What is a Neoprene Brace?

Bryan Cowing

A neoprene brace is a piece of support gear commonly used on elbows, knees, ribs and other flexible body parts. A neoprene brace may be prescribed by a doctor or a recommended by friend, family member or coach. They are made out of a special rubber material and can be easily purchased online or at a drugstore or sporting goods store. Neoprene braces are a popular option when a part of the body needs both support and flexibility.

An elbow brace is a common type of neoprene brace.
An elbow brace is a common type of neoprene brace.

One common type of neoprene brace is a knee brace. This type of brace often slides over the foot and past the calf muscle before being strapped around the knee cap. In most instances, a neoprene brace for the knee has a hole or opening that allows the kneecap to be exposed. Some common conditions that call for a neoprene knee brace are patellar femoral pain, arthritis, patella tendinitis and chondromalacia.

A person wearing a neoprene rubber knee brace.
A person wearing a neoprene rubber knee brace.

Another common type of neoprene brace is an elbow brace. The two common injuries that benefit from a neoprene elbow brace are hyperextension of the elbow and lateral epicondylitis, which is commonly referred to as tennis elbow. Like a neoprene brace for the knee, an elbow brace slides over the hand and up the arm to settle into place, or it can be strapped around the elbow.

Neoprene braces are not for everyone. People who are much larger or much smaller than the size indicated on the packaging should not wear neoprene braces. Wearing a brace that is too tight can restrict circulation or movement, while one that is loose will not provide enough support. A neoprene brace should not be worn over any type of open wound, rash or abrasion, because the neoprene fibers can irritate the skin and prevent the abrasion from healing.

Neoprene braces are often used for sports events or other sweat-inducing activities, so it is important to know how to properly care for and wash your neoprene brace. First, clean and fill your sink with warm soapy water. Next, allow your brace to soak in the water for 25 to 30 minutes. Scrub the brace gently with your hands, rinse it, and then hang it to dry inside.

While the benefits of using a neoprene brace are apparent and widely studied, there are some precautions to note. Neoprene contains trace amounts of lead, which is toxic to the kidneys and reproductive system. While this warning should be taken seriously, it should also be noted that the small amount of lead in neoprene is not considered substantial enough to cause physical harm. Those with a sensitivity to any of the materials or chemicals in neoprene should avoid using neoprene braces.

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