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Recommended knee braces for skiiing

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

This is my first post and I would really be grateful to receive any advice or suggestions.

 

I am going skiing over the christmas period but have two very dodgy knees, which I am concerned about. It has been recommended to me that I purchase knee braces, which are meant to be extremely supportive. However there is such a broad selection that I don't know which ones are actually good for skiing and are at a reasonable price too. So if anyone could let me know about their past experiences or suggest any good braces then that would be great!!

 

Many thanks H.

post #2 of 17

Welcome to Epic

 

I ski with a CTI brace- not custom, but fitted to me at my Ortho`s office 6 weeks after my 2nd ACL surgery...it doesn`t hinder my skiing and seems to offer some protection in certain situations, but not all.

 

Not exactly sure what your knee issues are, but most drug store braces do not offer a ton of protection.

post #3 of 17

What do you need the braces for?  Dodgy is kind of wide open.

 

I use Opedix Compression under layer and BREG (ACL) knee braces; both legs.  I have found the support of both to be a great benefit.  Works great.

post #4 of 17

As has been discussed in older threads, a custom functional brace does more than a generic support that can be bought in a drug store.  For one thing, a custom brace won't allow hyperextension.  That's important for protecting the ACL

 

My orthopedic group uses Don Joy, or will do CTi is that's want the patient wants.  If you have the support of a doctor, some insurance will cover the purchase.

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hmask View Post

Hi all,

 

This is my first post and I would really be grateful to receive any advice or suggestions.

 

I am going skiing over the christmas period but have two very dodgy knees, . . .

Have you noticed this thread about knee injury prevention?

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/114272/being-proactive-instead-of-reactive-with-your-knees#post_1495591

post #6 of 17

There is discussion of knee braces in this thread by folks who went through ACL reconstruction surgery.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/108804/life-after-acl-reconstruction

post #7 of 17

thanks Marznc-  the best preventative measures you can take right now is to build strength and balance.  medial quads, adductors, core, balance...  etc.  there's a bunch of stuff on this posted up. Learn how to properly squat and bend. The brace will only provide minimal support and protection overall; don't rely on the brace.

post #8 of 17

See a couple credible MDs and get a consistent diagnosis first. Knee pain can come from a variety of physical structures of the knee. You may have pain but no stability problems whatsoever. Advise the MD what you are experiencing and how it is limiting your activity. You may need specific therapy depending on your individual case. Your problem may not need the use of a brace. Perhaps there is a meniscus problem, or an irritation that is occurring outside the joint capsule. Without knowing what the source of the problem is you are unlikely to be successful in determining an adequate solution, and you could aggravate the problem.

post #9 of 17

Not to trump Hmask in his own thread, but ... let's talk about my dodgy knee too!

 

A skiing accident.  Injury not apparent in x-ray, but was evident in MRI.  Proximal tibia fracture and damaged but intact ACL, degree of damage unknown.  No surgery; completed PT; ortho finds no instability in knee, but recommends knee brace for skiing (and only for skiing).  I have since taken up jogging.  I have no residual issues from the incident ... well, no physical ones anyway.

 

It's time to think about a brace.  I called the orthotics guy to learn what makes/models they carry or tend to prescribe and what the process will be.  The doctor will probably prescribe a derotational brace (often referred to as a ligament brace).  The orthotics guy said they use braces from Breg, Bledsoe, Townsend Design, and DonJoy; usually go with off-the-shelf versus custom braces; and that a key factor in selecting a brace is the shape of the leg.  (If it's "ugly leg, ugly brace", I'm Doomed!)

 

I may have several braces to choose from, so I'm looking for any advice such as:

  • Watch out for braces with a ____; I had one and that poked in my leg (or whatever bad thing it did)
  • One metal that's better or worse than another
  • Construction of straps or hinges or ???
  • Better or worse brace designs/features
  • Practice walking/jogging with the brace prior to skiing so it seems normal to have it on
  • When you try on the brace, do _______ to see how it feels/fits (this assumes they'll have the one I need in stock)

 

The main purpose of the brace, as I understand it, will be to help protect the ACL when I fall.

 

I'd rather have a 4-star brace that I use than a 5-star brace that stays at home.  And I'd rather buy the right brace the first time even if it costs more.  It will be covered by insurance but I can expect they'll want to share the bill with me; they're generous like that!

 

I'm also thinking that the first day out may be a good time for a private lesson to address whatever mental cooties I have from last year's fall.

 

So, the wisdom of your experience, please ...

post #10 of 17

I agree with all the suggestions about preping yourself properly, seeking medical advice etc. The reality over here in the Uk is, however, that unless you've got money, private healthcare (I know it's different over there) or have time to wait (months) for physio, it can be harder than it seems to get help.

 

My wife injured her knee landing a jump last season and had some meniscus and medial collateral ligament damage. She got a Mueller Hg80 knee brace with kevlar. She finds it really supportive and has had no problmas since wearing it. She laso finds it extremely comfortable and can wear it all day with no problem. 

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vickiehView Post

Not to trump Hmask in his own thread, but ... let's talk about my dodgy knee too!

 

A skiing accident.  Injury not apparent in x-ray, but was evident in MRI.  Proximal tibia fracture and damaged but intact ACL, degree of damage unknown.  No surgery; completed PT; ortho finds no instability in knee, but recommends knee brace for skiing (and only for skiing).  I have since taken up jogging.  I have no residual issues from the incident ... well, no physical ones anyway.

 

It's time to think about a brace.  I called the orthotics guy to learn what makes/models they carry or tend to prescribe and what the process will be.  The doctor will probably prescribe a derotational brace (often referred to as a ligament brace).  The orthotics guy said they use braces from Breg, Bledsoe, Townsend Design, and DonJoy; usually go with off-the-shelf versus custom braces; and that a key factor in selecting a brace is the shape of the leg.  (If it's "ugly leg, ugly brace", I'm Doomed!)

 

I may have several braces to choose from, so I'm looking for any advice such as:

  • Watch out for braces with a ____; I had one and that poked in my leg (or whatever bad thing it did)
  • One metal that's better or worse than another
  • Construction of straps or hinges or ???
  • Better or worse brace designs/features
  • Practice walking/jogging with the brace prior to skiing so it seems normal to have it on
  • When you try on the brace, do _______ to see how it feels/fits (this assumes they'll have the one I need in stock)

 

The main purpose of the brace, as I understand it, will be to help protect the ACL when I fall.

 

I'd rather have a 4-star brace that I use than a 5-star brace that stays at home.  And I'd rather buy the right brace the first time even if it costs more.  It will be covered by insurance but I can expect they'll want to share the bill with me; they're generous like that!

 

I'm also thinking that the first day out may be a good time for a private lesson to address whatever mental cooties I have from last year's fall.

 

So, the wisdom of your experience, please ...

Don't know a lot but it's never stopped me from sharing before biggrin.gif

 

Donjoy sold the company and started a new one with a new model.  Then new company is called BREG.  For the ACL brace, the new model has a hinge that articulates as the knee bends so it stays against the knee.  My wife wore a DONJOY and I have two BREGs.  I used to have a Bledsoe and it was fine, until I got a BREG.  Much better, more comfortable.

 

My brace fitter told me that men's leg's tend to have an off the shelf fit; pretty much small, medium and large.  A bend here and there and adjusting the straps usually takes care of it.  Women on the other hand are all over the place and they tend to get custom braces more often.  This is based on 10's of thousands of measured legs.  My wife's was custom.

 

The biggest benefit of the brace is that is supports the leg (i.e. less weight stress) and it can prevent an ACL tear from hyper-extention - not from twisting.

 

On the Bledsoe the straps would bug me now and then.  The ONLY issue I've ever had with the BREG was getting them mixed up and putting them on the wrong legs (I wear two).  redface.gif

 

Compression tights underneath the brace is the full monte and is what I do.

 

Ken

post #12 of 17

Very good to know!  I was wondering where BREG came from.  Plan on getting a custom brace next calendar year for some added protection for the knee that doesn't have an ACL any more.  At least when skiing on big mountains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Donjoy sold the company and started a new one with a new model.  Then new company is called BREG.  For the ACL brace, the new model has a hinge that articulates as the knee bends so it stays against the knee.  My wife wore a DONJOY and I have two BREGs.  I used to have a Bledsoe and it was fine, until I got a BREG.  Much better, more comfortable.

 

My brace fitter told me that men's leg's tend to have an off the shelf fit; pretty much small, medium and large.  A bend here and there and adjusting the straps usually takes care of it.  Women on the other hand are all over the place and they tend to get custom braces more often.  This is based on 10's of thousands of measured legs.  My wife's was custom.

 

The biggest benefit of the brace is that is supports the leg (i.e. less weight stress) and it can prevent an ACL tear from hyper-extention - not from twisting.

post #13 of 17
Originally Posted by Adie View Post

I agree with all the suggestions about preping yourself properly, seeking medical advice etc. The reality over here in the Uk is, however, that unless you've got money, private healthcare (I know it's different over there) or have time to wait (months) for physio, it can be harder than it seems to get help.

 

 

Thanks for the reminder about the differences in availability of medical care.  Sometimes we lose sight of that.

 

 

 

Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Donjoy sold the company and started a new one with a new model.  The new company is called BREG.

 

The biggest benefit of the brace is that is supports the leg (i.e. less weight stress) and it can prevent an ACL tear from hyper-extention - not from twisting.

 

Compression tights underneath the brace is the full monte and is what I do.

 

 

Good to know the connection between Breg and DonJoy.  Initially, I planned to research braces and just figure it out myself.  I mean, how much difference can there be?  Ha.  Wasn't long before I decided I would visit the ortho and orthotics guys.

 

 

To bring this back to Hmask's needs:

 

Compression tights ... these help reduce muscle fatigue, correct?  So they are geared toward supporting the muscles and not the ligaments or joints?

 

Hinged braces ... that's what L&AirC has and what I will have.  A metal arm down each side of the knee to keep the upper leg from moving forward of the lower leg, augmenting the function of the ACL.  (Depending on the model, it may also help other ligaments.)  There's a lot of variety within this group.  The open braces ~ just metal arms held on the leg by straps ~ support just the ligaments; whereas, the neoprene ones provide both muscle and ligament support, correct?

 

Do either of these help if someone has problems in the joint itself?

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Very good to know!  I was wondering where BREG came from.  Plan on getting a custom brace next calendar year for some added protection for the knee that doesn't have an ACL any more.  At least when skiing on big mountains.

 

According to the brace fitter (has been in the business for a few decades), DonJoy is short for Donna and Joy.  Donna and Joy are (or at least were) the wives of Bruce (or Brian - can't remember which) and Greg, founders of DonJoy and now BREG.

 

To the underlined part.  I haven't had an acl in my left knee since 2008.  In 2011 I hooked a gate and tore my right acl along with a few other things.  Happened so quick that I never saw it coming and it messed with my head for quite a while.  To that point, I hadn't been wearing a brace on my left leg for a couple years.  Even if it is belt and suspenders, I don't care.  If I have an accident that takes out my left knee, there is a pretty good chance I'll be done with skiing.  I have other issues with my left knee from my younger days too.  Without an ACL, the meniscus will tear (next in the chain) and there isn't much that can be done for that.  The repair is the least of my concerns though.  I've had three surgeries in 4 years.  Work would prefer me to not do that any more.

 

I kind of look at skiing like driving a car with regards to risk; most accidents happen close to home.  I wear my braces at small mountains too.  My knees can't tell how big the mountain is.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vickieh View Post

 

 

To bring this back to Hmask's needs:

 

Compression tights ... these help reduce muscle fatigue, correct?  Yes So they are geared toward supporting the muscles and not the ligaments or joints?  The ligaments and joints are supported indirectly (IMO).  The muscles don't get fatigued so they can do their job longer.  Strong muscles help prevent injuries and accidents.

 

Hinged braces ... that's what L&AirC has and what I will have.  A metal arm down each side of the knee to keep the upper leg from moving forward of the lower leg, augmenting the function of the ACL.  (Depending on the model, it may also help other ligaments.)  There's a lot of variety within this group.  The open braces ~ just metal arms held on the leg by straps ~ support just the ligaments; whereas, the neoprene ones provide both muscle and ligament support, correct?  I don't think the neoprene can do anything more than the compression tights do; support and warmth.

 

Do either of these help if someone has problems in the joint itself?  I would guess it depends on what the joints issue is.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

I kind of look at skiing like driving a car with regards to risk; most accidents happen close to home.  I wear my braces at small mountains too.  My knees can't tell how big the mountain is.

Point taken.

post #17 of 17

I completely ripped the left ACL in '93. Had recon surgery 2 wks later. ACL graft was a bit too long, so stability is still a problem, but only for high force movements, it is fine in straight line jogging, running. I use a GII sport brace which was shaped to my leg thru the use of a cast mold. It fits perfectly. It uses a "dynamic force strap" which attaches to the middle outside of the lower part of the brace, wraps around the back of my knee comes around the inside of my leg and attaches to the lower front side of the upper part of the brace. The philosophy is that the strap pulls the tibia and femur heads tight together and prevents shearing forces between the two.

 

I have used it for skiing only for 19 yrs. It provides perfect stability for the knee. Like I was never injured. However I do not believe it would be so good for other sports, like basketball b/c it is some what stiff and prevents movement greater than desired. But for skiing it is perfect. I had another braced formed to the knee a few yrs ago, the Doc said it would be superior. It is a Townsend and is based on preventing rotation between the femur and tibia heads. It has the two metal pieces that come down each side of the leg similar to what u see the football players wear. It is more flexible and allows for a freer movement than the GII (altho' the GII is 19 yrs old and new ones of this strap type may be improved; also GII makes  a type that is like the Townsend described above).

 

This gets to the head trip: I have never used the new brace. I am confident with the old brace, (send it to the mfr to be refurbished every couple yrs) and stick with it. The new one I assume works fine, and I should try it, but the old one has been flawless for so many yrs it is like a part of me (my exoskeleton!!!).

 

When you use a new brace, just ski with it easily and progress into more aggression step by step. The 1st few times I skied after I wrecked my knee I was very worried to fall. But with the brace it never became an issue, and 19 yrs later the knee has never been re-injured (I'm knocking on wood right now).

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