7 Best Patellar Tendon Straps Reviewed & Tested
Take a look at our in-depth review of the best patellar tendon straps currently available. We’ve done all of the research for you in this complete guide.
To start this post a brief anatomy lesson may be in order. What exactly is a Patellar Tendon? To state it in simple terms: it is a tendon that reaches from the quadriceps muscle in the thigh to include the patella (or kneecap) and attach it to the tibia (the shinbone), providing extension around the knee joint (insert visual?). It’s a big connector of sorts, and it’s at work every single time you take a step.
Its importance cannot be overstated when it comes to running. The unfortunate truth is our knees are such important weight bearing joints that they are relatively easy to injure. Especially when it comes to consistent running. Common injuries that can affect the Patellar Tendon are as follow: Chondromalacia Patellae (or the famous runner’s Knee), Patellar Subluxation, tendon tears, tendon strains, tendonitis, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, Prepatellar bursitis, and bruising. We don’t list these to scare or depress anyone but rather underscore that there are many things that can affect your patellar health. Trying to run or train with some of the above injuries is challenging. Professional medical advice should always be deferred to, but there are some useful aids (such as straps) that can provide a surprising degree of relief and support.
- Mueller Max Knee Strap
- Breathable design
- Easy to use
- McDavid 414 Patella Strap
- Innovative tubular design
7 Best Patellar Tendon Straps
6. Mueller Max
- Upper compression tube targets quadricep muscles to help prevent misalignment
- Breathable mesh fabric on the back for a cushy fit
- Hook-and loop closure adjusts for just the right fit
Best use: Multi-use
Material(s): Latex-free Neoprene, Nylon
Weight: 3 ounces
- Targets both the patellar tendon and quadricep muscles
- Fairly comfortable fit
- Breathable mesh back
- Straps tend to slip some
5. No Limits Sports Strap
- Adjusts from 12-22 inches
- Unisex design
- Tapered straps keep velcro from irritating skin
- Contoured body for an improved fit
- Latex free resistance band included with order
Best use: Multi-sport or daily use (walking, etc)
Material(s): Neoprene, Silicon, Nylon
- Super lightweight
- Not bulky
- Applies just the right amount of pressure
- Mesh lining offers decent airflow
- Only one strap per package
4. McDavid 414
- Designed to fit the left or right knee, versatile
- Innovative tubular, non-slip buttress gets the pressure just right
- Designed to fit most body types
- Customize your fit with an adjustable hook and loop closure
- Designed specifically to help lessen the symptoms of patellar tendonitis (runner’s/jumper’s knee)
Best use: Multi use
Material(s): 100% latex-free 3.2mm diameter neoprene
Weight: 2 ounces
- Latex free
- Adjustable for most body types
- Lightweight, minimal design
- The one size fits all design of the newer version may run a bit small
3. Abco Tech
- Made of neoprene and nylon to prevent scratching or skin irritation
- Adult unisex fitted product
- Absorbs moisture and sweat
- Easy to wash, machine ready
- Velcro Closure
Best use: Running, Hiking, Soccer, Weight Lifting
Material(s): Neoprene, Nylon, Velcro
- For great for either prevention or rehab
- Unisex sizing
- Fairly breathable design
- Machine washable
- Sizing runs smaller than the original version
1. Mueller Jumper’s
- One size fits most, fully adjustable
- Manufactured proudly in the USA
- Maximum pain relief from tubular insert designed to take the load off your knee
- Through the careful application of pressure the Jumper’s strap can improve patellar tracking and elevation
Best use: Multisport
Material(s): Neoprene 80% Nylon 20%
Weight: 1 ounce
- One size fits most, but adjustable
- Several different color choices
- Tubular insert can relieve pain
- Inconsistent sizing
- Segmented fix design adds extra support and allows for customization to specific needs
- Double knotted design, fits up to 18-inch in maximum size
- Built-in high quality flexible slims, reduce pressure and backup your knee
- Breathable, permeable, washes easily, high quality fabric
Best use: Running, Multi
Material(s): Neoprene/ synthetic nylon
Weight: 1.5 ounces
- Segmented design allows customized fit for specific needs
- Sizing is adjustable up to 18 inches (about 45cm)
- Easily washable
- Some find the plastic adjustment loops uncomfortable
7. Pro-Tec Athletics
- Spreads compression evenly to the patellar tendon reducing tension and irritation
- Compression shown to help stabilize your patella, improving its tracking function
- Detailed sizing chart available, sizes are pretty true
- Neoprene strap stays in place with a VELCRO® brand fixture
Best use: Multisports
Material(s): Lightweight Neoprene
Weight: Approximate .5 ounces
- Reduces tension by evenly spreading compression to the patellar tendon
- Helps to improve tracking function
- Neoprene design stays in place pretty well
- Sizing is a bit off
The idea behind a Patellar strap is to provide additional support and compression directly to the tendon itself reducing the stress its under. How it works is that the strap redistributes tension, alleviating stress on the tendon. There is some evidence that a counter-force strap helps keep the Patella and Patellar tendon in proper alignment. These straps are essentially all designed to ergonomically to move with your knee and not restrict movement. There is a little bit of variation to how they are worn but generally speaking they rest just underneath the patella itself. For experienced runners (or anyone with a medical background) this will be extremely basic. For beginners or casual runners we aim to provide a simple primer and some advice regarding different types of straps.
If this post is relevant to you first of all, we’re sorry. But don’t be discouraged, with proper medical treatment, care of your body and a strap there is no reason why patellar issues should keep you out of action.
What is Runner’s Knee?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS for short), got its name for one simple and quite unfortunate reason, it’s very common among runners. The repetitive stress of running (legs hitting the ground) can cause irritation where the kneecap (patella) rests on the thighbone. This can manifest itself in a number of painful ways which to paraphrase Webmd can include:
- Pain behind or around the kneecap
- Pain when you bend the knee
- Pain that’s worse when walking down a slope
- Swelling/inflammation in the kneecap area
- Popping or grinding sensations in the knee, especially while in motion
How to treat Runner’s Knee?
As our disclaimer states we do not provide medical advice on this site, we do however exercise some common sense. A strap can go a long way toward alleviating some of the symptoms listed above. But there are of course many other things you can do and should consider. Some great resources can be found here, here, and here. Or if in doubt seek the advice of a qualified physician.
Are Patellar Tendon Straps effective?
This will always come down to individual experience. An article in the Wall Street Journal explored this issue in some depth. One quote that does a good job of summarizing is seen below:
“They help you continue to function, but they are not the definitive treatment,”-
– Dr. Scott D. Gillogly
The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation of the Best Patellar Tendon Straps
Running is a beautiful sport. As you run through your neighborhood, park, or local trail, you feel like a gazelle, or maybe even a cheetah, sprinting across the open land. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face…. nothing is greater. And then, sometimes, we feel more like we are 115 years old because our joints hurt. One of the most commonly injured joints in runners are the knees, specifically the patellar tendon,, and it can really hamper our training schedules. A patellar tendon strap, however, can be worn to help alleviate some of the pain and get us back on the road or trail in no time.
There is a set of metrics we applied when choosing the patellar tendon straps that made our list. The metrics we used are based on product research and reviews about the straps that are available on the market, as well as questions that are commonly asked about this type over-the-counter remedy. Each of the key factors in creating our list of the best patellar tendon straps is explained below.
It has to provide the right support
There are a two different types of knee straps, and they each provide a unique type of support:
An infra-patellar strap is worn below your knee cap. It applies pressure to the patellar tendon and spreads the pressure, and resulting pain, across a larger portion of your leg so that your tendon is less stressed. It is best suited for conditions that cause knee pain to occur from the kneecap and below.
A supra-pattellar strap is worn above the knee cap, at the bottom of your thigh. In this position, the strap reduces stress related to IT band tightness and the resulting friction and soreness it causes in the knee. It is best suited for conditions that cause knee pain from your kneecap and up your leg.
Both straps do share one thing in common. They both have a proprioceptive effect on the knee joint, which means that they signal the brain that the muscles supporting the knee must be on high alert because extra support and strength is needed in that area. Additionally, the straps can be worn together to address multiple causes of knee pain in a more comfortable and mobile way than wearing a full knee brace would.
It has to stand up to the run
Straps, are, well a pretty basic thing. You securely wrap it around your knee and off you go. However, some knee straps can be used as both infra- and supra- patellar straps, while some are designed to provide only one of these types of support.
A strap that has multiple uses can be a great value, and can adjust to your injury and support needs.
A strap that only functions in one way may provide better support for specific injury.
Another type of use to consider is the physical activity in which you participate. Some straps are designed to accommodate the movements required in multiple sports, while others are specifically designed for individual activities or categories of activities, like running, jumping, or field sports.
It has to stay in place
A knee strap won’t provide you with adequate, or any, support if it isn’t staying where it belongs- around your knee. The ability of a strap to stay in place is really important because an improperly fitting device can actually cause more harm than good. We considered the material used to construct the device as well as its closing mechanism when ranking how well they stay in place.
The weight matters
Runners live for speed, and most things runners use- clothes, gear, shoes- tend to be pretty lightweight so that they aren’t weighed down, and as a result, run more slowly.
The same principal applies to knee straps and other support devices. You don’t want the device to weigh you down and kill your times. A lightweight, supportive, and properly fitted device will take you far (literally!).
Other Important Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Patellar Tendon Strap
There are other details that you should consider when selecting a knee strap to help alleviate knee pain. You should choose a strap that addresses the symptoms you exhibit and what is causing those symptoms.
To help make this decision a little easier, below are some extra features you should consider when shopping for a patellar tendon strap:
These types of devices are made with a variety of materials, including latex. When you are deciding which strap to purchase, make sure to check the materials used to construct the device so you don’t buy one that is going to cause you the additional pain and suffering of an allergic reaction.
- Previous Injuries
Patellar tendon straps that can be purchased at the pharmacy or sporting goods store are not intended for people that have had previous, doctor-treated knee injuries or major knee surgery, like a knee replace or ACL repaired. If you have had a previous, doctor-treated knee injury, it is best to see your doctor or physical therapist to obtain a custom strap that will provide the exact type of support your knee needs, especially considering your previous injury.
Q: For which conditions should I wear a patellar tendon strap?
A: There are a variety of conditions for a which this type of device can be useful. All of them involve having knee pain. Three of the most common conditions for which a strap may be beneficial are described below:
- Patellar tendonitis (also known as “jumper’s knee) is a condition where the patellar tendon, which connects your kneecap to your shinbone, is injured. The initial symptom of this condition is pain between the kneecap and shinbone, especially after physical activity or playing your sport. Eventuallly, the pain may worsen during intense physical activity or occur during daily activities like standing up from a chair or going up a flight of stairs.
- Runner’s knee (formally known as patellofemoral pain syndrome), is when the impact and stress of running causes irritation where the kneecap and thighbone meet. The pain can vary from sharp and sudden to dull and chronic, and can occur only during running, but also during other non-running activities.
- IT Band Syndrome is when the iliotibial band (henceforth IT band syndrom) becomes inflamed or tight because of overuse. It runs down the side of your thigh from your hip to your shin to help stabilize and move your knee, and when it is injured, it causes knee pain because your knee is not properly supported.
Q: What is the difference between a strap that goes under my knee and one that goes above my knee cap?
A: Before we get into the differences, it is important to know that both types of straps have a proprioceptive effect on the knee joint, which means that they signal the brain that the muscles supporting the knee must be on high alert because extra support and strength is needed in that area. The specific support provided by each strap is as follows:
- An infra-patellar strap is worn below your knee cap. It applies pressure to the patellar tendon and spreads the pressure, and resulting pain, across a larger portion of your leg so that your tendon is less stressed.
- A supra-pattellar strap is worn above the knee cap, at the bottom of your thigh. In this position, the strap reduces stress related to IT band tightness and the resulting friction and soreness it causes in the knee.
Q: How do I know if I need an infra or supra patellar strap?
A: The strap you should use depends on the pain you are experiencing. If your pain is occurring from you knee down, an infra-patellar strap is probably your best choice because it is your patellar tendon that needs extra support due to an injury.
If your pain is in your knee but does not go below it, or if associated pain is occuring in your thigh, a supra-patellar strap is most likely what you need because it will support your knee and quadricep muscles, which help stabilize and move the knee.
If you aren’t sure what exactly is causing your knee pain or don’t feel confident in selecting a strap or identifying the area that is affected, your best bet is to schedule an appointment with your physician or physical therapist.
Q: What are the benefits of wearing a patellar strap?
A: Studies have shown that the greatest benefit of wearing either type of knee strap (or both) is that there is improved quadriceps muscle timing imbalances because of a delayed timing of the vastus laterus. This helps address the knee pain you are experiencing by providing better stabilization and support.
Q: Can a patellar strap worsen my condition?
A: It’s not necessarily that wearing this type of device will worsen your condition. It is more that it will not help alleviate your symptoms, which can get worse from not being addressed. If you are wearing an ill-fitting strap or are wearing it inconsistently or incorrectly, it will not address your pain or symptoms. Similarly, if you have had previous knee injuries, it is better to get a load-bearing knee brace as it is better suited to deal with major knee problems. Load bearing braces can be obtained through your doctor or physical therapist, as they are custom made.
Q: I am wearing a strap and still have pain. What is wrong?
A: There are a few possibilities:
You are wearing the strap incorrectly. Make sure you are following the directions that came with the device.
You are not wearing it consistently or when needed. The strap may feel annoying at first when you run, but getting over a little irritation is preferable to running in constant pain.
There may be a more serious issue occurring. If you have adjusted the fit and placement and are wearing the strap when needed but are still in pain, it’s time to see a doctor or specialist.
Here is a list of sources we used when conducting our research on the best patellar tendon straps:
We utilize many different resources while trying to provide the best information to our readers. Some are scholarly or clinical sources, some are information provided by medical and dietary professionals, and some sources are even other sites which may specialize in information that is relevant to our topic.
- Patellar Straps: Are They Effective for Knee Issues? , Informational Fitness Website, ,
- Straps, Braces, and Tape: Should I Wear Them? , Informational Running Website, ,
- Patellar Tendonitis, Informational Health Website, Jun 08, 2015 ,
- 5 Ways You're Making Your Knee Pain Worse, Informational Health Website, Oct 15, 2015 ,