Knee hyperextension injuries can create a painful and temporarily debilitating situation for athletes and exercise participants of all levels. The damage from a hyperextended knee can leave a knee feeling unstable and susceptible to repeat hyperextension or dislocations. As a result, many individuals may choose to wear a knee brace to limit hyperextension. A functional knee brace is the type of brace that limits hyperextension.
Knee hyperextension can occur as the result of a fall or direct blow to the knee during sports, exercise or daily activities. A knee hyperextension occurs when excessive force is placed on the knee causing it to bend backwards outside of its normal range of motion. Mayo Clinic indicates knee hyperextension injuries are common in gymnastics, volleyball and basketball. Hyperextension injuries can lead to ligament and cartilage damage along with knee instability. A hyperextended knee can cause pain, swelling, bruising, limited range of motion and instability. Treatment includes rest, immobilization, use of crutches, physical therapy and possible surgical repair.
Functional Knee Braces
Functional knee braces are often given to an individual following a hyperextension of the knee. They allow an individual to return to athletic activity with a reduced risk of re-injuring the knee. They are often marketed as knee braces for individuals returning from injury and for those athletes with knee instability. Functional knee braces are available in custom sizes and pre-sized models. They are made of plastic and foam and are strapped around the thigh and calf muscles. They are often made in a hinge model, which allows for controlled movement of the knee.
Functional knee braces can be placed on a setting that reduces the occurrence of hyperextension of the knee joint. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, placing a functional knee brace on a 10 to 20 degree extension limitation can help reduce knee hyperextension. Functional knee braces are durable and suitable for participation in contact sports -- including football. They offer knee stability while reducing excessive stress placed on the knee during athletic participation. Athletes that use functional knee braces have reported a decrease in pain along with increased confidence and athletic performance.
The American Academy of Family Physicians also reports limitations when it comes to the use of functional knee braces. The hard shell of the functional knee brace can injure other players that come into direct contact with the brace. The American Academy of Family Physicians also reports athletes have to increase their energy expenditure to perform at the top of their game while wearing a functional knee brace.