Guide To Braces & Supports

Support braces are often used to help heal or treat sports related injuries or falls. And depending on your injury, there are quite a few different types of braces and styles that will cater to specific areas of the body.

But while having a support brace is all well and good, wearing it incorrectly can oftentimes further exacerbate an injury.

And while most braces are self explanatory, there are some that can be a little overly complicated. So I have created this short guide that covers the basics of using all of the different types of support braces.

What follows is a brief summary of every different type of brace and a walk through of the proper way to wear each one.

How To Wear A Back Brace

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Back braces are good for supporting your lower back, and are especially useful when you do a lot of bending and heavy lifting.

​To start, open the brace and bring it around behind your back. The sides of the brace should cover your iliac crest. Your iliac crest is the 2 bones that protrude slightly on your side to make up your pelvis.

​Most braces have Velcro on the front and allow for variable adjustments. Pull these bands forward and attach them to the Velcro. You can add as much as or as little pressure as you desire.

​It is advisable to avoid making the brace to tight, as this will greatly limit your muscle mobility. The muscles in your back are designed to support your lower back, and if you’re brace is to tight you’re not allowing the muscles to do their job correctly, as prolonged use of a back brace can actually cause your muscles to weaken.

How To Wear A Knee Brace

Knee braces come in a variety of shapes and sizes but the three most common are neoprene sleeve, lace/strap, and hinged. Some manufacturers also make “knee straps” as well.

Knee Strap vs. Knee Brace

Knee straps are similar to tennis elbow braces and that they are mostly used for treating mild tendon inflammation. Knee braces on the other hand, are better suited to people who require have a joint injury and need to take the weight off of the affected area. Most knee braces apply compression or have hinges to compensate for a weakened joint. In other words, knee straps are for tendons and braces are for joints.

Proper use of knee braces is easy: regardless of the type of brace you have, they all follow pretty much the same principle and should fit in a similar manner.

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Start by placing your leg on a raised surface. Open the brace if it has straps. Either slide the brace up your leg or wrap it around the top and bottom of the knee joint if it is a lace up style. If you have a strap style brace, wrap it around to the desired compression level. This will ensure a lateral counter force against the injured area.

If you are using a hinged brace, it is important to match the axis and the flexion movement of the hinge of the brace with that of your knee. If the brace is not lined up correctly, it can further injure your knee joint due to improper compression

How To Wear An Ankle Brace

As with knee braces, ankle braces also come in three different varieties. Neoprene sleeves are the most common, and lace/rigid are better suited to people who need a larger amount of support. Here’s a quick rundown on how to use an ASO lace up ankle brace.

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It is best to use an ankle brace over a thick athletic style sock. Slip your foot through the front of the brace with the tongue on top of your foot and ensure that your heel comes through the back of the brace.

Lace up the race, allowing for a least one 1 to 2 ½ inches of separation between each eyelet. If the separation is over 2 ½ inches or under 1 inch, you need to go up or down one size.

If you’re lace up brace has a figure 8 strap, start by taking the inside medial strap up and over the top of your foot, and wrap it under your heel. Attach the top end of the strap to the upper side of your brace. This will usually be the top heel portion.

Do the same with the outside lateral strap. Lift it up and over the top of your foot, wrap it under your heel, and attach the end of it to the upper side of your brace.

Place your foot on the floor and adjust each of these straps as needed.

Note: Some braces even have a top strap, which will wrap around the top of the figure 8 straps to help secure them in place and provide extra compression to the top of the heel.

How To Wear A Tennis Elbow Brace

Elbow braces are most commonly used to treat tennis elbow, which is an inflammation of the tendon surrounding the elbow joint.

These braces may seem fairly self-explanatory; however it is important to wear them in the right area of your elbow to receive the maximum benefit. Here’s how to use them:

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Find the area that is causing you pain, and place your thumb upon it. Slide the brace up so that it is approximately one thumbs length below where the irritation is occurring. If the brace has a Velcro strap, try to avoid wearing the brace to tight as this will cause further irritation. You want the brace to be supportive and not overly tight.

Since the tendon that is connected to your elbow runs all the way down to your wrist, elbow braces can be paired with wrist supports to increase their effectiveness.

How To Wear A Wrist Brace

Wrist braces are splints that are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a swelling of the tissues in the wrist. These tissues then begin to press against the median nerve that runs down the center of your wrist. This pressure often causes intense pain in the hands, fingers, and wrist.

Wrist braces are typically rigid splints that isolate the wrist and limit its range of movement. To wear one you simply slide your hand into the brace and thread your thumb through the main loop of the brace.

However, there are a couple of caveats to wrist braces. Wrist braces should only be worn sparingly throughout the day, and they should not be worn when you are typing. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you wear a wrist brace what you are typing you’ll unconsciously fight against the brace as you type which can further damage the internals of your wrist.

On the other hand, you should wear your wrist brace while you sleep. This is because we tend to contort our wrists into unnatural angles while we sleep. Wearing a brace while you sleep will keep your wrist properly aligned and allow the carpal tunnel nerve to heal.

How To Wear A Shoulder Brace

Shoulder braces are another self-explanatory brace, but I felt I should cover them here nonetheless. Here is a short walk through how I typically put on my EVS and McDavid shoulder braces.

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Start by detaching the main strap that covers the waist TPR strap.

Slide you’re your arm through the armhole.

Fasten the waist TPR strap so that it is behind your back and over your upper waste.

Tighten the arm adjuster to the desired tension.

Some shoulder braces offer additional straps for enhanced stability. These are mostly comprised of Velcro and wrap around the outside of the shoulder brace.

How To Wear A Posture Corrector Brace

Posture correctors are used to pull the shoulders back and can help correct hunched shoulders or kyphosis.

Posture correctors are perhaps the most varied of all support braces. They come in many different shapes and varieties, but the most common one is the O-ring style loop through.

To use these you simply loop the left and right bottom straps through the center ring and place your arms into the loops. Many posture correctors have Velcro straps that you can adjust to determine how much tension you want on your shoulders.

Some posture correctors are a little more complicated however. Braces such as the Befit24 have a wrap around style strapping mechanism that can be really confusing to operate at first glance.

Here’s how to use this style of posture correct:

To begin, start with one loop over your left or right arm. Do the same with the second loop for the opposite shoulder. The two ends of the loop should be at the center of your back. Cross the two ends of the loops over each other and around to the front of your waist. Attach the two loops to the Velcro strap around your waist and adjust to desired intensity.


Well that’s it for most of the major types of braces. Use the tips in this guide to ensure that you’re wearing your brace in the proper fashion, as wearing a brace improperly can often times cause more harm than good.

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