Julia B. asked on the FitFluential Facebook page:
Does anyone on your team have a knee compression they favor? I was hoping to find something to use for some added support while recovering from a minor knee injury. Getting ready to start PT next week and want to have a little extra support during a couple of races I have coming up.
Julia, this is a great question, but the most useful answer will really depend on what your injury is. That could lead to different options being better than others. For example, if you have runner’s knee (patellar-femoral pain syndrome or “PFPS”), many people find relief from straps like a Cho-Pat. If you have IT band pain (ITBS), some people report reduced pain from an IT strap (usually with a little protrusion that goes right on the IT band). While they can reduce pain, these ‘solutions’ don’t do anything to resolve the issue, so PT is absolutely the way to go. In fact, a rule I generally try to follow is to not use bracing as it can create more weaknesses and dependencies while not resolving root causes of injury. You can end up worse off than you began. Taping can help, and can be used during PT or exercises (including races— I ran a 5K with my knee taped for PFPS and ITBS) as it can keep the body aligned while allowing strength building in the proper areas and alignments.
But, putting all of that not-what-you-asked-about stuff aside, I do have a personal favorite for knee stability compression tights, and that’s CW-X. They have several different models in their Expert, Stabilyx and Endurance Generator lines (offered in insulated and non-insulated versions, plus a version with mesh inserts for better venting in warm weather) that include bracing around the knee that frames out the knee cap, and provides a bit more bracing and support without really altering your movement. If you don’t want to go with a full tight (or ¾ tight) option, they also have stand-alone compression sleeves for the knee in their Stabilyx line. If you check out episode 15— “Compression is Key”— of my podcast or YouTube channel, you can see my review of several options, including CW-X Stabilyx tights and why I recommend them.
I posed this question to other experts in my network, and got some other, non-compression thoughts:
1. Lara Winnemore, a personal trainer in Ottowa, Canada (via her @viva_lara Twitter account) recommends the McConnell taping technique for anterior knee pain or PFPS. In her experience, taping can help the body remember movement patterns in proper alignment. But stresses, as I did above, that you need to work on strengthening at the same time (e.g. taping and doing step ups).
2. Dai Manuel, a certified CrossFit coach, COO of Fitness Town and general fitness celebrity and great guy from Vancouver, BC, had this to add:
Hands down RehBand is the best knee support. That’s what I use if I’m using my knee
Dai knows a thing or two about needing good knee support as a very active CrossFitter who also hikes and does Tough Mudders, so I’m sure he puts the RehBand to the test regularly.
3. Marcia Kadens, a Road Runners Club of America certified coach from Chicago, seconded the CW-X recommendation, but added another option, too
Agree with the CW-X. I’ve even worn a Tommie Copper Knee Sleeve under the CW-X.
So, there are definitely some options out there for you to try. Cost-wise, starting with a sleeve like the RehBand or CW-X Stabilyx Sleeve may be the way to go. I would recommend discussing it with your PT so your answer is best suited for your particular knee issues. And good luck with your recovery and those races!
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