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Yeah, your knees. It’s an old bowling injury. Maybe arthritis, but you sure don’t want to admit it. Whatever the reason, you’re thinking (or maybe the doc is suggesting) a knee brace or sleeve might be a good idea. Today’s sleeves are sleek, sometimes colorful and definitely way more cool than those of a generation ago. There are a variety of open and closed knee supports, some with additional stabilizing features. Here are three factors to help you decide which might be right for you.

Use

This neoprene brace features an open-patella design, with velcro-based adjustable supports providing greater flexibility in use. Bracoo

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If power lifting or treadmilling is the plan, you’ll need different support than if you’re planning a basketball comeback. Mobility and support will vary with the knee sleeve. Choose one that works best for how you plan to use it. Be sure to measure for the right size.

Material

Knee sleeves like this one feature anti-slip construction material (nylon, latex and spandex) and come in a variety of color options. Cambivo

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The material with which your brace is made determines your comfort as well as support. Durability, breathability, moisture-handling and ease of cleaning are related to the construction material, as is how well it stays in place. Many sleeves are made of neoprene, which offers flexibility as well as support.

Reviews

Great reviews for this knee sleeve are a good indication of quality. Be sure to check how the reviewer is using the brace to make sure its right for you. UFlex Athletics

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Depending on your activity, compression around major joints like your knees can be a good thing and help you improve your performance by reinforcing your muscles and movements. That said, don’t cinch a brace too tight around your leg thinking you’re doing yourself a favor because you might actually be limiting your circulation, which can cause injury when you release the pressure. Try to find a balance between feeling like you have a strong knee and not losing feeling in your leg from the knee down.

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