How Do I Choose the Best Shoulder Support Brace?

Kaci Lane Hindman

When choosing a shoulder support brace, consider the amount of support desired and the type of shoulder injury the brace will support. The support level of a shoulder support brace should mainly depend on the injured person's level of mobility and daily tasks during the injury. It is equally important to assess the nature of the injury. Whether the injury occurred due to bad posture, a hurt joint or rotator cuff, or a condition like arthritis should be considered.

Those who require a shoulder support brace may engage in physical therapy as a long-term solution.
Those who require a shoulder support brace may engage in physical therapy as a long-term solution.

Basic support level braces are normally smaller and made out of a stretch fabric. These braces are good for wearing during a normal work day or when sleeping since they are more comfortable than those designed for extra support. Some have a strap that crosses the chest to hold the brace in place; while this is helpful, it might be uncomfortable on women. Many shoulder support braces are made from neoprene, which makes most people sweat. This might not be the best choice of material for wearing a brace all day.

A shoulder support brace may be used to reduce pain.
A shoulder support brace may be used to reduce pain.

Moderate support shoulder braces usually cover more of the shoulder and stretch less. This level of support often works great for athletes. It offers more support than a basic brace, but still allows for an ample amount of movement. Some types of moderate shoulder support brace have built-in heat therapy, or gel packs that can be inserted for either heat or cold treatment.

A shoulder injury may require a brace.
A shoulder injury may require a brace.

High support braces should only be used during recovery from a serious injury in which the shoulder needs to be immobilized. These braces are designed to hold the shoulder in one place to help correct an injury. When worn, the shoulder cannot be used for any type of activity, including everyday tasks.

Posture-related injuries occur mainly from sitting or standing incorrectly over long periods of time. While physical therapy is often the best cure, a posture corrective brace can help in the short term. A posture shoulder support brace is sometimes made with stretch elastic. Less expensive braces are usually more uncomfortable; those with proper padding and wider straps often provide more comfort and support.

If the problem is a joint or rotator cuff injury, look for a shoulder support brace that holds the joint in place. The placement of straps and correct fitting is important as always. With this type of injury, the focus tends to move more toward the extent of the injury and pain. Consider how much mobility is needed in order for the injury to heal. The more severe the injury, the less mobility and more support are needed in a shoulder support brace.

Athletes and older adults alike often suffer from arthritis or "frozen shoulder," where the shoulder may feel stiff after periods of inactivity. Shoulder support braces that incorporate heat therapy help the most in this case because they help improve blood flow. Since the goal is to help the joint loosen up, a brace with basic or moderate support is the best choice.

Athletes often suffer from "frozen shoulder," where the shoulder feels stiff after periods of inactivity.
Athletes often suffer from "frozen shoulder," where the shoulder feels stiff after periods of inactivity.

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Discussion Comments


@spotiche5- I agree with you except in the case of certain types of shoulder tears. Doing certain exercises can actually cause injuries like rotator cuff tears to get worse. This is why it is important to see a doctor to evaluate any shoulder issues before starting an exercise regimen.


If arthritis in the shoulder is the cause of pain and stiffness, doing shoulder exercises will help more than wearing a shoulder support brace. Though arthritis can cause a lot of discomfort that leads someone to try wearing a brace, this decision can actually make the situation worse. This is because motion and staying active is the best remedy for most types of arthritis.

Lifting light weights, doing arm stretches, and moving the shoulders in circular motions several times each day are great remedies for pain from arthritis in the shoulders. These movements keep the shoulders moving, which will help to ease the pain that arthritis causes.


If you become too reliant on a shoulder support brace, this too could cause your shoulder to "freeze." This is why it is important that people with shoulder injuries to follow their doctors' orders, and to never use a shoulder support brace for longer than recommended.

If a patient continues to have shoulder pain after wearing a support brace for the prescribed time, then he or she should consider physical therapy. The exercises and treatments available through physical therapy will help a patient get back his or her range of motion and decrease pain.

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