabric molds to your knee shape after wearing it a few times.

    Who this knee brace isn’t for

    This may be excessive for people with mild instability. A hinged knee sleeve may be enough.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Provides extreme stability while allowing full range of motion.
  • The fabric molds to your knee.
  • Removable hinges.
  • Open kneecap, slip-up design.
  • Great price.
  • 10. McDavid Bionic Knee Brace with Compression Sleeve

    This hinged knee brace is open on the front and back. You can’t get more breathable than that. It keeps your knee extremely stable and includes a sleeve.

    Comfort and Stability

    This slip-up knee brace has two straps – at the top and the bottom. Combined with the bilateral hinges, the brace will stay in place easily.

    The thing we love the most about it is how customizable it is. It has little wedges inside, between the frame and the padding. You can move them to contour your knee.

    This means you’ll have to spend some time at first to get the fit right, though. But once you do, you practically won’t notice the brace anymore.

    Size options: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Left or right knee.

    Color options: Black.

    Durability and Quality

    It’s one of the most durable hinged braces we’ve seen. The structure is made with aluminum, so it will last a long time. No need to worry about fabric loosening up or unthreading either.

    Who this knee brace is for

    Anyone with some kind of knee instability. Also to prevent ligament injuries during sports, as it’s lightweight and stays in place.

    We’d strongly recommend it for any recovery process as well. The additional sleeve can help you reduce swelling too.

    Who this knee brace isn’t for

    It takes some trial and error to get it right. If you don’t have the patience for it, this won’t be a good choice for you.

    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Fitting wedges make it highly customizable.
  • Extremely easy to clean.
  • Includes a knee sleeve. Wear the brace with or without it.
  • As breathable as a hinged brace can be.
  • Factors to consider when choosing the best over-the-counter knee brace

    Comfort and Stability

    If you need it after knee surgery, it should provide additional support. Your surgeon will give you specific details to look for in an OTC brace.

    In general, braces should provide firm compression evenly. But, too much compression can restrict your blood flow. Avoid this by checking the size chart of the manufacturer before buying.

    Durability and Quality

    Make sure the brace fits your needs. If you want it for playing sports or for daily use, choose a heavy-duty knee brace, for example.

    Also, follow the washing instructions. Some braces aren't machine washable, so you will have to clean them by hand. Ask yourself if that's something you're willing to do.

    Value for Money

    The affordability of knee braces is subjective. But, we tried our best to get a rough average and compared the prices of all the products we tested to that value.

    In any case, rest assured that all the knee braces mentioned above will fit different budgets.

    Conclusion

    Wearing a knee brace can help with several knee issues - from mild knee pain to severe instability. They provide pain relief and security in different ways.

    OTC braces won't be as ideal as a custom knee brace, but they're certainly cheaper and there are thousands of options to choose from. The 10 on this list are those we consider the best due to their quality, design, price, and specifications.

    Best Overall: MyCocoon Hot and Cold Compression Sleeve

    It's a knee sleeve AND hot/cold pack in one. Perfect for any stage of recovery, easy to use, and you can wear it on other joints.

    Best Value for Money: PentagonFit Knee Sleeve

    Durable, high-quality compression sleeve at an affordable price. With several sizes and colors to choose from.

    Best for Chronic Knee Pain: Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers & Patella Gel Pads

    A wraparound brace with stabilizers. It lets you customize the level of compression to help in day-to-day knee issues.

    Best for Ligament Injuries: DonJoy Performance Bionic Fullstop

    A slip-up hinged brace that prevents hyperextension. It protects your knee at every angle while allowing full range of movement.

    Best for Patellar Tendonitis: IPOW Knee Strap

    A comfortable strap to reduce knee pain below your patella. Minimalist design, variety of colors, and extremely comfortable.