For many athletes, a knee injury is a constant threat. Whether it is a torn ligament or an injury that required knee surgery, athletes with injured knees may find themselves requiring a knee brace for six weeks or more. Not only is the immobilization that takes them out of the game enough to drive an athlete nuts, but if their knee brace doesn’t properly fit, it can make a knee injury absolutely maddening.
The Dangers of a Poorly Fitted Knee Brace
When a knee brace is too loose, one of the biggest problems is that it will gradually slide down their leg. It may happen slowly throughout the day, but while it is sliding around, the brace is not providing adequate support and may cause blisters on the skin.
However, this doesn’t mean that the brace should be bound as tight as possible either. When a knee brace is too tight, it may cut off circulation to the lower leg or result in more pain from pinched nerves. If the brace is too tight, it will result in discoloration, swelling, numbness, or tingling in the leg.
While being either too loose or too tight each has their own dangers for a healing knee, the biggest danger for athletes is the time and quality of healing that happens with a poorly fitted knee brace. With a poorly fitted brace, not only will a knee injury take exponentially longer to heal, but athletes may not get the quality of healing they would with proper immobilization. Walking on a brace that is too loose may exacerbate the injury, while a brace that is too tight can easily ruin or weaken the joint.
So how do you find that sweet spot between too loose and too tight?
Properly Fitting a Knee Brace
The easiest way to find that proper fitting sweet spot for a knee brace is to consult your physical trainer, but when at home, it is best to consult the size chart that comes with a brace. Using a tape measure, athletes can find out the girth of the knee when measured at the joint. Afterwards, it is simply a matter of looking up the number on the size chart and choosing the right brace.
Each athlete’s knee is a little different, including different knees on the same person. This means that the same athlete may need to get a different knee brace for each knee.
However, for athletes that measured their knee, but still aren’t sure that the brace is fitting properly, the “two finger” method is the easiest way to test it at home.
Follow these steps to test out the “two finger” method:
Put your brace on as you normally would and fasten the straps.
Slide two fingers under the strap.
If those two fingers cannot fit under the strap, the brace is too tight. Loosen the strap slightly and repeat the test again.
If you can slide two fingers under the strap and actually have room to wiggle a third finger in there, then the brace is too loose. Tighten the strap and repeat the test.
This “two finger” test needs to be done from every strap on the knee brace. After it has been completed, athletes will be treated to a properly fitted knee brace. However, if it still doesn’t feel quite right, you will need to consult your doctor of physical therapist.
Of course, even with the best fitting brace, athletes will still need to take the time to heal and strengthen the injured area through physical therapy afterwards for optimum healing. However, athletes need to first focus on getting out of the brace. Contact us today for more information on knee injuries and the best knee braces you can use on them.