To answer the question in simple terms – it depends.
Wearing a cheap, poorly designed generic knee brace for a prolonged period may increase the risk of pain, worsen damage to the knee and possibly lead to the weakening of the joint. This occurs due to poorly sized bracing, cheap materials used to make the brace and or the wrong type of product (a misalignment between product and need or injury).
The human knee is a complex and dynamic joint and well researched, designed and manufactured knee braces do not weaken the muscles but actually help stimulate the surrounding muscles that ultimately assist with supporting the joint. They are also comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and do not overheat or slip whilst being active.
Identifying the type and size of brace. How long is too long to wear?
There is a myriad of factors would either inhibit or encourage the recovery of the knee joint and surrounding muscles, and for this reason that the individual must establish an appropriate need for the brace and what level of support is necessary for their circumstances.
When wearing a knee brace, it is important that it is fitted properly. A brace that is too loose could slide down your leg and effectively provide little support. Similarly, if a brace is too tight it may also create problems concerning circulation to your leg or it may pinch nerves. The weakening of the muscles could be attested to the mismatch between type and size of the brace and the need of the user.
Used to provide structural support or pain relief to an injured knee, a knee brace, and its subsequent benefits, fall in to the following four categories. The following recommendations may vary in efficacy based on injury.
These knee braces and compression help prevent injury to your knees during contact sports and high intensity movement
Sports Knee Support
They will keep your knee stable, but they are designed to limit the up-and-down and side-to-side movement of the knee during the rehabilitation process.
GenuTrain OA Knee Brace
GenuTrain S Hinged Knee Support
A simple brace that adds some stability and protection to an injured knee. They may support people who have had a minor knee injury in the past. A functional brace will stabilise the knee and control motion to prevent re-injury.
GenuTrain Knee Brace
To establish which Knee Brace is the best for your circumstance, try out our Knee Brace Selector Quiz
Will my knee be weakened by use of a knee brace?
It is a common misconception that all bracing use will lead to the weakening of surrounding muscles – you may even hear it from therapists. This is simply untrue. Contrary to this simple logic that you can only strengthen muscles without any additional supports, mobilising braces in fact, help stimulate muscle activity and help in the road to recovery – there is less inhibition in muscles, resulting in users being able to do more physical muscle strengthening and thus, the knee joint is strengthened.
Some critics would claim that a weak knee with a strong brace is still a weak knee, but it is due to the stability, support and cushioning that is provided by a brace. Whilst the knee would not be using its natural stabilisers at this time, an injured knee (or an injury prone knee) needs to rest, recover, and re-strengthen, aided by using braces. A painful knee results in lower compliance due to the inability to properly undertake strengthening activities, this is the perfect time to utilise a knee support as an enabling tool to properly conduct rehabilitation.
Although other external factors such as the fit and type of brace may either increase or decrease the efficacy in certain instances, it is not the brace itself that is to blame in these scenarios but the lack of cohesion between the product and the knee.
Best practices for wearing a knee brace
For a successful recovery and to maintain strength after your injury, brace users should consult a physician to discuss which course of action will best suit their needs and whether this should be accompanied by physiotherapy and/or surgery (in more severe cases such as complete PCL and ACL tears). A knee brace should not be the only solution to “treat” or “fix” the injured or recovering area, with the end goal being to create a sense of stability and support through the brace and working in tandem with rehabilitation and strength programming to re-establish the self-stabilisation of the knee.
Wearing a knee brace may be an integral and important aspect after an injury or surgery on your knee, or as a preventative measure when playing sports. Wearing a brace that does not fit properly can delay your recovery or cause more problems. to maximise the chances of the brace aiding your circumstances, understanding that it will not weaken your muscles is the first step!
When considering whether the type and fit of the brace is right for your circumstances, please refer to the sizing videos and product recommendations. For further assistance selecting the right knee related product for your needs, call us on 1300 668 466 or leave us a message on our live chat. We are here to help you relieve your pain!