Gladton Large, XL, XXL, XXXL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL plus size knee braces

types of knee braces - unloader, rehabilitative, prophylactic

Types of Knee Braces – Their Uses

Even if you intend to purchase a knee brace from another supplier, instead of the Gladton knee brace, we still would like you to learn more about knee brace types so you can make an informed decision regarding the right knee brace type for you or your loved one.


The different types of knee braces can be summarized as the following: Rehabilitative, Functional, Prophylactic and Unloader braces. Although knee sleeves aren’t technically braces, many refer to them as such. Since they are also used widely, we have provided some information about them here as well.


Knee Braces should never cause issues with normal knee function. They should never increase the risk of additional injury. They should enhance not interfere.


Rehabilitative Braces

Typically used in rehabilitation, post-surgery, movement control and sports related injuries.

Rehabilitative knee braces are made to restrict movement of the knee while it is healing, usually following a trauma or surgical treatment. They can safeguard damaged ligaments and manage knee mobility during rehab for injured LCL, ACL, MCL, or PCL, which are all knee ligaments. Knee braces for rehabilitation are usually worn for between two to eight weeks.


You may have noticed injury sufferers using them while also using crutches at the same time, usually just after an injury or surgery. In many cases, they may be considered more rehabilitative than, for example, a splint or cast, simply because they permit room for inflammation, the opportunity to remove the brace to evaluate the knee, and the capability to move in a controlled range of motion.


Rehabilitative knee brace

An example of a rehabilitation knee brace


Rehabilitative braces usually include foam liners that surround the calf, thigh, and knee, together with rigid bars for both sides, and hinges at the knee that are adjustable. But know that this design is not universal, as there are many types of designs of rehabilitative braces out there which, even though they may look different, are still built with the same types of benefits in mind. If you search the Internet, you will likely find many designs available, with varying number of straps. 


So how can you tell which rehabilitative braces are right for you? Assuming you already know what you need, you need to inform the seller about your need as well as ask the seller questions to confirm that you are getting is indeed a proper rehabilitative knee brace, as these are often sold off-the-shelf. 


Whatever you end up getting, know that your rehabilitative knee brace should be adjustable in dimensions.


Functional Braces

Functional knee braces are also commonly used for rehabilitation and post operation recovery. They are typically also used for for sports activities and protecting the knee against injuries. An example of a functional knee brace is the Gladton knee brace.


Functional knee braces are used not only to provide support and pain relief for the healing of knee injury such as meniscus tear, ACL, MCL and LCL, they also offer protection and stability for the knee during sports activities. How?


For people who work out or carry out other physical activities such as running, basketball, judo, jogging, biking, hiking, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, walking, some lifting, etc., a functional knee brace provides protection for the knee, thereby reducing, if not eliminating, the chances for injury. It stabilizes the knee and provides cushioning, which guards against injury to the knee ligaments. 



Gladton knee brace

The Gladton knee brace is an example of a functional knee brace


And for people that have knee injury, a functional knee brace can help provide support for the healing process as well as the relief of pain. How does a functional knee brace provide support for healing?  


When the knee is injured, one of the things that should happen for it to heal faster is for the parts bones and ligaments around the kneecap area to be held in place and secure, without shifting around. Obviously, shifting of the internal area of an injured knee can only aggravate it further. This where a functional knee brace comes into play.


A functional knee brace provides compression and stability to the kneecap area, which helps keep it in place, thereby creating an environment for the healing process to occur. For example, the Gladton knee brace is designed with alternating straps that go in a dual opposite direction so that the user can tighten as desired to provide, even and balanced compression on the knee cap. This together with its in-built stabilizer help keep the knee in place. This is an example of how the design of a functional knee brace can help provide support for healing.  


Functional knee braces may come with or without hinges. Both are good and serve useful purposes. If with hinges, they are usually on the side. The type of injury may dictate what type to get.


For sports activities or ligament injuries such as MCL, ACL, meniscus tear, a functional knee brace without hinges is appropriate, as they are better suited to performing activities with less restriction. Usually, these are bought off the shelf, with no prescription necessary. Just get what you feel is good for you, based on its features.


For severe knee traumas, a knee brace that utilizes a rigid frame with hinges could be more useful. Often times, an off-the-shelf brace can be used as long as they come with good dimensions that fit your knee, unless, of course, your doctor advises a custom fit design.


Functional knee braces are generally made to help protect against knee injury in the first place for people engaged in vigorous activities, or decrease knee instability after an injury has occurred. Also, functional knee braces help prevent injury to other parts of the knee that may not have been affected yet, in addition to creating enhanced stability. 


When getting a functional knee brace, it’s good to go for one with breathable neoprene. This will make it easier to wear over a long period if needed, as some may find wearing a knee brace to be hot and not so comfortable after some time.


A well designed functional knee brace should be included as part of a general knee protection or rehabilitation plan, as it has been proven to benefit those recuperating from knee injuries or surgical treatment.


Prophylactic Braces

Just what is a prophylactic knee brace? Forget it’s medical sounding name, a prophylactic knee brace can simply be described as a knee brace that has hinges. Usually made of adhesive straps, hinges and bars, they are worn to protect the knee from personal injury. And the good part? Even though they may look like unwieldy contraptions, they still provide needed support without hindering movement. types of knee braces

An example of a prophylactic knee brace


They are typically used for sports activities like rugby, hockey, basketball, etc. Using them provides support for ligaments like ACL, LCL and MCL ligaments, which can be injured through high contact sports.  In addition to helping prevent ligament injury, or re-injury, prophylactic Braces reduce strain and help support the cruciate ligaments. As you likely know, the knee is made of many ligaments and tendons which, if unprotected, may suffer serious injuries during contact sports activities. 


Multiple studies have shown that the lack of using prophylactic Braces during sport can double the risk of knee injury. Prophylactic Braces reduce the risk of injury significantly.


And should injury occur, a prophylactic knee brace can be used to provide support during the healing process. 


Unloader Braces

Typically used for knee pain, stability issues, rheumatoid arthritis, and knee osteoarthritis.

Unloader braces often recommended for those people that have medial (inner area) compartment Knee osteoarthritis. These braces relieve stress in the joint by putting tension around the thigh. This forces the knee to bend out from the uncomfortable area. The braces are custom-designed and made of shaped plastic, steel, and foam to limit movements from side to side. They might be ideal for those who are waiting to get knee replacement surgery.


Unloader knee brace

An example of an unloader knee brace


Knee Sleeves

Typically uses for stability, knee pain and to reduce knee strain

Even though technically not a brace for the knee, a knee sleeve is easily one the most everyday type of support worn by sports people and regular exercisers such as joggers, runners, tennis players, and walkers. They offer compression across the knee joint, plus knee stability.


Most Knee sleeves are manufactured from materials like neoprene, drytex, or Polartec, and therefore are the lowest priced form of knee support. Even though you can get knee sleeves at the local store, you ought to still seek advice from your doctor before using one.


Knee sleeve support

The Rubbyn knee sleeve is an example of a knee sleeve support