The Ultimate Guide to Braces and Supports

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A Guide To Choosing The Right Back, Neck, Wrist, or Ankle Brace For You

Are you looking for a knee, elbow, ankle, shoulder, back, or wrist brace? Then read on.

Joint injuries and chronic joint pain can be difficult to find the cause but the process of finding the right brace or support for you shouldn’t be. Choosing the right brace or support for your condition helps prevent re-injury, manage the pain, and help your injury heal properly.

That’s what this blog is about. In this blog we’ll discuss all the different types of braces and supports for the major joints in your body. To skip to the brace or support you need just use the table of contents below. Let’s start with the different types of knee braces.

The Ultimate Guide to Right Back, Neck, Wrist, Tennis Elbow, or Ankle Brace

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This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether Back, Neck, Wrist, Tennis Elbow, or Ankle Brace is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation, this session is only to find out if Back, Neck, Wrist, Tennis Elbow, or Ankle Brace can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

About PainHero

If you’re like most you don’t want to wait days or weeks to get treated for your pain. And you don’t want to have to spend your time calling nearby clinics to find the one who can see you the fastest.

That’s where PainHero comes In – Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. 

Our Platform is used by clinics where they post their open appointment times. So you can quickly compare availability and wait times for clinics near you without having to pick up the phone. Then book an appointment within seconds and even see someone that day if you want. So you can get back to doing the things you love faster.

Plus unlike other sites who let anyone on or just rely on google reviews. We hand pick clinics not just based on patient reviews and complaints but how well they perform at getting patients the outcome they really want.

Why PainHero?

Improve the way your body moves so you can continue to do the things you love. PainHero is Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. Our mission is to make it easy for you to find the top clinics in your community. We handpick the top clinics using our 50 point inspection based on patient reviews, complaints, and patient outcomes. 

Whether you’re seeking pain relief or preventative care, you can expect our patient-centric approach to be new and different from any healthcare experience you’ve had before. Perhaps even life-changing.  




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The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Back, Neck, Wrist, Ankle Brace or Support For You

How To Choose The Right
Knee Brace

Just like there are many different knee conditions and injuries. There are many types of knee braces and supports for different purposes.

First there is: 

Rehabilitative Knee Braces

These braces provide support and protect your knee from re-injury while your injury or surgically repaired knee is healing. These knee braces improve mobility and reduce pain while recovering. 

Functional Knee Braces

These are typically what you see athletes wear who are recovering from an ACL injury. This provides added support and stability to the knee. The goal is to allow athletes and regular people to return to functional activities whether that’s sports and just daily activities.

Unloader Braces

This type of brace is commonly used for osteoarthritis sufferers. Where it helps unload the weight from your knee which means take the weight off of the knee joints. Which is especially helpful for those that suffer from bone on bone.

Prophylactic Knee Braces

These knee braces were designed to protect against ligament damage. They can reduce the severity of MCL tears (medial collateral ligament). However there are cons of using this type of brace. One is it can give users an over confident false sense of protection which can cause injuries. You will see many football players wearing this type of brace and it’s not intended for using every day.

Knee Sleeves

These are thinner and less restrictive types of braces that you see many basketball players wear. It helps reduce knee pain. It’s usually made of elastic fabric which is commonly used with osteoarthritis sufferers. Knee sleeves provide compression which can provide a warm sensation to the knee helping with knee pain.

Check out this post from Full Function Rehab & Wellness:

How To Choose The Right Back Brace

There are more back braces and supports available to consumers than ever before, however not all back braces are created equal. Here are some guidelines to use when finding the right brace for your condition.

Back support braces are beneficial after surgery to keep your spine in the correct position for healing. Also for those who had surgery it helps put your spine into correct alignment and reduce spinal compression which is the cause of many different conditions.

It can also be beneficial for those that have these back conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Herniated disc
  • Stenosis

Back braces help limit tiny motions in the spine that can cause the spine to slip out of alignment and compress. This helps ease pain and make daily activities tolerable. 

How a back brace works is it shifts the weight from your back to your abdomen taking the load off of your back. This can reduce muscle tension and back pain.

Also a back brace makes users more aware of their posture by reminding them to correct posture and proper body mechanics.

Here’s how to choose the right one for you.

First you should follow the recommendations of your Physiotherapist or doctor when choosing a back brace. However, here are some general guidelines.

Level of support

Back braces come in different types: rigid, semi-rigid, and flexible.

Rigid types are best used for those who have moderate to severe pain and instability. These can include fractures or health issues caused by accidents.

Flexible types are the most common which helps limit movement and provide compression. These offer much greater freedom and flexibility than rigid back braces.

Semi-rigid combines the best of both worlds. Flexibility for the body and rigid panels surrounding the brace.

Size and Fit

Most back braces come in a one size fits all with an adjustmentable belt to ensure the right fit for you. You can also get custom modded to your body back braces.


The next thing you should take into account when getting a back brace is to get machine washable braces for easier maintenance.


Find out whether Back, Neck, Wrist, Tennis Elbow, or Ankle Brace can help you get back to doing the things you love in life. 

How To Choose The Right Tennis Elbow Brace

Tennis elbow braces are proven to reduce tennis elbow pain and relieve tension. But you need to pick the right brace to have the effect.

Here are some things you should consider when picking the right tennis elbow brace.


You want a brace that is easy to clean. When you play tennis or other games you will sweat a lot so you need to be able to wash the brace without destroying the material. So look for machine washable braces.

Also Is It Stretchable?

This is important because you don’t want the brace too tight on your elbow this prevents mobility especially during tennis or other sport activities. Stretchable tennis elbow braces are less limiting to your joint but provide less support. 

So you need to balance the freedom of movement with the right amount of support you need when looking for a tennis elbow brace.

Also some braces are made of rubber which is an allergy to many people. Rubber increases grip with the skin. 

Tennis elbow courtesy of Aurora Sports Medicine Professionals (Read the caption)

How Well It Fits

Fit is essential when choosing the right brace for you. If it’s too tight it will limit your movement and if it’s too loose it won’t offer enough support. 

Some have velcro straps or no straps. Velcro straps allow you to adjust to the size of your forearm and provide the right fit. However the downside of velcro is it can wear out quickly.

Next is non-velcro braces. These types of braces tend to be sleeves with no straps. They do allow you to adjust the size and pressure.  When using this type of brace it’s important to find the one that is perfect for your forearm size and pain intensity.

Straps vs Sleeves

Tennis elbow braces can be made to wear on your forearm or as a sleeve that covers your elbow. Both can be effective. 

If you want to have maximum mobility then straps are better for you. 

If you want full elbow support then go with the sleeve. This is best for severe pain however it will limit your movement more.

Elbow pain courtesy of Aurora Sports Medicine Professionals (Read the caption)

Common Injuries Successfully Treated with Back, Neck, Wrist, Tennis Elbow, or Ankle Brace

How To Choose The Right Shoulder Brace

Shoulder braces come in all different shapes and sizes. 

Here are the most important factors to consider when searching for a shoulder support brace.

Type of Material

There are 3 types of materials:


Is a lightweight material and flexible so it gives some range of motion. Also it helps airflow to the region.


This is the ideal material for a shoulder compression ice pack.  The reason is it’s very durable and can withstand repetitive stress.  Also helps keep away sweat and condensation.


Is soft on the skin. Is great for elderly patients and someone with very sensitive skin.

Types of Support

Low level Supportive Shoulder:

NeoPrene which is a heat retaining material and gives good compression to the shoulder to help increase blood flow.  This allows for more movement in the shoulder with support.

Mid Level Supportive Shoulder

Similar support to Low Level ones but usually has added straps to add more stability around your shoulder joint.

High Level Supportive Shoulder

This comes with even more straps to give even more support to your shoulder joint.

Try these different raises to help strengthen the upper back and combat rounded shoulders courtesy of Salius Physiotherapy & Osteopathy

How To Choose The Right Ankle Brace

If you’re looking to prevent an ankle injury or recovering from injury an ankle brace can help. It offers support and protection. Not only that it can benefit a wide range of conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, sprains, ankle pain, and plantar fasciitis.

Ankle braces can give you excellent support however if it’s not the right fit or utilizes the wrong material it may be uncomfortable. 

So here are some factors to consider when choosing the right ankle brace for you.

Proper fit 

Ankle braces come in shoes based sizes or ankle circumference. So use a sizing chart to find the right one for you.

Neoprene vs Fabric

Neoprene is a flexible material which offers these benefits. A close fit, support, and heat insulation to help reduce pain. The con is this type of ankle brace doesn’t breathe very well and may be too hot to wear all day.

Fabric and knit materials are much more breathable but don’t offer the same kind of therapeutic heat effect as neoprene.

Types of Ankle Braces

Ankles braces can come in different types like:

Ankle Sleeves  – which can come in Fabric or neoprene. These provide protection combined with compression. These are typically recommended for those with plantar fasciitis, arthritis, tendonitis, or injury. It helps with pain relief, inflammation, and swelling.

Ankle Supports with straps ultize straps over the sleeve for added protection and compression.  This is good for situations where there is a high chance of rolling your ankle like in many sports.

Lace Up Ankle Braces – these are shoelace design braces where you tie them to the tightness you need just like a shoe. They provide the maximum amount of support. Also allow you to customize the right amount of tightness from top to bottom.

How tight should your ankle brace be?

Every athlete has their preferred tightness but generally it should not be too tight where it restricts blood flow or causes pain. The tighter it is the more protection it offers but with less flexibility. So take the time to find the right amount of tightness for your situation.

Ankle injury courtesy of Waterview Physiotherapy & Health Centre (Read the caption)

How To Choose The Right Wrist Brace

Wrist braces protect, stabilize, and support your wrist.  Wrist braces are good for reducing pain, stiffness, and inflammation due to repetitive movements. Typically used for conditions like arthritis or tendonitis.

Plus they can help you recover from injury and surgery.

They do this by keeping your wrist in a neutral position and reducing movements.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a wrist brace.

For sports 

If you need extra support when playing a sport. Look for a wrist brace that is light and flexible. Many athletes choose a wrist sleeve because it provides good support and uses light materials.

If you need additional support look for a heavier brace with adjustable straps. It should be flexible enough to play while also providing enough support.

For Recovery From Injury 

Look for heavier braces. This type of brace immobilizes your wrist joint which means it prevents your wrist from moving. If you have swelling make sure the brace is adjustable to accommodate swelling.  Also, this type of brace is preferred when sleeping to protect your wrist.

For chronic hand or wrist conditions:

It depends on what you need it for. If you have mild symptoms of arthritis, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, tendinopathy of the wrist then you should consider wrist sleeves. There are carpal tunnel wrist brace and wrist brace for tendonitis.

For chronic symptoms of conditions above you need more moderate support. Like braces with adjustment straps to keep your wrist from moving too much.

Now wrist braces are good for managing injuries and pain. However it’s best to see a Physiotherapist to fix the root cause of your pain so you’re not dependent on wearing a wrist brace.

You can use the search box on this page to find a Physiotherapist near you.

Wrist Fracture courtesy of Aurora Sports Medicine Professionals (Read the caption)

How Do I Choose The Right Neck Brace

Choosing the right neck brace depends on the injury you have. For small sprains or minor injuries typically a soft brace is enough to help ease the pain while allowing it to heal properly.

For more serious injuries a rigid back brace is often recommended to keep the neck from moving back and forth and side to side while the neck heals.

Soft braces are normally made of foam and rubber. They are much more comfortable than a rigid brace. However they are only for minor injuries and do not provide enough support for serious injuries.

A hard neck brace provides maximum support and is made from plastic. When fitting a neck brace keep in mind that it should provide just the right amount of pressure to support your head and prevent movements.  But should not be unnecessarily tight. You should feel no pain or discomfort from the neck brace.

If you need help deciding on the right brace for you or you want to find the root cause of your pain so you’re not dependent on a neck brace. Just use the find a clinic near me button on this page to find a physiotherapist near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! A brace will protect your knee while sleeping.

It can give you a false sense of confidence. So once you take the brace off your chance of reinjury increases. Also it can cause muscle imbalances in your knee if you wear it too often because when you have it on some muscles that protect your knee joint are not working as hard.

Yes most knee braces are made to be worn over pants.


Back, Neck, Wrist, Tennis Elbow, or Ankle Brace is one of several possible methods for relieving pain that do not rely on prescription medications and all the side effects and baggage they come with. Not to mention that most drugs can only mask pain, but rarely address root causes. Find a clinic if you are suffering from muscle tightness, soreness, or pain to improve your quality of life, today.