Best Basketball Knee Braces
Injuries are an inherent risk to most forms of physical activity and sport. The knee is a commonly injured area of the body, particularly in sports where players are constantly changing direction, stopping suddenly, and jumping, like basketball.
In fact, inflammation of the knee is one of the most common injuries in the NBA and about 25% of games missed during a season are due to knee sprains and inflammation. Chronic injuries, like tendonitis, are those that result from repeated stress to the knee. Other more serious injuries, like sprains and tears of the meniscus, ACL, and MCL can mean long recovery periods, rehabilitation, and surgery.
A 2011 study found that knee injuries in young athletes are on the rise, particularly ACL and meniscus tears. One of the best ways to prevent injury, avoid further aggravating an injury or to help with recovery following injury or after surgery is a knee brace. Before picking the best basketball knee brace it’s important to understand the different types of knee injuries and how a brace can help.
Review of Basketball Knee Braces
Below you will find our Top 5 picks for the best knee braces for basketball. Every injury is unique and personal to the individual who experienced it, and therefore, these should be considered general guidelines to help with your own informed decision. Hopefully our reviews will make it easier for you to make a selection for whichever basketball knee brace that you choose. If you're looking for good ankle brace for basketball instead, check out our review of the Steph Curry Ankle Brace.
The McDavid 422 knee brace can fit either knee and has an extra long sleeve. The hinges at the knee provide superior support and protection. At only 2 lbs, this brace won’t feel heavy and slow you down during activity. Due to the fact that this product isn’t too expensive, most customers find it to be one of the best braces for your money.
The sturdy design means that you’ll get extra support compared to a neoprene brace. The extra long sleeve and the adjustability means that accurately sizing of this brace is important, but small adjustments can be made to optimize the fit with your knee.
Many people consider this to be one of the classic go-to knee braces for basketball, and while this is the case, it's still worth noting that McDavid does improve on existing braces with time, which continuously helps assure that you're getting one of the best knee braces. For example, recent improvements with this model include wider hinge arms to aid in strength, but they still maintain the nice lightweight design. Also, the bound edges are a really practical feature, as they help prevent skin irritation, and combined with the perforated back panel, these features help increase your level of comfort while wearing the brace.
Overall, this is an excellent value knee brace for basketball that is very well liked by numerous customers. It comes from a highly reliable brand, and its design promotes its all-around ability to stabilize and support the knee during rehab or on the court.
The stiff strapping system of this brace helps limit painful torqueing and movement of the knee. Both over-extension and excessive flexion of the knee are prevented while wearing this brace. This flexion and extension control is also customizable, meaning that you can adjust the brace to your individual liking.
Unlike some other braces, a gel ring surrounds the kneecap to give you that extra support and comfort. This knee brace is very positively reviewed with most customers very happy about the stability and snugness of this product.
Other unique aspects of this basketball knee brace it's the hypo-allergenic, meaning it's made without the use of latex or neoprene. Additionally, the offset hinges reduce pressure directly on the knee joint while still maintaining proper support, which simply helps with the level of comfort. Finally, the strapping system is useful and practical, as it's known to prevent migration and the front closures make it really easy to put on and take off.
Overall, the Bioskin Gladiator Hinged Knee Brace is an excellent knee brace for basketball injuries that require additional knee support during rehabilitation. It's certainly a high-quality brace overall, but the price reflects this as well, so it may not be in everyone's budget. Therefore, if you're looking for great value, we would suggest considering other braces as well like the McDavid brand, but if you want the best overall knee brace for basketball regardless of cost, this is definitely one of the top options.
The Shock Doctor 875 knee brace includes a neoprene sleeve, stretch mesh, aluminum hinges, and 4-way strap system to maximize stability. Although the Shock Doctor is a fairly heavy duty brace, the mesh system allows for comfortable heat ventilation while the vented neoprene provides moisture wicking.
This is an advanced knee brace and can provide support for moderate to major sprains and knee instability. This product is a bit snug at first but should break in with a few days of exercise. Customers who have used this product long-term are happy with the stability it provides without restricting natural movement of the knee brace.
In the case of this basketball knee brace, Shock Doctor has included some recent innovation in the form of their patent-pending X-Fit strap system to help provide strong, yet comfortable, support. The tempered aluminum stability system stays securely anchored with the Hypalon sleeves, and the bilateral support hinges come with a hyperextension stopper and impact absorbing base pads.
Overall, this knee brace is great for basketball and is comparable with the McDavid 422 knee brace that we reviewed above, especially in terms of cost. The main differences in this Shock Doctor knee brace are in the strength and durability, which is known to be top-notch, but it comes at the cost of a slightly heavier and more rugged design. Depending on the nature of your injury, this could be great, or on the other hand it could be a little over-the-top, but in general, this is a great knee brace for basketball. Shock doctor has listed a lot more information on their Amazon page with information specific to different knee injuries, so feel free to check that out as well!
This knee sleeve, made by Nike, is useful for relief from patellar tendonitis. Made of a mix of material including 41% nylon, 21% TPE, 17% polyester, 10% Spandex, and 10% Silicone Lightweight Ariaprene, this sleeve is very lightweight and breathable with minimal skin abrasion.
Some customers have struggled with finding the right size, but with appropriate sizing this is a crowd favorite. The snug fit and mesh design prevents the Nike Pro Combat knee sleeve from sliding around and out of position with heavy sweating or after a long day of movement.
The mesh is strategically places to allow for maximum ventilation in areas that are more likely to produce the most heat and sweat, whereas the lightweight Ariaprene material is used to keep active muscles warm which can help facilitate flexibility and potentially reduce the risk of muscle strain injuries as well, but for the latter, we personally believe this effect would be close to negligible.
Overall, this Nike knee support sleeve provides very little support of the knee joint when compared to more robust braces like all the knee braces we reviewed above. However, if your injury is minor or chronic in nature, and you don't require the additional knee support to protect the collateral ligaments, then this may be a good option. It's also worth considering for injury prevention mainly in regards to patellar tendonitis, which can be more common in jumping sports like basketball.
This is a simple, high-quality patellar tendon brace that helps prevent and limit tendonitis pain and inflammation. The Ipow Patellar Tendon Knee Strap can adjust up to 18 inches meaning that it can work for most sizes of athletes. It is also adjustable to different shapes of knees and the fabric is durable, breathable, and washable.
Although patellar braces can occasionally rub, athletes who have used this product are happy with the soft and lightweight design without sacrificing quality. Ipow also acknowledges that not everyone's knees are exactly the same shape, so they have implemented a segmented fix design which can help adjust the fit to your exact knee shape.
Overall, this is a solid knee strap to provide relief and prevention patellar tendonitis, regardless of the sport. To be clear, this won't provide any support to your actual knee joint and won't protect the ligaments, as it is specifically designed to act on the patellar tendon only. Therefore, if you have a more acute injury to the knee joint, this likely isn't the product for you and a more robust knee brace may be in order. However, if you're simply looking for some additional protection of the patellar tendon without a big beefy design, especially if you're a runner or basketball player, then the Ipow Patellar Tendon Knee Strap is certainly worth considering, especially for the cheap cost.
Common Knee Injuries in Basketball
One of the most common areas of injury is a sprain or tear to the ACL. The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is the ligament that runs from the bone of the upper leg (femur) to the large bone of the lower leg (tibia) and helps stabilize the knee during activity. Common ways of injuring the ACL is a rapid change in direction, stopping quickly, decelerating (slowing down) while running, a collision with another player, and landing awkwardly after a jump.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL):
Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL):
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is another commonly injured part of the knee. The MCL also attaches to the femur and tibia but runs along the outside to prevent you knee from buckling inwards. This means that the MCL can be injured when another players falls on to or hits the outside of your knee. As with other ligaments, the MCL can also be damaged during sudden movements or muscle contractions.
Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligaments (MCL and LCL):
Injuries to ligaments are graded on a scale of 3. Grade 1 sprains is a mild injury where the ligament is stretched but still able to hold your knee stable. A Grade 2 sprain may be referred to as a partial tear and means that the ligament is loose and the knee joint has become unstable. A Grade 3 sprain is when the ligament is severed in two (a complete tear).
If you’ve read or listened to anything about injuries in sport, you’ve probably heard of the meniscus. The menisci are two tough and rubbery pads of cartilage that act as a cushion between the femur and tibia. Meniscal tears are a very common knee injury and can happen at any age. The cause of meniscal tears can be varied; sudden movements and unexpected impacts are common mechanisms. The cartilage that make up the menisci can also degenerate with age and physical activity meaning that smaller and less violent movements and impacts can cause a meniscal tear.
Another area of the knee that can be injured is the patellar tendon. This is the tendon that attaches the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone. In sports that require lots of jumping, like basketball, patellar tendonitis is common but it can also occur in athletes who don’t play these types of sports.
How can braces prevent injury in basketball?
When looking for the best basketball knee brace, it's beneficial to know how and why they prevent further injury. In general, knee braces support the knee joint and surrounding ligaments. A knee brace holds the knee in position, preventing the ligaments from being unnecessarily stressed or strained. For those players at risk of injury or who have had mild injuries and knee pain, knee braces can be used to prevent a more serious injury from occurring.
If you’re recovering from an injury, a knee brace can be one of the best ways to help keep your knee feel secure and give you confidence to get back in to the game. A knee brace for basketball ACL injury is often recommended to players wanting to start playing again after injury. Knee braces are very commonly used following surgery to repair serious damage to the knee. Wearing a knee brace as part of a rehabilitation program with stretching and strengthening exercises can provide the compression and stability needed for the best recovery from injury.
Types of Basketball Knee Braces
There are several different types of knee braces: closed patellar, open patellar, hinged knee braces, and adjustable stabilizing supports. Most knee braces consist of stretchy neoprene or similar material with supporting metal and hinges to guide the knee through regular movement.
The type of knee braces used can depend on several factors: the type and severity of injury, the sport you participate in, your history with other injuries, and your body size. After surgery, the rehabilitative braces used can be quite large and cumbersome. For other less serious injuries a knee compression sleeve might be recommended. Athletes diagnosed with knee tendonitis sometimes wear a smaller brace that wraps around their leg below the kneecap to prevent wearing of the tendon.