What to Look for in the Best Knee Brace for ACL Recovery

Did you know that approximately 400,000 ACL tears occur every year in the United States? This places it as one of the most common orthopedic surgeries and conditio...

Did you know that approximately 400,000 ACL tears occur every year in the United States? This places it as one of the most common orthopedic surgeries and conditions nationwide

Whether you or someone you know is having an ACL reconstruction done, it is important to know that a proper brace is a mandatory component of healing. If you are still waiting on surgery it is even best to wear one pre-operatively to minimize complications.

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly common to approach an ACL tear conservatively. Many factors go into the decision to manage an ACL tear operatively or non-operatively.

For those opting to attempt rehab without surgery the use of a good brace is a critical component to allow for knee stability while building strength. 

But what is the best knee brace for ACL recovery? What are its characteristics?

Find out more in this guide.

ACL Surgery Overview

ACL surgery is performed to rebuild the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This ligament is one of the major ligaments in the knee, connecting the shinbone to the thigh bone to help stabilize the knee joint. 

A torn ACL is one of the common knee injuries in sports where the athletes do excessive amounts of pivoting or sudden changes. They can also occur from falls or other accidents such as a collision while skiing.

A leg after the ACL surgery.

The surgery reconstructs the ligament. There are many different approaches to this including using a cadaver graft or a tendon from your own body (commonly the patellar tendon, hamstring tendon, or quadriceps tendon)

Recovery after the surgery can be long and difficult, as the soft tissue healing time for a ligament can be a year-long process or more. Recovery also requires rest, weight-bearing limitations, knee braces, and physical therapy.

The duration of your rest, physical therapy, and weight-bearing limit will depend on the procedure and your doctor’s instructions. So, we’ll focus solely on the knee brace aspect. 

Why Should You Wear a Knee Brace After ACL Surgery or an ACL tear?

Knee braces are commonly used after ACL injuries for two primary reasons: (1) to limit the knee joint's movement and (2) to improve recovery.

The patient usually relies on a hinged knee brace in the first period regardless of whether you are opting for surgery or managing this conservatively.

Hinged knee braces safeguard the newly reconstructed ligament from awkward or sudden knee movement that could jeopardize the surgery.

Additionally, the quadriceps muscle may become impaired or inactive and the hinged knee brace can prevent the knee from buckling during weight bearing.

Once the physician allows the patient to remove the hinged brace, they usually instruct them to wear a less bulky but still supportive brace. 

These braces are often made from unique fabrics designed to improve blood flow to the surgical site, leading to better healing. 

Characteristics of the Best Knee Brace for ACL Recovery

It’s hard to pinpoint a singular product and regard it as the best knee brace for ACL recovery. However, you should look for a brace that can improve the blood supply to the region, be comfortable enough to wear for extended periods, and keep the surgical site dry. 

Also, it’s paramount that the knee brace not be overly compressive (sports grade), as this can restrict blood flow if worn for long durations; they’re only designed for active usage during sports. 

These characteristics are present in the Thermo™ Lite Recovery Knee Sleeve. Here’s how it can help you recover after ACL surgery or injury:

1. Improved Blood Supply

The Thermo™ Lite Recovery Knee Sleeve provides gentle compression over the affected knee. The compression is enough to stimulate increased blood flow to the area without causing knee pain, tingling, or numbness.

The sleeve is made from recycled polyester, combed cotton, recycled spandex, elastic yarn, and "Black Diamond" bamboo charcoal. 

Upon being warmed up by your body heat, bamboo charcoal emits infrared rays, which increase your cellular energy and activate your cells. This accelerates the speed of your blood circulation and boosts metabolism, leading to improved healing. 

2. Reduced Pain

Pain is common after an ACL surgery or injury. If you opt for the Thermo™ Lite Recovery Knee Sleeve, you can expect up to 62% reduced pain. Less pain will lead to less guarding and the trickle-down of this is a faster recovery.

Bamboo charcoal also reduces static build-up to prevent sudden and painful electric sparks that can occur when wearing or removing sleeves. That’s because black diamond is a conductive material, so it maintains a balanced charge within the fabric. 

Note: Even with reduced pain, you should still follow your surgeon’s instructions. Absence of pain doesn’t mean that you’ve fully recovered yet. So, take care not to exert too much effort on your knee because you feel less pain. 

3. Maximum Comfort

The combination of bamboo charcoal, yarn, polyester, and cotton results in a smooth yet well-fitting knee sleeve. 

Since the Thermo™ Lite Knee Sleeve is designed specifically for home recovery, it gives you the option to wear it 24/7, even during sleep.

Keep in mind that the sleeve isn’t for sports and is recommended for indoor usage. However, it can still be worn outdoors as long as heavy exercise isn’t included. 

4. Great Moisture Wicking Capabilities

For surgical patients, an important component of healing is reducing the risk of infection at the surgical site. Keeping the region dry is critical to achieve this goal. As such, a quality knee sleeve or brace should have superior moisture-wicking capabilities.

After all, it wouldn’t make sense for a knee sleeve to get excessively wet if the wearer sweats. 

Thermo™Lite Knee Sleeve not only absorbs moisture but also, thanks to its breathability, has a deodorizing ability to prevent unpleasant smells.

5. Superior Durability

Bamboo charcoal fiber has 3.5 – 4.5 levels of anti-fluff and anti-pilling effect. In other words, it can retain its elastic properties and durability far longer than standard fabrics, like wool, for example.

A woman wearing the best knee brace for ACL recovery - Thermo™Lite Knee Sleeve.

Further, bamboo charcoal is embedded in the fabric, not just coating its surface. Pair that with the fiber’s quick-drying characteristics, and you get a machine-washable sleeve that you can use repeatedly without losing its recovery properties. 

6. Thermal Regulation

Bamboo charcoal is a highly porous material. As such, it acts as an insulator in cold temperatures while retaining heat. 

Based on ITRI test results, bamboo charcoal emits an extra 5°C when exposed to a 500W halogen light for 10 minutes compared to wool. 

In easier words, bamboo charcoal-infused sleeves can keep your knees warmer compared to wool. 

7. Versatility

ACL injuries are not the only conditions where the Thermo™ Lite Knee Sleeve can help you recover. The sleeve can also reduce pain and help you recover in cases of:

  • Patellar or quadriceps tendonitis

  • Knee Osteoarthritis

  • General joint pain

  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome

  • Torn tendons

  • Soft tissue tears

  • Ligament injuries

  • Contusions from trauma

  • Tibial plateau fractures or fibular head fractures

Important Notes to Consider

The Thermo™ Lite Recovery Knee Sleeve may be a reliable product, but it should be used properly to gain its benefits. Please keep the following notes in mind while using it:

  • It will not improve your athletic performance.

  • It will not prevent ACL injuries. While it can improve your blood supply and recovery after the surgery or injury, the Thermo™ Knee Sleeve won’t protect your knees from injuries resulting from faulty movements or trauma.

  • It must not be worn during showers. Despite its excellent moisture-wicking capabilities, the Thermo™ Knee Sleeve will get soaked in water upon submersion or showering.

  • It won’t replace your postoperative hinged custom knee brace. Prescribed hinged braces must be used first according to your surgeon’s instructions. Only when you get permission to remove them can you use the Thermo™ Recovery Knee Sleeve. It is best to discuss with your surgeon and physical therapist when it is appropriate to transition to the Thermo™ Recovery Knee Sleeve.

  • Because of their many benefits, non-compression sleeves can be considered the ultimate tool after an ACL injury. Being able to boost your recovery by wearing a sleeve and resting at home may seem like fiction, but thanks to this technology, now it’s not.

Note: You should ensure that the sizing you choose fits your knee to get the maximum benefit. Refer to this table to learn how to select the most suitable size.

Knee Sleeve Size




12 – 14

30 – 35


14 – 16

35 – 40


16 – 18

40 – 45


18 – 20

45 – 50


20 – 22

50 – 55

Final Words

Non-compression knee sleeves can be valuable tools in speeding up your recovery from an ACL surgery or injury. Their array of benefits, durability, washability, and breathability makes them invaluable to your recovery.

It’s important to pick the best knee brace for ACL recovery and you will find it if you opt for Thermo Recovery Wear.

Browse our collection and speed up your recovery today!


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