Knee Support Types: 10 Terms You Should Know When Buying

Knee Support Types: 10 Terms You Should Know When Buying

Your knee joint connects your upper leg bone with the lower legs. Just as a hinge moves, it also allows for flexion and extension of the legs. However, the knees, like all body parts, are prone to injury. Common knee problems include sprained ligaments, muscle strains, torn cartilage, or even arthritis. A knee brace is the solution here.


A knee brace is a supporting anchor for your knees, providing joint stability while keeping your knees aligned. It immobilizes the knees and prevents further injury during rehabilitation and recovery.


Knowing what knee braces look like and how different types of knee support are structured will help you choose one if you ever need knee support. Here is a detailed guide to help you!

Fivali Types of Knee Support-Guide

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Knee Support Types Classification

Knee Support Types by Function

Functional knee support types are knee braces built or designed for specific functions. There are four major kinds of knee braces in this category.


Prophylactic Knee Braces

Prophylactic Knee Braces are knee braces worn by athletes or sportsmen as a preventative measure against knee injuries. They protect the knee joint from impact with the ground, sports equipment, or other players. They are ideal for individuals at a high risk of sustaining an MCL injury or a medial collateral ligament injury that results in a stretch or tearing of the knee ligaments.

Fivali Prophylactic Knee Braces-Guide

Functional Knee Braces

The functional knee brace is similar to the prophylactic knee brace but is meant for patients with a ligament injury. Those with a tear in their ligaments through an MCL or ACL injury will get the support they need from a functional knee brace. The functional braces' knee support further prevents rotation following the injury and protects the knees against external loads.

Fivali Functional Knee Brace-Guide


Rehabilitative Knee Braces

Rehabilitative knee support types are meant for recovering from an injury or knee surgery. They help isolate the movements of the knee joints so you do not aggravate your injury or elongate the recovery period. A rehabilitative brace knee support keeps the knees stable while they are healing, easing any pressure over the knees.

Fivali Rehabilitative Brace Knee-Guide


Unloader/Off-loader Knee Braces

An unloader or offloaded knee brace is designed for individuals suffering from arthritis or osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that weakens the cartilage around your knee joints, causing joint pain and stiffness.


An off-loader knee brace works as a powerful pain reliever by realigning the joint and taking pressure off the knees. Its hinges and cushioning pads apply corrective forces to the deteriorating cartilage to relieve arthritis symptoms. It removes pressure from the knee's weaker areas and shifts it towards the other side, which is relatively healthier. This type of knee brace is ideal for those who are suffering from arthritis or are waiting for their knee replacement surgery.


Knee Support Types by Structure


When choosing a knee brace, you will mainly be presented with three structured knee support types. These knee braces differ in the type of ligaments they support. Depending on your injury, your healthcare professional will prescribe the best fit for you accordingly.

Fivali Collection of Knee Support Types-Guide

Lateral Unloader Knee Brace

Lateral knee braces support the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) of the knees. This ligament connects the femur, or thigh bone, to the fibula, or smaller bone in the lower leg. It is meant to support the outer side of the knees.


If you damage the LCL, you might experience swelling or tenderness on the outside of the knees. Some may even hear audible knee clicks and feel looseness of the knee during walking and physical activities.


In such cases, a lateral knee brace can be prescribed. This brace provides support to these damaged ligaments and prevents the knees from collapsing. It also absorbs the impact of everyday activities such as walking or running off the outside of your knees to prevent pain.


Medial Offloading Knee Brace

Medial offloading knee braces are similar to lateral knee braces, but they support the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and are, therefore, sometimes referred to as MCL knee braces.


The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located on the inner side of the knee joint. It connects the end of the thigh bones to the top of the tibia. An MCL injury could look like a stretch or tear of these ligaments, leading to pain, swelling, or strain on the inside of the knees.


Therefore, a medial knee brace will support the medial ligaments on the inside of your knee joint, improving knee movements and preventing joint collapse towards the inside.


Full Coverage Knee Braces

As the name suggests, a full-coverage knee brace is designed to completely cover the affected knee. It wraps around your knee and provides support to the front and inner sides of the knee. These braces are ideal for LCL, ACL, or MCL injuries alike. Their full-coverage design covers the entirety of the knee area, delivering maximum stability and support.


Knee Support Types by Design


Finally, we can categorize knee braces according to their design, each offering varying types of knee support. Here is how these knee support types differ.

Knee Compression Sleeves

Knee sleeves are compression sleeves that slide over the knees, sometimes with padding over the kneecap. They are designed to alleviate pain, reduce inflation, and improve blood flow around the knees. They keep fluid from building up in the knees and reduce swelling in the event of an injury.


These are ideally used by individuals running, exercising, weightlifting, or engaging in sports. Knee sleeves provide warmth and compression and allow users to perform with better control and stability.

Fivali Knee Sleeves-Guide


While knee sleeves are great at offering support and warmth, they do not offer any real benefits to those suffering from arthritis or recovering from surgery. Furthermore, extensive dependence on knee sleeves can lead to muscle atrophy or weakening of the muscles.


Knee Braces

Knee Braces are more advanced devices that stabilize the knee joints. Hinged knee braces also have straps and hinges on either side to hold them in place. These knee braces isolate the knee and minimize movements while offering support against external loads.


Knee braces can be beneficial for those recovering from an injury or surgery. Sudden movements can damage the tissues of the knee joint, further preventing quick recovery. These braces help prevent that. They can also be adjusted to accommodate motions needed for moving around.  


The downside of knee braces is that they can lead to irritation or swelling around the joints if worn for long periods. If you want to use them for a long time, you should look for a well-fitted knee brace with a comfortable and breathable material design.

Fivali Knee Braces-Guide


Knee Straps

Knee Straps are thin bands worn just below the knee joint to reduce strain on the kneecap and surrounding ligaments. They are ideally meant to alleviate kneecap pain, prevent injuries, and relieve patella tendonitis (runner's knee).


On the downside, wearing knee straps for long periods can lead to skin irritation. Furthermore, too much dependency on knee straps can weaken the muscles surrounding the knee joint.


Final Thoughts

Choosing the right knee brace means assessing the available functional and structural varieties. All the knee support types we discussed have structure and functional benefits. Some are even designed to treat specific concerns.

If you are looking for quality knee braces that are breathable, durable, and long-wear-friendly, you should check out FIVALI. The brand provides extensive knee support types, including compression knee sleeves and pain-relieving knee braces. Check out the complete collection of knee support types here.

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