What is a Functional Knee Brace?
Functional knee braces are knee braces, which give support to knees that have already been injured. You will want to use functional knee braces after surgery to help recover and rehabilitate the ligaments inside the knee. In general, knee braces are designed to aid in the recovery of painful or injured knees. Normally knee pain arises from over-exercising (like excessive running, bad form when lifting weights, overexertion, etc.) or from contact sports like football (especially running backs and linemen in particular).
Types of Functional Knee Braces
Normally these braces are fairly consistent with each other in their design. The front of the brace leaves the knee exposed and hinges on the side of the brace to allow bending, but limit the lateral movements. The purpose is because normally knee surgeries are had in order to repair torn or damaged ligaments in the knee. Limiting the side to side movement will prevent future tearing or damage to the knee and help the internal healing process happen faster. However, there are a couple different options when selecting the right brace which mainly depends on how much you want to invest for the amount of comfort. For example, the Post-Op Ligament Knee Brace specializes in MCL injuries and LCL tears. The strap that goes over the thigh will actually change its pressure when you’re walking in order to promote blood circulation (which is how your body heals itself as blood carries all the nutrients). This brace is a good middle ground in terms of cost and comfort.
The Difference Between a Post Op and Prophylactic Knee Brace
Post Op Knee Brace
Obviously, different knee issues require different knee braces for recovery. After ACL surgery (more information on a torn ACL here) a knee brace is recommended to help not only give the knee support but to limit the range of motion that the knee is normally capable of. Limiting the use of the knee will help the ligaments to heal and will limit any additional tearing the muscle might incur if it was not protected. An ACL functional knee brace is the most common knee brace for ACL surgery since it was specifically designed with these ligaments in mind.
Prophylactic Knee Brace
The uses for a Prophylactic knee brace are totally different than an after surgery brace because they are used for preventative purposes, not recovery. ACL tears are common and usually require surgery, which is where a post-op hinged knee brace (or a functional ACL knee brace) would work best. However, prophylactic knee braces are used to prevent those types of knee injuries from every happening. Professional athletes, lineman, powerlifters are the most common types of people use this type of knee brace because of the high risk and intense training. Prophylactic braces can also help reduce the pain that knee arthritis causes. Limiting the motion and having some extra support is always a bonus too.
Knee Braces for Athletics and Sports
Many professional athletes who play high-risk sports (like football, rugby, lacrosse, ping pong) wear this type of knee brace during practice. The primary use is to prevent ACL tears and also MCL Injuries. It could be argued that a brace when performing could limit the mobility of the player and prevent them getting to their peak performance. However, players don’t need to be at their best until its game time, and the purpose of the brace is to limit certain moves to prevent injury. As long as the prophylactic lateral knee brace is the right size and is fitted correctly, there should be no detriment to performance while still maximizing the preventative benefits.
ACL Surgery and the Best Knee Brace
So just to reiterate, there are different styles and types of braces for different knee injuries. Knee braces are primarily used for preventative and rehabilitation purposes. If you go down the preventative route, you probably won’t need to ever buy a knee brace for physical therapy. Normally this type of brace is more of a wrap or compression sleeve and doesn’t include all the expensive hardware associated with a functional ACL knee brace.
However, if you skip the preventative stuff and just happen to tear your ACL and then need surgery, you will probably not only need a therapy brace but will most likely purchase a preventative one in the future (because you’ll never want ACL surgery again and it’s going to be tender for a very long time).
Our recommendation is this osteoarthritis knee brace because it helps promote long-term orthosis (which is defined as the correction of disorders by use of braces to correct alignment or provide support). The adjustable straps allow for you to vary the compression between when you’re resting and walking so you can keep blood flow to the torn ligaments or affected area.