A few weeks ago, a rep from BioSkin contacted me about writing a review in exchange for some gear and I jumped at the opportunity: I’m always looking for new tools to help build my strength & improve my running. Plus I love sharing info with you guys – it can be hard to weed through the endless stream of running-related products out there and I rely heavily on runner reviews of products before I buy, so now’s my chance to give back with a review of my own!
After offering to send me a pair of compression calf sleeves, I asked the rep if I might be able to try out one of their knee braces instead. I explained that ever since my knee surgery, I’ve dealt with recurring knee injuries; most recently the patellar tendonitis flare up last summer that caused me to drop from the full marathon to the half in October.
The rep was super helpful and offered their Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap. After my injury last summer I picked up a similar (albeit much cheaper) little tendon strap from the local running store and found it to be immensely helpful. Until it gave me a rash while running and stretched out to the point of being unusable after a week. I had high hopes for this BioSkin brace, and I’ll spoil the surprise for you right now by saying I was not disappointed!
The brace arrived much quicker than expected, along with a handful of snack samples and a fun ladies cut t-shirt too. This made me laugh – in the rep’s initial email, he actually said “I see that you like to take the occasional running selfie, so how about we give you a shirt, too?” I was super impressed – the man had done his homework!
The next morning I decided to test this baby (literally, the Q-Baby – what a cute name for a brace) in some pretty harsh conditions: by 9am it was already 80 degrees and rising, at about 75% humidity. Because the sun was so hot, I opted to run under the shade of Holmdel Park, which worked out great: I was able to really put myself – and the brace! – to the test with hills, uneven trails, and lots of other knee-crushing fun. If it could survive an hour or more of sweat and challenging terrain, it could probably survive anything I’m capable of.
I was a little intimidated at first by the setup of the brace – it’s comprised of two parts that all velcro together – but the instructions were super easy to follow and I got it right on the first try. The design and quality stood out immediately: because the strap narrows down in the back, you don’t get the itchy discomfort of leftover velcro rubbing on your skin with every step, and the second part of the brace served as reinforcement to the first compressive strap. This means that even if the initial brace with the compressive pad stretched out like my old cheapie brace did (which the Q-Baby did not, more on that later), the second strap that wraps around it will still be there to hold the pad against the tendon and ease your pain.
After a few hops and laps around the yard without any brace slippage or pain (hooray!), I hopped in the car, picked up my running buddy, Kevin, and we headed to the trails. Once we warmed up and started to pick up the pace, the sweat started to drip pretty much everywhere. It was one of those humid days where your legs instantly get a sheen of sweat as soon as you step outside, but that did nothing to move this brace. In the first mile we trekked over rocky hills and a cute little bridge and I absolutely forgot about the brace on my knee. No pain in the patella, no uncomfortable rubbing from the brace, nothing!
At mile one we made a bathroom stop, and that was the only time I adjusted the brace all day. It wasn’t slipping, but I tightened it more for reassurance than anything, because we were ready to attack the next 4 miles with intensity. We’d coast down hills in one mile then double back to see if we could keep pace on the way back up, and breathlessly fought each rolling hill. It was hard work, especially in that heat, but we had a blast!
From the moment we started until the very last steps, my knee felt great. In humidity it tends to act up, but the brace was like a little security blanket that kept it happy and allowed me to really push myself. I was even able to shift my weight and experiment with different ways of tackling the hills, like focusing on using my glutes on one, then using my hamstrings on another. I was able to use my legs in ways that I’d been previously afraid to because of my tendonitis, thanks to this brace!
When we finished our 5 miles in 1:15, I expected the strap to be stretched out and basically unusable (just like my old cheapie brace). But even after more than an hour of bending, sweating, and running, I was shocked to find that with the exception of some streaks of sunblock, it’s still in perfect shape and ready to rock again. I can’t wait to take it out on another run and see what else I’m capable of!
Have you tried BioSkin before? Are you digging any other compression/braces to ease your aching joints? Share your opinions in the comments!
Disclosure: BioSkin provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.