Anyone backpacker unfortunate enough to develop tendonitis in their patella tendon knows the pain of hiking with it. Descending and climbing both result in a surprisingly sharp pain that cuts through the knee and only worsens with each step. Luckily, there is equipment that can ease or even eliminate that pain. The Zamst JK-2 is an excellent option.
Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumpers knee, is a common overuse injury that results in small tears accumulating on the tendon that attaches to the knee cap itself. This produces inflammation and thus pain directly inside and around that tendon. The JK-2 works by applying pressure to the tendon, proving support, reducing tension and producing and a nice warming sensation from the insulating materials. The brace slides over the knee, wraps around the knee cap and tendon, and then a secondary strap applies pressure directly to the tendon directly itself. An upper strap allows the brace to be tightened onto the leg to prevent slipping, and the stretchy materials grip to the leg to avoid shifting and bunching. It’s constructed from soft, abrasion resistant and breathable nylons and spandex, comes in various sizes, and retails for $69.99.
My experience with the JK-2
I’ve been using the JK-2 for over a year now, and it’s had a huge impact on my hiking and backpacking experience. Originally, my injury was quite severe and I even had to stop hiking for a few months. To me, this was terrifying. The simple act of walking up hill or down stairs was quite painful, and I found myself avoiding both altogether. Descending mountains for miles with a heavily weighted pack, obviously wasn’t an option. After trying treatments, therapies and many braces from various brands, some helpful and some actually causing more pain, I eventually found Zamst and the JK-2. The JK-2 by far provided the best experience. While using the JK-2 my pain instantly went from nearly unbearable without the brace, to mild or even non-existent with it, depending on the situation. Feeling like a bionic leg, it provided support and confidence to attack the trail once again, without fear of becoming hurt or resting in pain. After using it for a year, I can actually hike without it pain free on many days as It’s provided support and care that allowed my tendon to heal slowly over time.
The brace works in every situation that I’ve needed it, including hiking, backpacking, running, biking and more. Even while cycling the brace stays in place, consistently providing reliable support and comfort. It’s compact enough to fit underneath shorts or pants without becoming visible or distracting, and layers on top of base layers very well.
It’s also quite comfortable, usually going unnoticed when in use. The only time I really notice it’s there is when I’m crouching low to the ground as it bunches up a bit around the back, but quickly returns to the proper position when standing again. It has good ventilation on the sides and back, but captures a little bit of heat along the patella, which results in a soothing warmth that is appreciated over time.
The brace has held up extraordinarily well, only to just recently begin to soften up and and suggest a future replacement (the sides have softened up which allows the top strap to sag a bit when biking). I’ve had it in the snow, rain, heat, and drug it along rocks and wood without ever seeing a fray of cloth. Considering how hard and long I’ve used this brace, it’s done an exceptional job of holding up.
My only complaint
The brace cannot be put on over footwear. The top of the brace doesn’t come undone, and will not slide over most shoes or boots. This isn’t a big complaint, but when dealing with a wet earth there is risk of ending up with a wet sock as you have to remove your boots.
The JK-2 is by far the best brace that I’ve found for patellar tendonitis. It’s comfortable, provides incredible relief, and has allowed me to continue participating in the sports that I love the most when I originally believed I would have to quit. If you’re been diagnosed with the issue and your doctor recommends trying a brace, I cannot recommend this one enough.
The highest of recommendations
Just a word: I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice. If you have knee pain, I highly suggest seeing a doctor. It could save you a lot of trouble in the end. This is simply my review of the brace.
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For more information on Zamst and their excellent line of gear, check out http://www.zamst.us/
I wanted to send a special thanks out to Zamst for their support and for providing this excellent piece of equipment to review. We couldn’t do this without their help. Thank you so much! Our full disclosure can be found on the about me/contact page.