I tried a Cho-Pat Knee Brace this weekend and I am a convert. My knees have been bothering me from carrying too much weight during a long backpacking trip a few weeks ago and I bought the brace right after I got home because I have a few hiking buddies who swear by theirs. They both wear two braces whenever they hike, one for each knee, and I think I’m going to do the same for the immediate future. At $23 per brace this is a good short term solution to keep me on the trail as I work through the underlying problem.
I’ve had knee problems in the past and lots of physical therapy, but I’ve found that strengthening my quadriceps and hamstrings has always resolved my symptoms. There’s no doubt that I have some patellar degeneration at my age (I look my younger than I am), but I’m confident that building up my leg strength will resolve the pain issues. The mistake I made this year was stopping my weightlifting and yoga workouts and focusing on pure cardio instead. That’s already changed. I’m working out with weights again and already seeing an improvement. Flexibility and balance workouts are just around the bend.
The Cho-Pat knee brace makes it possible for me to hike without pain. The top strap eliminated the symptoms of ITB that I’ve been having in my right knee (snapping tendon over the knee) by compressing my thigh muscle above the knee joint. The bottom strap, felt like it helped align my quadriceps muscle with my patella better, lifting it, and reducing internal friction. While my last hike wasn’t pain free, I still managed to make good time over some very large mountains and don’t think I would have made it out of the parking lot without the brace.
This photo shows a closeup of the Cho-Pat brace. It’s made out a Neoprene and encircles your leg fastening in front, using Velco, which let’s you adjust the tightness. After an hour or so, I simply forgot that I was even wearing it. It didn’t constrict my movement in any noticeable way and it also didn’t get hot and sweaty. I wore the brace during an 11 hour, virtually non-stop 16 mile hike without feeling the need to take it off, even during my brief rest stops.
The only downside I experienced all day, were the tan lines from the brace which appeared the next morning!
So if you’re having knee pain while backpacking, which admittedly can be very difficult to localize and isolate, you might want to consider trying a Cho-Pat brace on your next hike. It might provide your knee with a little more internal stability to keep you on the trail without further intervention. Don’t ask me about doctors….I don’t trust them when it comes to knees.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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