Product & Innovation
Why The World Needs A New Knee Brace
We’ve come pretty far in the past 50 years with all the technological advances that have taken place. Think about it. You’re probably reading this on a smartphone or laptop. 50 years ago computers were large, clunky pieces of machinery and the internet didn’t even exist. Same goes for phones which went from the first cordless phone released in 1965 to today where we can use them to access social media, the internet, music, and more.
Technological development continues to advance rapidly with new prototypes, inventions, gadgets, scientific discoveries, and products flooding our feeds daily. So why is it that while the world has been moving forward, knee braces have stayed almost the same?
Originally developed in 1967, knee braces were created to prevent injury and reinjury but they were bulky and uncomfortable on top of other issues. Except for changes in materials and fabric, they have largely stayed the same; the world has passed them by. The worst part is that if you injure your knee, you will likely need a knee brace to help you recover but you’re stuck with a product that comes with a load of problems.
Just to give you an idea of what’s out there, here are the three main types of knee braces currently on the market.
Classifications of Braces
Let’s start with a rigid brace like Ossur OTS CTi. A rigid brace is usually meant for treating mild to moderate ligament injuries or instabilities. Among the three categories, this one provides the most support for your knees.
It’s often used by athletes who participate in high risk contact sports like football, basketball, and hockey. Constructed from bars, hinges, and adhesive straps, this brace also reduces knee stiffness and supports the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
The problem is that it’s heavy and cumbersome, so don’t expect too much freedom in your movements. This type of brace also causes rubbing and skin irritation, making doing activities you love an uncomfortable experience especially for extended periods of time. Due to its weight and size, packing it up isn't easy.
Moving onto soft hinged knee braces, like the Donjoy Performance, these might feel a little bit better. Providing a moderate level of support, these knee braces combine a knee sleeve with hinged support. This makes it lighter than a rigid knee brace, but not by much.
When it comes to disadvantages, it’s the same drill. Although it’s lighter than a rigid knee brace, a soft-hinged one still feels heavy on the body and limits your movements. Hard hinges that are incorporated in the sleeve traps in the airflow and causes excessive perspiration. Sweaty knees anyone?
Finally, we come to the soft knee brace which is the most convenient of the three. The only problem is that it doesn’t actually provide much structural support. It does improve your movement by creating compression around your knees and increasing your proprioception - your body’s subconscious sense of it's position.
Another frustration here is the migration of the knee sleeve and the fact that it slips down even if you don’t perform a full range of movements. You would have to fix the slipping every thirty minutes.
So What is the Future of Knee Braces?
Today there are countless knee braces on the market but disruption hasn't really happened in the industry. Instead, companies simply create reiterations of the same product with incremental improvements but the core issues haven't gone away.
All three categories of knee braces have problems. In terms of convenience, your choices are pretty limited, and their multiple disadvantages hold you back.
Firstly, they are incredibly uncomfortable - they’re bulky, heavy on the body, cause swelling, blisters and skin irritation. They shift constantly, forcing you to stop and readjust. Secondly, they look pretty unattractive. Finally, bulky knee braces are not compatible with clothing and some sports gear.
All of these disadvantages mean that getting you to wear the brace can be a challenge in itself. For braces to be effective, they should be worn. But the question is how can you motivate yourself to wear them regularly when they have so many issues?
Stoko was born because we wanted to help athletes like you (and we consider everyone an athlete) get back to activities you love and reach your potential. We believe knee braces should be truly functional, extremely comfortable, and fit into your lifestyle. They should inspire you to move and push your limits even further while being a product that you enjoy wearing.
So we decided that the world needs a new knee brace.
The Stoko K1s are revolutionizing knee support. They're a pair of ultra comfortable compression tights with medical grade knee support seamlessly integrated directly into the fabric.
Other knee braces use heavy rigid material as a way to create support by restricting your movements. From a mechanical perspective, it’s like placing bone on the side of your knee. The K1s amplify your natural support structures like muscles and ligaments to support both your knees in a way that is comfortable, provides you with full range of motion, and the confidence to push harder.
The K1s are made for all types of activities. For example, they can be worn as a base layer for skiing and snowboarding. They're easily packable and after a day of activity, simply toss them into the washing machine.
We believe that everyone is an athlete. That's why we’ve designed a product that empowers your potential to do the activities you love. You will look good and feel good, and when you feel that way, there is nothing that will hold you back.