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Best Knee Braces for Basketball

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best knee braces for basketball

Basketball is a sport that is unbelievably hard on your knees. Just think about it… its high flying, requires quick cuts, starts and stops. If you’re one of the lucky few that was ever able to dunk (not me), you also know of the impact and stress that jumping puts on your knees.

Think about it this way- you are almost always jumping in basketball. From shooting to trying to intercept passes, you’re often leaving your feet. The relentless stopping and starting is also brutal on the knee joint, as deceleration puts a ton of stress on the knee.

While its different for every part of the knee, certain regions take on NINE TIMES your body weight when jumping and landing. Wow.

Personally, I’ve never been much of a basketball player. Even though I love watching it, I didn’t play competitively.

However, in the past couple of years I’ve been playing a lot of pickup and open gym basketball at the Y and in rec leagues, so this is an article that I’ve been really excited to write. When I play pickup, I’ve noticed that with every age, people are wearing knee braces. From the college kids to the grandfathers, more often than not, you see a knee brace.

So I started asking people about the braces they wore, and that information was integral in compiling this list. Without further ado, I present to you the best knee braces for basketball, as chosen by me (and random guys playing basketball at the Y, with some extra information added from NBA players) .

1) Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support

The information from the NBA players I just mentioned takes shape in the form of the Bauerfeind sports knee support. I saw this as this specific brace by Bauerfeind is the officially licenced knee brace of the NBA. Some versions even have the NBA logo stitched onto it!

While this knee brace by Bauerfeind is obviously a favorite of NBA players and thus one of the best knee brace for basketball, I can also personally vouch for how awesome it is.

I’ve been using Bauerfeind products for years, and I am sincere when I say I have never been disappointed. Made in Germany, their “airknit” construction is always fantastic, and they are more durable and “rugged” than the average sleeve, but in the best way possible that is breathable and comfortable.

In terms of the Bauerfeind sports knee support in particular in regards to basketball, its one of the best out there.

There is an extremely comfortable gel pad that surrounds the kneecap (see the pictures) that does wonders for a sport like basketball. Not only does it keep the kneecap in place, but it helps with the dispersal of shock and impact on the knee.

There are also 4 “nubs” on the bottom of this pad that provide massage and targeted pressure to relieve pain- think pain from meniscus injuries, patellar tendonitis, and swelling.

This product is truly one of my favorite ever.

2) Tommie Copper Performance Compression Knee Sleeve

I know I might get some flack in my email for suggesting this, but hear me out.

While I have never personally worn Tommie Copper (yet! I’ve ordered this and its way) some of the guys I play basketball with absolutely swear by their products, and the benefits of copper in general. So does Brett Favre! Remember his commercials for Copper Fit? Maybe it’s just an old guy thing…

Anyway, I’ll come right out and say that the benefits of copper braces and sleeves as a means of reducing pain, swelling, and improving performance is a matter of debate.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that some of the guys I play sports with swear by copper and promise that it helped remove pain from their knees while also providing a good solid compression fit.

So who am I to judge? Studies have found that the placebo effect alone was enough for some people to think that copper works to improve performance and reduce pain, and isn’t a placebo *almost* as good as the real thing?

If nothing else, the Tommie Copper performance compression knee sleeve seems to be extremely well constructed and durable, and a very above average knee sleeve that works tremendously well for basketball. Actually, it’s one of the best pure “sleeves” (not brace) that I’ve seen. If you only really need/want compression, check this product out for sure.

3) DonJoy Bionic Fullstop Knee Brace

Sheesh, this thing is the real deal.

When the words “bionic” and “full stop” are in the name of the brace, you know its nothing to joke about!

I should really write a full review on this brace, which will be coming soon. But for now, enjoy this short snippet on its value for basketball.

Basically, this thing is a beast. If you are having any issues with sprains, instability, or pain for any of the big knee ligaments (ACL, LCL, MCL, PCL) this brace is your guy. Its also great for hyperextension injuries, patella support, and meniscus injuries.

That is why this is such a great brace for basketball, as these are ALL injuries that are extremely common and prevalent in the sport.

Its hinges prevent hyperextension, and also provide “dampening” to lessen the load on the knee ligaments, especially the ACL, which is the ligament that strikes fear into athletes hearts. If you are recovering from an ACL injury or want to prevent one, this is the brace for you.

It’s important to note that this brace is for people playing basketball with pretty serious knee issues- for example, it provides support to the patella. However, so does the Bauerfeind sports knee brace that was first on this list. Only use the amount of support that you need! Your comfort level will go way up if you follow this rule.

Another important recommendation is that I would STRONGLY advise you pair this brace, and braces like it, with Bracelayer knee compression pants. The biggest issue with most braces that aren’t sleeves is that they just won’t STAY UP. Bracelayer solves this problem, which is why its next on the list.

4) Bracelayer KXV pants

Best knee brace for basketball
Bracelayer KXV

Bracelayer is amazing. They are compression pants with vented neoprene knee sleeves built right into them so they never shift or move.

The KXV is the ¾ length version and the bottom part is mesh, which is perfect for basketball as it keeps you cooler and allows you to rock high socks or higher top basketball shoes.

While Bracelayer is great on its own for providing really great compression and stability, they really shine with their ability to keep other knee braces up. Because of the texture of the neoprene sleeve, other knee braces, like the DonJoy Bionic fullstop mentioned above or the DonJoy webbed knee brace mentioned below, won’t slide down your leg while you’re wearing them!

Because your skin is slippery and sweaty and the Bracelayer isn’t, along with the texture and slight bulk, your knee brace won’t move. This ensures that it will actually protect you like it should, rather than sliding down your leg and just annoying you.

If you’re a basketball player and are serious about bracing that knee, I’d at least take a look at this one!

Use code RRB15 for an additional discount :)

5) DonJoy Reaction Web Knee Support (w/compression undersleeve)

This is a really interesting brace that I feel is severely underrated, especially for basketball players.

DonJoy makes awesome braces- they are one of the top companies out there and they have a ton of trust. While some people might let the different design of the DonJoy reaction web knee brace turn them off, just give it a chance!

Sometimes, things that look a little different are just like that because of the useful technology used to design them- that is the case here.

The “web” design that you see works to disperse impact and shock away from the knee when landing and exercising, an invaluable asset for high flying basketball players.

This brace is also extremely lightweight and not bulky at all- you’ll barely even notice it. This is one of those braces that you could even wear all day- use it at the gym, keep it on, and then wear it for your basketball game that night.

It also has a universal fit, so no need worrying about left or right knee.

Like the other DonJoy brace I mentioned above, I would also recommend pairing this with Bracelayer if you are able to keep it in place, but its not the end of the world if you don’t of course 😊

While this is a great brace for minor injuries and pain, don’t expect it to provide the same amount of knee or ligament support as one of the more bulky braces! Definitely use the reaction web knee support if you have mild-moderate knee pain while playing basketball.

Bonus: VKTRY VK Gold Insoles

best knee brace for basketball
VKTRY Insoles

Sorry! This is a bad habit of mine of including things that are NOT knee braces in my lists… so that’s why I included it as a bonus 😊

All basketball players are trying to be more “bouncy,” and this is where VKTRY insoles come in. Not only do they allow you to run faster and jump higher, they are also great for injury prevention.

Check out my full review on them here if this is interesting to you!

They are just so great for basketball I couldn’t leave them off the list.

Final word:

As I said in the beginning, basketball is a great sport (that I’m not great at) which is also super tough on your knees.

From ligament issues to overuse to patella issues, the knee problems that can spring up from basketball are no joke- it’s just the kind of game it is.

So I hope this article was helpful to you in picking out an awesome knee brace, support, or sleeve! Feel free to check out my other articles for my ideas, many of them are awesome for basketball as well!

Until next time!

(All images used with permission)


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