How To Measure For Knee Brace | Step-By-Step Tutorial

Measuring the knee for knee braces

You already know which knee brace will be best for your knee injury. Now, how to measure for knee brace? What size do you choose if you’re between sizes?

Knee brace sizing is very straightforward. It’s easier to do with some help, but you can do it on your own.

It’s also important to take accurate measures. This will make the difference between the right knee sleeve for you, or a brace that will be impossible to wear.

So, below, I’ll give you:

  • A tutorial on how to measure your leg for a knee brace.
  • What to do if you’re between sizes.
  • How does a proper fit feel like?
  • What’s the best type of knee support for you?

Knee brace sizing tutorial

First, grab the right tools

You’ll need soft measuring tape for this. It will take your knee measurements accurately. If you don’t have a soft tape measure at home, you can buy one in most craft or department stores.

You can also take the measures with something other than soft tape.

It should be long enough to wrap the circumference of your thigh. Like a rope or an extension cord, for example. You’ll need a magic marker to mark the measurement.

Get into position

To be honest, it will be easier if a medical professional takes the measurements. They know where and how to measure your leg to give you an accurate reading.

If that’s not an option for you, do it with someone else’s help or on your own:

  • If someone’s going to help you, stand as you usually do. Relax your knees a little, they should have a 20-30 degree bend.
  • If you’ll do it on your own, you can also measure the knee brace standing or sitting. This depends on your flexibility and what makes you comfortable.
  • If you have knee pain and can’t stand, take the measurements sitting near the edge of a chair. The injured knee will be straight in front of you, bent 20-30 degrees if possible.

Take the measurements for your knee brace

To take the exact measurements:

  • Measure the circumference of your thigh, 6 inches above your kneecap. Relax your muscles to have an accurate reading.
  • Then, around your knee joint. Make sure it’s bent 20-30 degrees. Take the center of the knee cap as a point of reference.
  • Finally, measure around your calf. Relax those muscles too so you don’t change the real measure.

Write the measurements down and:

Compare your measurements to the size chart

Most brands have different knee brace sizes. To make sure you have the right fit, compare your measurements to the sizing guide of your chosen brand.

If you’re not sure which knee brace you need, decide that first before buying. A physical therapist will recommend the best type of knee support for your current needs.

What happens if you’re between sizes?

For knee sleeves, some brands recommend choosing a smaller size. Sleeves tend to loosen up with time, so yours may last longer.

For knee braces, brands recommend choosing a larger size. This is because you can put something between your knee and the brace to help it fit better. Like a thin sleeve or a DIY garment. (1)

But, it’s best to check the website of the brand directly. Their FAQs usually include what to do if you’re between sizes.

How does a “proper fit” feel like?

It will feel snug. It’s supposed to – otherwise, it wouldn’t be a knee support. But, you should be able to slide two fingers between the brace and your skin.

You shouldn’t feel numbness or tingling down the calf while wearing it. It’s a sign that’s too tight or it’s the wrong size.

The wrong size of knee support will:

  • Loosen quickly and fall down often. It won’t provide the right pressure, so it won’t give you benefits.
  • Or, it will constraint your joint so much you won’t be able to wear it.

Also, it’s important to wear it correctly. Take the time to put it on properly. If not, it won’t stabilize your knee joint either. (3)

Knee braces vs knee sleeves: What’s the best type of knee support for you?

The best type of knee support will adapt to your current needs. There are several types and models to choose from. Each can help your knee heal in different ways:

Wearing knee sleeves can reduce swelling after an injury.

They’re made of a flexible fabric that provides compression and retains heat. This promotes circulation and can reduce inflammation.

Knee sleeves are best for people recovering from mild injuries, like sprains. Or to help your painful knee after a hard workout.

Knee braces bring more support and protection to the knee joint.

Knee braces have metal or plastic hinges. This protects the knee joint from external forces and keeps it stable. That’s why they’re popular in the immediate treatment after surgery.

Some braces restrict movement to let the tissues heal properly. Others include sleeves to compress the joint and reduce swelling.

Athletes sometimes wear knee braces to protect their knees during training. This may reduce the risk of injuries. (4)

Knee straps can reduce mild anterior knee pain

People with runner’s knee and anterior knee pain may feel better after wearing knee straps.

They wrap around the knee joint and compress the tissue below the kneecap. Which, in turn, may reduce pain around the patella during physical activity.

FAQs:

How tight should the brace be?

You should be able to fit two fingers under the brace.

How to measure for hinged knee brace?

Measure the circumference of your thigh, 6 inches above your kneecap. Then, take the measure around your calf, 2 in below the kneecap.

What size knee brace is medium?

This depends on the brand.

The thigh circumference of medium knee braces can range from 18 to 21 in. Check the sizing chart of your chosen brand before buying. This will make sure it’s the right size for you. (1, 2)

Conclusion: How to size for knee brace?

Now you know how to measure leg for knee brace! The process is quick and straightforward. But, it will always be best if you asked your doctor or PT for help.

Knee supports can help in a variety of painful situations. But, remember that they’re aids to recovery. They won’t replace:

  • Proper rest and sleep.
  • A good rehabilitation program adapted to your needs and goals.
  • Eating enough nutrients.
  • Managing your stress levels.

Resources

  1. DJO. “Fitting Knee Braces – Measuring Guide.” Retrieved on August, 2021 from: https://www.djoglobal.eu/en_UK/fitting.html
  2. CEP. “Knee Sleeve & Knee Brace Size Chart.” Retrieved on August, 2021 from: https://www.cepcompression.com/pages/knee-sleeve-knee-brace
  3. Hacker, Steffen P et al. “The effect of knee brace misalignment on the anterior cruciate ligament: An experimental study.” Prosthetics and orthotics international vol. 43,3 (2019): 309-315. doi: 10.1177/0309364618824443
  4. Paluska, S A, and D B Mc Keag. “Knee braces: current evidence and clinical recommendations for their use.” American family physician vol. 61, 2 (2000): 411-8, 423-4