Are copper knee braces worth the extra buck?
Knee pain is a common complaint from runners. Whether it’s the chronic ache from knee osteoarthritis, acute pain from runner’s knee, or pain from an irritated iliotibial band – knee pain can ruin your runs.
Copper knee braces are thought to offer these benefits and more. But are these claims true?
In this guide, we’ll look at:
- What Is the Purpose of Copper Knee Braces?
- Do Copper Knee Braces Work?
- The 5 Best Copper Knee Braces for Running
Let’s get started!
What Is the Purpose of Copper in Knee Braces?
Most over-the-counter knee braces are made from materials that provide some degree of stretch and compression, such as neoprene, silicone, and nylon. However, there are also knee braces with embedded copper fibers.
What is the purpose of the copper?
Although some companies will try to market copper knee braces as providing superior pain relief due to the copper improving ion flow and reducing inflammation, there is little to no evidence to support any pain-relieving benefits of copper in knee braces.
With that said, it’s not all for naught.
Copper functions as an effective antibacterial agent. This means copper knee braces minimize bacterial growth, being more hygienic, and less likely to develop an unpleasant odor as you sweat in them.
Do Copper Knee Braces Work?
Just because the copper itself doesn’t confer additional pain-relieving properties, it doesn’t mean that copper knee braces for running aren’t effective at reducing knee pain.
Plenty of studies have demonstrated the pain-relieving and stability-enhancing benefits of wearing knee braces while running. For example, knee braces can reduce side-to-side motion of your knee, promoting optimal alignment and minimizing abnormal joint stresses.
Another review of 11 studies concluded that soft knee braces have moderate effects on relieving knee pain and improving knee function.
One study found that subjects with knee osteoarthritis experienced an immediate pain-relieving effect from wearing an elastic knee sleeve. Performance on functional tasks involving the knee also improved significantly when wearing the elastic knee sleeves.
A knee brace can be particularly effective for patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), also known as runner’s knee.
This common running injury is characterized by anterior knee pain at, under, or right around the knee cap (patella). The pain is usually exacerbated by activities that load the flexed knee, such as running, hopping, squatting, and ascending stairs.
Research suggests that the causes of runner’s knee are multifactorial and usually related to training errors, malalignment of the knee and/or lower extremity, imbalances in the muscles of the leg, overtraining, and trauma.
Knee braces and knee sleeves have been shown to be effective at reducing the severity of pain associated with runner’s knee. For example, one study found that wearing a medially-directed knee brace resulted in significant pain alleviation relative to just doing physical therapy exercises.
Other studies have found that compression gear can aid recovery after exercise, so there’s a chance that wearing a copper knee brace after running or working out can reduce knee pain, particularly if your knee pain is exacerbated by sore and stiff quadriceps.
In a nutshell, wearing a copper knee brace will give you the benefits of any standard knee brace for running with additional antimicrobial and anti-odor properties.
Of course, if you’re having acute or chronic knee pain, it is best to consult your physician or physical therapist and heed their professional advice in terms of how to best treat your knee. However, in general, wearing a knee brace can be helpful for runners who need extra stability or protection to the knee joint during an acute injury or mild chronic issue.
The 5 Best Copper Knee Braces for Running
Our recommendations for the best copper knee braces for running include the following:
#5: Best Value Copper Knee Brace for Running: Copper Fit Freedom Unisex Knee Compression Sleeve
The Copper Fit Freedom Unisex Knee Compression Sleeve is simple but effective.
It comes in many sizes so that all different body types and sizes can get the right fit. The four-way stretch copper-infused fabric helps the knee brace conform to your leg and stay in place while you run.
The fabric used in the contour construction is durable and holds its shape well – keeping its fit for miles of running for maximum and long-term joint protection and comfort.
#4: Best Copper Knee Brace for Recovery: Copper Fit Unisex Rapid Relief Knee Wrap with Hold/Cold Therapy
Wearing a knee brace running can provide extra stability and support while you run, but knee braces can also be beneficial after the run is over.
The Copper Fit Unisex Adult Rapid Relief Knee Wrap with Hold/Cold Therapy has a gel pack that you can freeze or heat to apply heat or cold therapy to your knee to aid recovery and healing.
The adjustable brace holds the gel pack in place, allowing you to move around while getting your therapeutic treatment in.
#3: Easiest to Clean Copper Knee Brace for Running: Tommie Copper Unisex Performance Knee Sleeve
Tommie Copper Knee Braces are typically seen as the gold standard for copper knee braces for runners. Our pick for the best Tommie brace is the Tommie Copper Unisex Performance Compression Knee Sleeve.
It is made from 86% nylon and 14% spandex for a comfortable, form-fitting compression. This fabric blend is infused with copper, which inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
The brace itself is moisture-wicking, reducing sweat buildup as you run. It is machine washable too, so even if you get it soaked after a long run, you can throw it in the laundry for a quick clean.
#2: Most Supportive Copper Knee Brace for Running: JIUFENTIAN Copper Knee Brace for Knee Pain with Patella Gel Pads and Side Stabilizers
The JIUFENTIAN Copper Knee Brace for Knee Pain with Patella Gel Pads and Side Stabilizers is a bit more robust than Tommy Copper Knee Braces or other common copper knee braces for runners.
The brace is constructed from copper-infused nylon with the addition of patella gel pads and spring stabilizers on both sides of the knee for added support.
The patella gel pad improves patella tracking and keeps the brace in place without rotating around your knee or slipping down as you run. The side stabilizers provide mediolateral stability to the knee, which is good for runners with ligamentous damage.
The brace is 9% copper, much higher than most copper knee braces. Finally, there are latex and silicone grips at the top and bottom of the brace to further prevent slippage during exercise.
#1: Best Copper Knee Brace for Running: NEENCA Copper Knee Sleeves
NEENCA Copper Knee Sleeves are copper-infused knee braces designed for athletes. The fabric provides really snug compression for optimal knee joint support while you run without being overly restrictive of your running stride.
This copper knee brace seems warmer than the others, which may enhance circulation. It is an FDA-cleared medical device made from medical-grade materials. In other words, you’re getting a quality product.