Runners who experience knee injuries can reduce pain
and prevent future injuries by wearing a knee brace

By Jason Zinn

Running is one of the best possible forms of physical activity you can get, and doing it on a regular basis has been found to result in an extensive list of health benefits that seems to keep on growing. It’s great for your cardiovascular health and can reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, it reduces high blood pressure, lowers stress and anxiety levels that will improve mood, and helps control weight, all of which will lead to better overall health. Running has even been found to boost brain performance, improve sleeping habits and may even add years to your life.

Based on these and many other attractive qualities, running has become one of the most popular forms of exercise, as more than 40 million Americans say they run regularly. People who identify as runners range from those who occasionally run a few miles to avid marathon competitors, and the mere fact that so many individuals are running is definitely encouraging. But embedded within this population of runners is also a moderate risk for injury that can get in the way of training, prevent injured runners from returning, and discourage would-be runners from getting started in the first place.

Many runners believe that injuries are an inevitable part of running, and if you look at the numbers, it’s understandable why that mindset is so common. Here are some key facts on running injuries:

  • Approximately 25% of all runners are injured at any given time
  • The area of the body most commonly injured in runners is the knee, followed by the lower leg and Achilles tendon
  • Injuries occur for different reasons in each runner and in some ways the process is still not completely understood, but some possible explanations are:
    • Structural imbalances, such as having one leg longer than the other or too much weakness in a certain muscle group
    • Progressing in training volume or running speeds at too fast of a pace
    • Running on certain types of surfaces or while using improper footwear
  • A minor running injury can easily progress to something much more serious if it’s not treated properly; so despite the fact that injuries are common in runners, they can definitely be prevented by identifying pain before it progresses into an injury and taking appropriate steps to address it

Knee injuries account for about 40% of all running injuries, and usually interfere with training when they occur. But by seeking out treatment, taking it easy and wearing a brace for ongoing issues, future knee problems can be prevented. Below are some common running knee injuries and the role our braces play in treating them:

Jumper’s knee (patellar tendinopathy)
Jumper’s knee can also be referred to as patellar tendinopathy, patellar tendinitis or patellar tendinosis. It results from too much force on the patellar tendon, which attaches the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the top of the shinbone. The main symptoms of jumper’s knee are pain and stiffness at the front or below the patella and/or in the thigh muscles (quadriceps), which often gets worse after exercising.

Patellar instability
Patellar instability is a general term used to describe occasional pain that strikes when it feels like the patella is moving too much or is unstable. This occurs when the patella slides out of place, and if it’s not treated, can cause further injuries like runner’s knee or a knee dislocation. People with patellar instability usually feel pain under, around, or most commonly, in front of the patella.

Runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome)
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or chondromalacia patella—commonly known as runner’s knee – is the most common running injury. Runner’s knee occurs when the patella rubs against the upper leg bone, which causes pain behind or around the patella. This pain is typically felt after running or going up or down stairs. It usually occurs over time and is caused by sudden increases in training.

The importance of wearing a knee brace

Wearing a knee brace following pain or injury is one of the most important parts of the rehabilitation process and is the fastest and safest way to get you back out running again. While rest and physical therapy will help prepare your body for returning to action, wearing a brace is necessary to ensure that this return will go smoothly. At BetterBraces, every brace on our line is designed for a specific purpose, and we proudly offer numerous braces that are ideal for runners recovering from knee injuries. Though each knee brace has unique features that make it more suited for particular injuries, most are crafted to provide better knee stability and more shock absorption. Wearing one of our braces allows you to run with less knee pain, along with the security and confidence of knowing you’re reducing your risk for another knee injury. Below is a selection of some of our best knee braces for runners that we recommend for the knee injuries mentioned in this article:

DonJoy Reaction WEB Knee Brace: this breathable, comfortable brace features a unique elastic web design and flexible hinges for stability and shock absorption; it’s our best brace for pain in the front and center of the knee (anterior knee pain) and is ideal for runner’s knee, jumper’s knee and patellar instability
DonJoy Performance Webtech Short Knee Brace: the silicone web structure on one of our newest braces helps to evenly distribute pressure across the patellar tendons and quadriceps, which stabilizes the patella and ensures proper tracking; this brace is also effective for addressing pain from runner’s knee, jumper’s knee and patellar instability
DonJoy Performance Webtech Knee Strap: another one of our newest models, the two-part, innovative system of this strap provides all day comfort for pain from jumper’s knee; the silicone strap fits with the contours of the knee and it also features a compression-molded back pad to evenly distribute pain-relieving pressure on the patellar tendon
DonJoy Performer Patella Knee Support: with a compressive neoprene support and thigh and calf straps for additional support and compression, this brace is ideal for runners with patellar instability; this brace also features a sewn-in pad for additional patellar support
DonJoy Performance ProForm 4MM Open Patella Knee Sleeve: the unique hexagon-shaped patella opening of this brace provides support and stability to the patella while also allowing the knee to smoothly perform its motions normally

Rest and physical therapy are necessary for proper recovery


Unless pain is severe and/or long lasting, most running knee injuries will heal if a focused course of treatment is followed. After an injury, runners should cut back their mileage and ice their knees regularly or stop running completely if it’s too painful. Along with the wearing a brace and resting, physical therapy is also necessary to alleviate pain and prevent future injuries. We suggest you see your local physical therapist, who will create an individualized treatment program for your injury. For residents in and around the Hudson County, NJ area, Strulowitz & Gargiulo Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation is an experienced leader in physical therapy services for all types of sport-related injuries, and can help you return to running safely and efficiently. Programs will vary based on your condition, but usually consist of compression and/or taping the knee, stretching and strengthening exercises, and advice on how to reduce your risk for future injuries. Contact Strulowitz & Gargiulo Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation at 201-792-3840 to schedule an appointment for any running-related pain you may be experiencing.

Click here for the entire line of knee braces from BetterBraces for running-related knee injuries, but please be advised: we recommend seeing your primary care doctor, a physical therapist or another medical professional for a complete diagnosis and evaluation of your injury first. Only a medical professional can determine the severity of your injury and instruct you on the appropriate course of treatment—including the possible use of a brace—for effective rehabilitation. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

If you’re interested in purchasing a knee brace from BetterBraces and would like some guidance with the selection process, call us at (800) 553-5019 or e-mail us at service@betterbraces.com for assistance from one of our brace experts.

BetterBraces, a DJO Global brand, is the top brand in sports bracing for prevention and therapy. Our products are designed by doctors and athletes to help you get back on your feet and stay active. BetterBraces is the innovative and technological leader in orthopedics. Our ultimate goal is to help you get back on your feet and stay active.

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