How to choose a strap or sleeve for runner’s knee

If you have runner’s knee and think a brace might help, which one should you choose?

Runner’s knee typically refers to irritation on the underside of the kneecap (patella bone). It sometimes includes other painful areas located on the front side of the knee. 

The patella “floats” within a bundle of muscles and tendons, and is at the mercy of their actions. Mile after mile, small imbalances in strength, flexibility, or coordination can create micro-injuries to the patella, and it’s surrounding structures.

Many runners find tendon straps or knee sleeves helpful to reduce the pain of runner’s knee until they can eliminate the underlying imbalance. Both types of compression devices can work, but which one should you try first?

In this video, we go over the tests and how to choose which type of compression device may work best for you.

Try a tendon strap first if you notice: 

  1. Tenderness of the soft tissue below the patella
  2. The Patella Tendon Press Test produces pain

Try a knee sleeve first if you notice:

  1. Tenderness of the soft tissue above or around the patella
  2. The Active Patella Grind Test produces pain

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Questions about knee pain or repeated injuries? Send us your question. We answer every question. 

Disclaimer: We review exercises, products, or treatments that we regularly use and think you might find helpful. However, our videos are for educational purposes only and do not take the place of medical advice by an appropriately licensed healthcare provider. If you experience persistent pain or symptoms, seek advice from a sports medicine professional.