The effects of a supportive knee brace on leg performance in healthy subjects

Int J Sports Med. 1991 Dec;12(6):577-80. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1024737.


Eight healthy volunteers were fitted with a supportive knee brace (Push Brace 'Heavy') to one knee for a duration of four weeks wherein they were tested before, during and after the application to establish the effect of bracing on performance. The tests consisted of isokinetic strength measurement of knee flexion and extension, 60 meter dash, vertical jump height and a progressive horizontal treadmill test until exhaustion (Vmax) with determination of oxygen uptake, heart rate and plasma lactate concentration. Wearing the brace for one day, the performance indicators showed a decline compared with the test before application (base values). Sprint time was 4% longer (p less than 0.01) and Vmax 6% slower (p less than 0.01). Peak torque of knee flexion at 60 and 240 deg.sec-1 was 6% (p less than 0.05) respectively 9% (p less than 0.05) less. Peak extension torque at 60 deg.sec-1 was 9% less (p less than 0.05). While wearing the brace for four weeks, the test performances were practically identical to their base values. After removal of the brace, all test parameters were statistically similar to the base values. Heart rate at submaximal exercise levels was even lower (p less than 0.05). In conclusion, performance in sports with test-like exercise patterns is not affected by the brace tested. Bracing does not "weaken the knee" as it is widely believed in sports practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Braces*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Joint Instability / rehabilitation
  • Knee Injuries / prevention & control
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Sports