Skiing can be, like most sports, pretty intense on the legs. If you’re not working with a sturdy set of legs and need some extra reinforcement, a knee brace could be just what you need.
Your knees are the two most important joints in your body. Injury to them can harm your capacity to do anything due to the limitations it puts on your movement, and this includes skiing.
This is why it’s important to protect them with the right gear - gear which fits and is comfortable while being supportive.
We’ve written this article with that in mind, taking time to explain why we chose the products in our list and even including a buyers’ guide and FAQ so that you can see what to look for when shopping for knee braces.
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Why it’s Our Top Pick
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We chose the Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression Knee Brace because of its affordability combined with the knee relief, and prevention of the need for future knee relief, that they offer. See how below:
This Shock Doctor product is both preventive and supportive of a large number of pre-existing knee conditions, all for an affordable price.
Dependable bilateral hinge construction with flexible elastane spandex to allow for sports movement.
Tech like the X-Fit strap system to guarantee stability that stops movement up or down the leg, and the N-Tex vented neoprene material which dries and deodorizes the brace.
Best Knee Braces For Skiing - Comparison Table
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Best Knee Braces For Skiing - Reviews
The first product on our list is the aptly named Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression Knee Brace.
This is a great brace for both prevention and cure, if your definition of cure is the support of pre-existing knee conditions.
It allows you to ski with many of the leading knee ailments such as arthritis, hypertension, and ligament sprains, as well as some of the obscurer ones. So how does it achieve its knee support?
This brace is of the hinged knee variety, featuring heavy duty bilateral supports connected by four-way stretch elastane spandex mesh to allow for more movement than firmer braces.
It also has N-Tex vented neoprene as part of its construction to increase airflow and add antimicrobial qualities to the interior climate of the brace, reducing moisture and the bacteria and odors that would be soon to develop from that moisture.
The brace itself will stick to your leg like glue if applied properly. This is thanks to a combination of both their X-Fit strap system and aluminum stays that are anchored by Hypalon sleeves, which work in tandem to make sure this product isn’t giving an inch.
As it says on the Amazon page, if your measurements are at the top end of the size range they’re in then you’ll probably have a better experience with this product by sizing up for comfort if this is the one for you.
The second knee brace on our list is, as the name suggests, geared towards performance, it’s the DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace.
It isn’t bionic though, that part is branding because we’re unfortunately not quite there yet. But that doesn’t mean this product doesn’t have everything you need today; it did get this high on our list after all.
It’s a hinged brace, which just means two sleeves above and below the knee hold the support system on your knee. This product’s bilateral polycentric hinges are good for stopping hyperextension and reducing the instability of the knee that it can cause.
The sleeves of this hinge brace are made of stretch webbing closure which have adjustable TPR pull tabs that make sure this brace is fitted as precise as humanly possible.
It too has perforated neoprene for breathability like number one on this list, but where this product wins out over number one is its choices of color which include a gray camo that can make this brace look subtle and part of any other neutral-colored skiing outfit.
It also has a reflective surface no matter which you pick which helps you to stand out in low-light conditions.
The third is something a little different, but only by a little. It’s the upgraded Fullstop variant of number two’s Bionic Knee Brace.
Why does it have its own entry?
Because it’s a separate product with its own merits and faults, and is much, much pricier compared to the standard Bionic.
It gets its Fullstop name from it’s four-point leverage system in which dampening hinges activate to eliminate the possibility of overextension past 145 degrees.
It does this by training muscle memory in both surgical and non-surgical knees to avoid the knee danger zone beyond 145 degrees.
It fits onto your knee with adjustable straps that can be changed to accommodate the shape of your knee, making this brace a customizable and personalized product.
It also has anti-migration and temperature regulation tech so that the sleeve will stay in place and not get too hot while doing so.
Our advice is to go with this product if you have the means and the motive to go for it, but the reason it’s at the center of our list is because the price will be steep to many.
Our fourth chosen product is the EXOUS Knee Brace Support Protector, a knee brace designed for the runners out there.
This particular knee brace, also called the EX-701, uses a unique four-way compression system that hugs knees from all around, helping to offer lateral and medial support to weak knees.
The unique 4-way compression system 'hugs' your knee from every angle giving lateral and medial support and a sense of real stability for weak knees.
Two dedicated patella straps give patella tendon and jumpers knee pain relief and helps stabilize the kneecap thanks to two dedicated patella straps.
Since it’s made with sports in mind, it’s made of jacquard Lycra which is very comfortable and won’t rub against your skin in an unpleasant way. In the same spirit, it also has a small half-inch comfort gap at the back of the knee so that irritation doesn’t occur due to material scrunching at the back of the knees, and it allows knees to bend the full 90 degrees for maintaining sports performance.
It’s also very affordable, being one of the cheapest entries in this list, and so great for those on a tight budget.
Our final product is the TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support, a brace made to support sportsmen which even mentions skiing as one of this brace’s applications.
It’s the cheapest product by a wide margin and features adjustable and unique bidirectional support so that it can stabilize kneecaps with the help of a four-spring system.
It’s also composed of lightweight neoprene that wicks moisture away from your leg to stop it getting uncomfortably warm.
Built into the neoprene are also non-slip silicone strips so that the brace doesn’t slide up or down your leg when in use.
Best Knee Braces For Skiing - Buyers Guide
How to choose the right knee braces for skiing
Before we get into any specifics to do with knee brace shopping, picking one out should be done with the advice and affirmation of your doctor, especially if you’ve got a pre-existing injury in that region.
Finding the right brace can be tricky since there’s two main reasons you’d wear a knee brace, for recovery purpose or for the prevention of further injury.
There are quite a few different types of knee braces that are designed for different purposes. These include rehabilitative and prophylactic ones that are designed to provide healing support and physiotherapeutic benefits to surgery patients and sports injuries respectively.
They, along with stabilizers and unloaders, are geared more towards catering for the patient’s needs immediately following an injury rather than affording additional protection from one.
For those you’d be best see support braces, knee sleeves and, for more dire cases, doctor-recommended functional braces which protect knees weak from a visit to the doctor’s office or sporting injuries.
Knee sleeves are popular because of how light and sleek they look, they’re subtle in how they look and can be more of a fashion accessory with different designs on them, like leg warmers for your knees.
Slip-on knee sleeves come in sizes usually, so be sure not to go too over or under the dimensions of your leg. The extra lightness that knee sleeves offer can mean a lacking in sturdiness that the usual knee braces have, though they look more clinical, almost tactical depending on the ones you may end up choosing.
Fortunately for you, there’s braces out there that are somewhere between those two extremes which offer security and comfort in equal measure. The two main styles of knee brace are the sleeve-type, which is just slipped over the foot and into place at the knee, and the wraparound types which aren’t fussy in the way they’re applied as long as they are, well, wrapped around.
Wraparounds don’t tend to have the same sizing as knee sleeves, hence why they get prescribed since their wraparound fixture makes them a good ‘one size fits all’ option. If your wraparound is prescription-based, once again contact your doctor since wearing improper knee braces can cause damage to your knees which can, ironically enough, lead to you needing actual, fitting knee braces.
You’ll have to make the choice between open and closed patella knee braces, too. Not sure what a patella is? Imagine your standard wraparound knee brace and you’re probably imagining an open patella one, where there’s a hole on the kneecap itself.
There’s no substantial difference in the protection each offers, because open patella braces are more concerned with breathability to stop sweating and any irritation that causes which could knock you off your game, so it’s largely a preference choice for you to make.
Since you probably have skiing planned, opting for the open patella would not be a bad idea.
Brace measurements need to be specific enough that they fit around your knee, there’s little margin for error here so what it’s best to do is have your measurements taken and ensure that you get the corresponding size.
Size isn’t standardized though, so you’ll need to get the sizing specifications from the corresponding products page, if not their Amazon page then the manufacturer site’s page should definitely have a size chart.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I keep a knee brace warm?
If you’re skiing and hitting those slopes pretty hard, your core body temperature is going to increase anyway, and hopefully warm the brace up for you a bit.
In that case, you face an interesting decision since the physical activity will make your knee braces very warm, but most would get a breathable, open patella brace to air their leg out since many find that warmth uncomfortable.
That would make them colder, which in your case is not what you want, so if you can handle having a clammy knee then a closed patella brace to conserve heat may be your best bet, if an uncomfortable one.
You can layer your clothing too, of course, but there’s only so far you can go with that before it starts to affect your skiing ability, so choose material wisely if you do this.
Can knee braces cause blood clots?
The short and sweet answer is: no, knee braces cannot cause blood clots. Since you’re on this page, we’re assuming that the purpose of these knee braces is to be used on your legs while you’re skiing and getting up to who knows what else in the wintry climes of your favorite skiing resorts.
The logic of knee braces causing blood clots is the same as casts, in which it is the strict immobilization of a large part of your leg that is kept still for long enough that circulation is interfered with, where you can then develop Deep Vein Thrombosis.
A knee brace can theoretically give you blood clots, yes, maybe if you wear it way too tight. It can also cause problems if it is a medical one used in conjunction with doctor-ordered inactivity like bed rest, in which case your doctor will likely suggest non-intensive exercises to ward blood clots away.
Since we’re deep into the subject, there is an increased risk factor of DVT with skiers due to leg injuries making blood clots more likely, which seems to us more reason to wear knee braces for protection’s sake out on the slopes.
With all that said, if you somehow developed Deep Vein Thrombosis while skiing, we’d humbly suggest you’re doing it wrong.