Neoprene braces are the most popular type of brace on the market. And with their inexpensive price tag, it’s not hard to see why. But, considering the type of material it is and its manufacturing process, neoprene may not make for the best joint support.
WHAT IS A NEOPRENE BRACE?
A neoprene brace is any brace made of neoprene, a synthetic, rubbery material produced through the polymerisation of chloroprene. Due to its heat and moisture-trapping properties, you commonly see it used in wetsuits.
For support, you can get a neoprene brace for your ankle, knee, wrist, and pretty much any other part of your body and would have likely seen them stocked in your local pharmacy. So, if neoprene braces are so popular and versatile, why shouldn’t they be your top pick?
FIRST, NEOPRENE IS NOT VERY BREATHABLE
If you’ve ever worn a wetsuit out of the water, you know it can get hot and sweaty fast. That’s because while neoprene’s heat and moisture trapping properties are great for keeping you warm in cold water, it’s not as suitable for regular wear.
Generally, even with minor sprains and pains, you’ll need to wear a medical brace for multiple hours a day. If your physio also recommends physical activity, you’ll need to wear your brace during that, too. So especially around sweating areas like feet, neoprene braces can get very uncomfortable very quickly.
On top of that, movement and trapped sweat can quickly cause skin irritation and may even lead to dermatitis, a condition where your skin becomes hard, dry, and more prone to injury and infection.
IT’S ALSO HARD TO FIND A GOOD FITTING NEOPRENE BRACE!
The attractive price tag of neoprene braces comes at the cost of a typically cheap manufacturing process. Harsh chemicals, mass production, and non-ergonomic focused cutting and binding mean that a neoprene brace won’t be an exact fit.
Especially for the conservative treatment of injuries, your joints need careful, measured support. Good support means no excess fabric, minimal slipping, and targeted compression, which a mass-produced brace can’t provide. But, knit braces can. Bauerfeind braces, for example, have an extensive sizing system based on measurements taken from over 500,000 different people around the world by our Bodytronic 3D body scanning machines. They feature anatomically contoured splints, viscoelastic pads sewn into key support areas, and knit that compresses injury sites without uncomfortable squeezing at the edges or excess pressure on sensitive areas like crooks and bony protrusions.
Geoff, who purchased a GenuTrain S Hinged Knee Brace, says “comfortable and supportive of the knee joint, much better than neoprene based support.”
ON THAT NOTE, NEOPRENE IS NOT GOOD FOR COMPRESSION
Whilst neoprene is a very flexible material with high tensile strength, there are currently no standards by which neoprene’s compression is measured. A compression level that's too low or too high won’t effectively massage your injured muscles, reduce swelling, or promote good blood flow. And currently, only medical-grade knit can achieve those things.
For example, Bauerfeind braces like the GenuTrain Knee Brace incorporate a flat-knit honeycomb weave that allows for targeted compression in key areas. Basically, this means that your affected body part will benefit from boosted circulation to speed up the healing process and reduce the production of edemas (the body’s inflammatory agents). It also means muscular stabilisation for improved mobility and reduced risk of re-injury.
GenuTrain Knee Brace
NEOPRENE BRACES ARE HARD TO WASH
As we mentioned, neoprene is in the rubber family and is very effective at trapping moisture and heat. These two characteristics combined mean washing it won’t be easy. First, neoprene isn't always machine wash friendly. And second, if you Google how to wash a neoprene brace, the advice ranges from leaving it to soak in a bucket of soapy water to rubbing it with essential oils and vinegar. Because even with rigorous hand washing, people often complain that they couldn’t get the smell out.
SO, OPT FOR A KNIT BRACE
With rigorous compression testing, detailed sizing guides, breathable fabric, and scientifically proven effectiveness, shop Bauerfeind’s range of braces to get the best support for your joints.
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If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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