When applied, knee braces compress the soft tissues of the thigh and leg. External compression may abnormally elevate intramuscular pressure beneath the straps of the knee brace, decrease local muscle blood flow and muscular oxygenation, and induce premature muscle fatigue. Functional knee braces may give valuable support to athletes with unstable knees. They may also be a valuable rehabilitative tool in patients following surgery for knee joint instability. However, prophylactic and functional knee braces do not improve performance and may even inhibit performance in asymptomatic athletes. Athletes and coaches should be aware of the serious adverse effects of knee bracing.