The knee is one of the largest and most important joints in the body.
Therefore, we should make sure we take adequate care of them because, without them, we wouldn’t be able to do much at all.
Ensuring good knee health means protecting them when necessary, minimising wear and tear, as well as making sure they are well supported during activity and recovery from injury.
One way to meet these needs is through stabilising them with a hinged knee brace.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of what a knee brace is, how they work and how they can help you.
We are also going to review the best hinged knee braces:
- Hinged Knee Brace by Vive
- Shock Doctor Maximum Support Knee Brace
- McDavid 422 Knee Brace
- Donjoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace
- Mueller HG80 Hinged Knee Brace
Do You Need a Hinged Knee Brace?
There are many types of knee braces and supports, with each providing its own attributes and qualities:
- Knee Sleeves – Compression knee sleeves are slipped over the knee joint and generally provide the lowest level of support.
- Knee Supports – often wrap around the knee and will have some form of adjustment.
- Hinged Knee Braces – are knee supports with hinges on either side of the knee to help stabilise the knee in its natural flow of motion.
You’ll want to consider a hinged knee brace if you want a little more support than a knee compression sleeve or wrap.
With a greater level of support, a hinged knee brace will better help to reduce knee pain, ensure greater stability of the knee joint, while at the same time protecting against injury.
Furthermore, a hinged knee brace has the added advantage of being able to prevent your knee from hyperextending (extending beyond straight).
Some hinged knee braces will even allow you to set how much flexion you want your knee to be able to experience.
A hinged knee brace is suitable for:
- Knees that have ligament or cartilage problems
- Supporting a weak and unstable knee
- Post-operation recovery
- Helping with knee pain and pain relief
- Improving range of motion
As a general rule of thumb if you want the highest amount of stability for your knee, go with a hinged knee brace over other forms of knee support.
What to Look for in the Best Hinged Knee Braces and Supports
Once you’ve decided that a hinged knee brace is what you need, there are a number of other factors you’ll want to consider before buying one.
The more you are willing to pay the better the quality of hinged brace you’ll get.
The hinged braces that cost more are usually more reliable and stable.
If you are serious about protecting your knee then it is worth spending a bit more to protect such a valuable asset as your knee.
Knee braces are particularly prone to being uncomfortable given that they need to be tight enough to provide good support for your knee.
Sometimes too much tightness can cause it to get very hot and sweaty under the brace.
It’s important to choose a hinged brace that uses a breathable material to offer some ventilation.
Easy to Put On
Knee braces that come with an adjustable strap are quick to put on since all you have to do is place the hinged brace over your knee cap, and then tighten the strap to secure it in place.
There are, however, some hinged knee braces that come in the form of sleeves that you have to put your foot through and slide up your shins and over your knees.
These types of hinged braces may offer more support but can be cumbersome to put on as you need to take your shoes and socks off before you can put it on.
Therefore, your final choice of hinged knee brace will depend on how quickly and conveniently you want to put it on.
Open or Closed Patella
Knee braces will have either open or closed patella support.
A hinged knee brace with an open patella allows for the kneecap to be free of pressure, whilst one with closed support will put pressure on the patella.
If you are specifically looking for patella support, then you may want to look for a knee brace that offers this feature too.
Related: Best patella knee supports
Getting the right size brace for your knee is imperative to ensure the best support and comfortability.
Unfortunately, this can also be the most frustrating areas when purchasing a knee brace.
Different manufacturers have different sizes available as well as their own unique way of measuring what size you need.
Pay attention to their instructions and do not expect the rules of measurement to be the same across manufacturers.
The Best Hinged Knee Braces and Supports
Now that you know what to look for when choosing the best knee hinged knee brace, you can begin to start browsing the options.
Below is the best and most popular hinged knee braces around.
1. Hinged Knee Brace by Vive
This hinged knee brace has a good balance between price and quality, making it a good value buy.
It’s sturdy and should provide adequate support for ligaments and overall stability in the knee making it good at assisting recovery.
People with ACL, MCL and who need patella support will find this knee brace helpful.
It is made of Neoprene, making it good for exercise and everyday use as this type of fabric is light and breathable.
In addition, the hinges can be removed and added to get the amount of support that is right for you.
Some users on Amazon have pointed out that because this brace is a one size fits all, that you may not get as good a fit as if you bought a knee brace that is specific to size.
If you aren’t looking for ‘serious’ knee support and want a standard level brace to wear every day, then this is a viable option
Pros: Affordable and reasonably priced, hinges can be removed or added according to support levels needed, no hassle to measure as one size fits all, 60-day guarantee
Cons: Metal hinges can poke through stitching after time, the ‘one size fits all’ may not result in the perfect fit
2. Shock Doctor Maximum Support Knee Brace
The Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Supporter is a great hinged knee brace that will provide support and recovery from ACL, PCL, patella and meniscus injuries.
It is also helpful in supporting all other knee problems that cause stability issues.
The brace is also designed to be airy to reduce odour, bacteria and prevent moisture from building up.
The biggest issue with the Shock Doctor is that it’s easy to order a size that feels uncomfortable.
It comes in small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large and xxx-large.
If you order the wrong size the brace is pretty unforgiving and you will notice quickly that you ordered the wrong size even if you felt you measured your knee correctly.
If you manage to order the right size and get a snug fit, then the Shock Doctor is a very good brace offering a high level of support and stability for most knee issues.
Pros: A lot of sizes available meaning you should get a good fit, bilateral dual hinges, very sturdy, high level of support
Cons: Easy to order a size that doesn’t fit, reports of stitching coming loose
3. McDavid 422 Knee Brace with Dual Disk Hinges
McDavid produces a vast array of knee braces with one of their most popular models being the 422.
This model is designed to provide protection against moderate to major instabilities but can also be used as a knee brace to wear post-operation.
The support level of the McDavid 422 is one of the highest around given that it is made in the slip-on knee sleeve style as well as having a top and bottom strap on the brace.
One potential downfall of the hinged brace is that it may not be suitable to wear for a full day given that the support is so strong and tight.
If you were to wear it too long you may experience numbness or find the material gets too hot.
In most cases, this brace may be better as a brace to wear during exercise or for short periods, rather than one which is worn all day long.
Pros: Provides lots of support, good quality brace, patella support via padded buttress, prevents hyperextension of the knee
Cons: May not be suitable for all-day wear, this is a knee sleeve brace so may take longer to put on than a wrap-around brace
4. DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace
The Donjoy Performance hinged knee brace is a great option for people looking for a brace to wear while active or during sports.
The brace is specially made to allow the knee to extend and flex freely while maintaining knee stability and is particularly recommended for ligament injuries, damage and joint instability.
The adjustable straps mean that this brace is easy to put on and take off, unlike the ones you have to put your foot in then pull up to your knee.
The big advantage about the Donjoy Performance knee brace is that it is a wrap-around knee brace meaning it is much easier and quicker to put on than the slip-on sleeves like most of the other hinged knee braces in this post.
If you don’t want to have to take off your shoes every time you want to put on your brace then this brace is a good option.
It also provides good support despite being a wrap around knee brace.
Pros: Comfortable and offers very good support, great support to wear for sports, has a pocket for small items, adjustable straps, quick to put on
Cons: A bit more expensive than the other options
5. Mueller HG80 Hinged Knee Brace
The Mueller HG80 is one of the more popular hinged knee braces on the market.
It differs from the majority of knee braces in that it is made with a closed patella, rather than an open patella.
This brace has proven to be comfortable amongst its users as well as being quite airy, unlike many other braces which can become quite hot.
Like a lot of braces, it’s downfall is that you need to make sure you order the right size otherwise it will be an uncomfortable fit.
People looking for the highest level of knee support may find that this brace is lacking and may prefer the ShockDoctor or the Mcdavid.
However, the Mueller brace is a much more airy and comfortable option.
Pros: Comfortable, breathable fabric, great for sports and activity, Long 1-year warranty
Cons: Medium level of support, choosing the right size can be cumbersome and unclear, people with big calves may find it tight to put on
Which is the Best Hinged Knee Brace?
Ultimately there isn’t a straight forward answer to this question as many have their own benefits and drawbacks, as well as people requiring them for different things (all-day-wear vs exercise).
If you are someone looking for the highest level of knee support to use during exercise, then the McDavid, Donjoy Performance or the Shockdoctor may be the best brace for you, with the Shockdoctor maybe edging ahead of the other two due to its high ratings and popularity among its users.
For a medium level of knee support during exercise, the Mueller HG80 is a good option.
The Hinged Knee Brace by Vive is likely to be the best value for money if you are looking for everyday wear.
Whilst it can be used to support the knee during exercise the other options are more suitable for this, however, they cost a little more.
The Mueller could also work well for everyday wear as it is comfortable and the fabric appears to be more breathable than the others.
As we noted earlier, finding a hinged brace that suits you perfectly can take some time and a lot of trial and error.
That being said when you find a suitable hinged brace it can bring a lot of benefits and greatly improve your knee comfortability as you go about your day.