Should I Wear a Knee Brace While Hiking?

It’s evident that hiking is strenuous on the knees. The uneven terrain, rocky surfaces, and uphill climbs can affect your joints, muscles, and ligaments. If you’re an avid hiker or adventure seeker who experiences knee pain while on the trail, you may wonder if it’s best to wear a knee brace while you hike to ease the stress on your body. In this article, we will walk you through the benefits of wearing a knee brace while hiking, who they are right for, and help you find the most suitable solution.

Is Knee Pain Common While Hiking?

Short answer, yes. One study suggested that 50% of hiking injuries were sprained and strained knees, ankles, and back muscles. Even if you’re active, healthy, and spending every weekend on the trail, you are still susceptible to knee pain or injury, especially considering our knee joints carry a large majority of our body weight. When you’re walking on a hike filled with inclines and uneven terrain, it can lead to the development of knee pain. If left untreated, this can lead to injuries in the future.

Who Should Wear a Knee Brace While Hiking?

Knee braces are designed for anyone who wants to prevent or treat pain or injuries while hiking or performing other activities. Pre-existing pain is not a prerequisite to using a knee brace or support. Quality knee braces such as an unloader knee brace are designed to redistribute weight and pressure, providing preventative support to anyone who is frequently active or consistently spending a long time on their feet. If you are unsure as to whether a knee brace is right for you, speak with your doctor.

Benefits of Wearing a Knee Brace While Hiking

There are many benefits that wearing a knee brace can have. Some of these benefits may be more useful to some than others, but it is good to understand them all.

Protects the Knees from Injury

A knee brace for hiking can be a preventative measure that helps combat knee pain and shift pressure away from your joints while you hike uphill or downhill. With the right knee brace, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing that your knees are supported every step of the way. Allowing you to enjoy yourself while on and off the trail.

Improves Overall Stability

Research suggests that wearing a knee brace can provide unstable, injured knees with additional support. This is especially true for individuals that suffer from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. With the right knee brace, you can confidently walk on uneven terrain and gain the confidence you need while hiking, so you don’t need to give up your favorite hobbies.

Enhances Performance

If you’re a serious hiker, you want to have the ability to control your movements and not be limited by your injuries. Greater mobility allows you to climb steeper inclines and take on the most demanding hikes. With the right hiking knee brace, you’ll receive the boost you need to tackle these challenges and confidently push yourself out of your comfort zone without risking injury.

Provides Additional Support

Knee braces are designed to give your knee the extra support they need. When you’re hiking downhill, this puts additional stress on your knees and can lead to discomfort. When you’re walking uphill, the cartilage under the kneecap, called chondromalacia patellae, is susceptible to softening and is prone to damage. Rocky or uneven terrain can also lead to pain and discomfort due to missed steps or falls. With the right knee brace, you can receive the additional support you need to conquer the hiking trails with ease.

Increases Comfort

Whether you’re going downhill or uphill – You’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees and the muscles supporting the knee. This isn’t comfortable and can lead to injury down the line. If you aren’t wearing a knee brace, joints, and ligaments can be weakened and may buckle while you’re on the trail.

With a proper knee brace, you can protect yourself from falling or hurting your knees. Even if an injury isn’t at the top of your list of concerns, the comfort, and peace of mind a proper knee brace brings can enhance the experience of any hike.

What Are The Best Knee Supports for Hiking?

When it comes to finding the best knee support, it’s not as straightforward as one might think. Each type of knee brace provides a different level of support for your knees. Knowing the details is crucial to making the best decision for yourself.

Here are three different options to consider.

I. Patella Knee Strap

A knee strap is a lightweight, easy-to-wear strap that wraps below your kneecap. It’s designed to elevate some of the pressure associated with hiking. These light-support knee straps could work for individuals who experience minor pain or discomfort in their lower kneecaps. While a knee strap can be helpful, it lacks the structure and support needed for more seasoned hikers and may fail to adequately protect the knees in certain cases.

II. Knee Sleeves

A knee sleeve is a wearable, lightweight option that won’t get in the way while hiking. They are typically made with nylon or spandex material, making them easy to slip on and off. The downside is most knee sleeves provide very minimal support. If you’re experiencing ongoing pain, you’ll want to speak to your medical provider to find a suitable treatment plan and knee support.

III. Unloader Knee Braces

Unloader knee braces are medical-grade knee braces that help redistribute the weight and take pressure off parts of your knees. This minimizes friction and gives you enhanced support and stability to confidently take on hikes of every intensity. These are the top choice for injured athletes, injured persons, and hikers alike.

There are two types of unloader knee braces to consider: multi-compartmental and uni-compartmental. Multi-compartmental knee braces are designed to shift the weight from all parts of the knee. These are recommended for individuals suffering a serious injury or who are susceptible to injury.

While uni-compartmental only shifts the weight from one compartment of the knee. Both are designed to provide next-level protection and comfort while on the trail. If you need help determining which option suits you and your concerns, talk with your doctor.

Should I Hike with a Knee Brace?

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or looking to hike more frequently, you’ll want a high-quality knee brace to keep your joints supported and protect your knees. Without a knee brace, you can be at risk for serious injury or re-injury. Out of all the options available, a high-quality and durable knee brace is ideal. 

We recommend investing in an unloader knee brace like our Ascender multi-compartmental unloader knee brace for maximum support, comfort, and stability. The Ascender is a comfortable, lightweight knee brace that can unload up to 40 pounds from your knee. It’s custom-fit to improve comfort and stability and give you the confidence to hike and perform strenuous exercises without concern.

If you are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to contact us or see our product page for more info.

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Most braces are covered by insurance and the average cost is under $200!

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