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Knee Brace for Skiing [for injury prevention to normal knees]

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

The skiing season is about to start up again. I don't have any knee injuries or ACL problems.

 

The doctor said I should be wearing a knee brace to protect the knee from excessive wear and tear and the knee cap which is held in place by muscles from moving around.

 

Another way to have a natural knee brace is to build up the quadriceps muscles but that requires physio and you have to do it all the time. If you stop, the natural knee brace will go away.

 

Is the wear and tear accumulative or does the knee return back to 100% after not doing sports for a while? What are some recommendations on knee braces? I try to ski 1-3 times a week when the time permits and would like to have good knees when I'm older.

 

Do you ski with a knee brace even though you have no knee injuries to protect the knee?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 16

The debate about OTC braces is as endless as it is contradictory. Unless your doc wrote you a script for a specialty brace, I would just buy some knee warmers.

post #3 of 16

I have a bit of a bum right knee that starts really, really hurting by the end of the season.

Last year, I just got an OTC heavier-duty knee brace to keep in my locker.  I only wear it when my knee is acting up.

It seems to help and seems to offer a little additional support and increased stability.  At any rate, my knee feels better when it's on.

Now, is that placebo effect, or because it actually works as designed?  I have no idea, and as long as it helps, I don't care.

 

My advice would be to go ahead and try one, if you're interested enough to post this query.  

If it's a bust, you're only out 50-75 bucks or so.

post #4 of 16

There is useful info in this thread about knee injury prevention exercises.

 

http://epicski.onthesnow.com/t/121975/acl-training-injury-prevention-exercises#post_1621566

 

It's not just the quads that should be strong to support knees.  Hamstrings are very important.  Doing adduction and abduction work is important.  So is core strength.  I learned a lot rehabbing a knee minus an ACL last year.  End result was that I was stronger overall and had more than enough confidence to ski without a brace.  Note that I never was interested in jumping off stuff.  My surgeon agreed partially because all a brace could really do is prevent hyperextension.

 

I also chose to invest time and money in high level lessons all season long, including during trips out west.

post #5 of 16

As marznc posted, strong muscles are the best defense against knee problems.

You asked is knee wear cumulative and the answer is yes. I'm a bit bow legged and after 66  years the meniscus is worn more on one side; just living wears things out. I also have flat feet which contributed to poor posture which contributed to knee wear. However, the most knee damage was done by racquetball not skiing. The best knee support is strong muscles but work with a trainer so damaged is minimized and all muscle groups are properly strengthened.

I skied over 100 days last year and wore neoprene braces on both knees every day because my knees are shot and the braces help reduce the looseness. I also have arthritis in both knees, but even with braces my knees were still swollen at the end of the day.

Go back to your doc and tell him how much you want to ski. Get a better description of what he wants to prevent, if he wants to reduce knee cap movement he may have already detected wear. The wrong brace could make that worse. Get the docs recommendation even if its an OTC brace. If you need to strengthen certain muscles he may write you a prescription for physical therapy to correct an imbalance. If your doc has no specific issues with your knees work with a trainer at a gym to build overall strength. You have about six weeks till the season starts and thats plenty of time to get things in shape for an enjoyable year.

post #6 of 16

Getting started by having formal PT or working with a personal trainer who knows about knees is very helpful.  It's easy to end up doing exercises wrong.  Meaning your knee is not where it should be during a strength or stretch motion.  Obviously even more important for any plyometrics (jumping) exercise.

 

FYI, I have no professional background in medicine or sports training.  But I know how to research a topic and listen to those who have relevant professional background.

 

As an older skier (over 55) who wants to continue to improve as an advanced skier, I'm willing to invest the time and effort it takes to be in the best possible condition to enjoy the slopes now that I am retired and have the time and money for more ski trips.  Knee injury prevention is not just about leg strength.  If you don't do cardio as well, you are more likely to be tired too early in a ski day.  Fatigue is an obvious risk factor for injury.

post #7 of 16

Wearing a brace could actually be counter-productive and make your knees weaker. Sounds like an over-protective doctor who thinks all skiers knees will be injured. Exercise and strong muscles are the key and you will be healthier in the long run. Even with minimal cartilage in both knees due to overuse, I still don't, and don't intend on wearing a brace. I do find that a base layer of supportive tights like CW-X or Opedix give ample support and keep me warm.

post #8 of 16

Sounds like your doctor is not a skier and really doesn't have a clue what he is saying.  I ski regularly with an orthopedic surgeon and he would laugh at this doc tors statement.  I would recommend you schedule an appointment (3 sessions) with a PT and get some knee specific exercises you can do.  Tore my meniscus 2 years ago and after about 6 weeks of regularly doing the exercises she told me to do I was fine and still am (71yrs).  The neoprene brace will keep your knees warm and that is about it but may be good for you if you warm up slowly or are just prone to cold legs or knees.

 

Wearing knee braces I agree may weaken your knees if you don't need them.  Get on a program.  A PT will show you what you can do at home to give them the proper exercise.

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kungpow View Post
 

The skiing season is about to start up again. I don't have any knee injuries or ACL problems.

 

The doctor said I should be wearing a knee brace to protect the knee from excessive wear and tear and the knee cap which is held in place by muscles from moving around.

 

 

Re-reading it, it doesn't sound like you need to see anyone. Doctors and physios treat issues, which you apparently don't have any of. Most people participate in regular activity and don't have any issues at all, including wear and tear. Best part about that is the more you do it, the stronger and healthier you get. Skiing isn't some kind of self-destructive activity.

 

If you are concerned, go see a personal trainer or join a gym to get/stay strong and healthy, don't worry about it, go ski

post #10 of 16
In forty years of skiing, I've never hurt my knee. Broke a knee cap, though, just tripping. Why doesn't he make us all wear pads on our knees for daily wear? Makes as much sense for a healthy knee.
post #11 of 16

As nearly as I can tell, you have perfectly healthy knees, yes? OK, then speaking as someone who wears a Donjoy, and has pretty messed up knees, your doc's idea gets a fail. I've never heard of a qualified sports orthopedist who suggested wearing a knee brace to prevent "wear and tear." Braces simply cannot work to prevent most knee injuries, let alone normal aging. The physics are wrong; ligament injuries take place too quickly, with too small changes in position of the upper and lower leg, for a brace to prevent. Think about how much play there is in a brace, even a well-fitting one, simply because your muscles and skin and subcutaneous fat compress, shift, during movement. Also think about football; with the amount of money they invest in players, teams would put everyone into a brace if there were even marginal scientific proof they worked to prevent injuries. And aging is a molecular phenomenon, at most maybe good movement mechanics and good muscle support can slow down inevitable aging a touch. It's mostly in your luck of the draw for parents, and in avoiding major accidents that lead to instability and OA. 

 

What a real Rx brace can do is to prevent exacerbation of an existing injury that has led to joint instability. The brace takes over some of the gross stabilizing functions. It's particularly useful for moderate to advanced OA or for folks without ACL's, that kind of thing.

 

BTW, the hamstrings are more important for ACL support than the quads. But both groups help stabilize the knee, both can react fast enough to possibly prevent some tears, or reduce their severityand it's simple enough to strengthen both by going to the gym a few times a week. Doesn't require PT, doesn't require becoming a gym rat. And if you ski with your body in bad condition, you invite all kinds of grief, both up front and years from now. 

 

So IMO working out a bit, and taking lessons are the best ways to save your knees. Not braces. 

post #12 of 16

Get stronger through whatever methods you choose and enjoy. I don't actively 'strengthen' or 'work out' to get stronger. I just ride my bike whenever I can and in the winter I ski. A lot.

 

Improved technique and awareness of the mechanisms for injury (http://www.vermontskisafety.com/kneefriendly.php) will go a long way to reducing the likelihood of injury, not just in the knee but for the entire body. When you ski better you fall less and find yourself in precarious situations less frequently. The latter is the most likely time you'll get a knee injury: in the back seat and twisting trying to recover from a mistake.

 

Properly tuned equipment, especially of course bindings, will help considerably as well. Just a little bit of grit on your boot sole can cause a binding to fail to operate properly. As can just a bit of snow on the boot sole. There are reasons you see skiers using Cat Tracks and Yaktrax and similar products to protect the soles of their boots. Wear of the sole can cause misalignments with the binding thus reducing the bindings ability to perform properly.

 

https://www.yaktrax.com/product/ski
http://www.seirus.com/snow-sports-detail/104/?ltag=snow-sports-ByTag/hard-goods/

 

I agree with the others that an orthopedic doctor familiar with the sport would likely not recommend a brace for healthy knees. They aren't that effective and generally act more as a reminder that you have something wrong and cause you to be more aware OR cause you to think you are indestructible and go beyond reasonable limits.

post #13 of 16

Hmmm, I skimmed over the "No Injury" part, so I take back my advice.

If you truly have no current knee injury of any kind, then I agree with No brace.

 

If you do have some sort of chronic minor knee injury, then I think a brace can help stabilize your knee.  It works for me...when needed.

Preventing knee injury through general exercise and proper ski technique works better, tho.....

post #14 of 16

Not much more to add than what has been said except I'd take it a step further and suggest you get a new doctor.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post
 

Not much more to add than what has been said except I'd take it a step further and suggest you get a new doctor.

 

 

Once again I MISSED THE OBVIOUS !!!!!!

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

It's not just the quads that should be strong to support knees.  Hamstrings are very important.  

Agree

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
 

 you schedule an appointment (3 sessions) with a PT and get some knee specific exercises you can do. But choose him wright! They can mess you up too with wrong advice and exercises...

 

Wearing knee braces I agree may weaken your knees if you don't need them.  Get on a program.  Maybe even induce what you wanted to prevent...

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

As nearly as I can tell, you have perfectly healthy knees, yes? OK, then speaking as someone who wears a Donjoy, and has pretty messed up knees, your doc's idea gets a fail. I've never heard of a qualified sports orthopedist who suggested wearing a knee brace to prevent "wear and tear." Braces simply cannot work to prevent most knee injuries, let alone normal aging. The physics are wrong; ligament injuries take place too quickly, with too small changes in position of the upper and lower leg, for a brace to prevent. Think about how much play there is in a brace, even a well-fitting one, simply because your muscles and skin and subcutaneous fat compress, shift, during movement. Also think about football; with the amount of money they invest in players, teams would put everyone into a brace if there were even marginal scientific proof they worked to prevent injuries. And aging is a molecular phenomenon, at most maybe good movement mechanics and good muscle support can slow down inevitable aging a touch. It's mostly in your luck of the draw for parents, and in avoiding major accidents that lead to instability and OA. 

 

What a real Rx brace can do is to prevent exacerbation of an existing injury that has led to joint instability. The brace takes over some of the gross stabilizing functions. It's particularly useful for moderate to advanced OA or for folks without ACL's, that kind of thing.

 

BTW, the hamstrings are more important for ACL support than the quads. But both groups help stabilize the knee, both can react fast enough to possibly prevent some tears, or reduce their severityand it's simple enough to strengthen both by going to the gym a few times a week. Doesn't require PT, doesn't require becoming a gym rat. And if you ski with your body in bad condition, you invite all kinds of grief, both up front and years from now. 

 

So IMO working out a bit, and taking lessons are the best ways to save your knees. Not braces. 

Totally agree!

 

Hey KungPow ( liked the movie!)!

 

Yes it is cummulative...

I have 2 bad knees and the doc said that I wouldn't be able to do sports again...

I now do tennis (3 hours at a time, single), mountain and road bike, cross country skiing and, of course, alpine skiing ( with a lot of bumps and trees)...

I never wear knee braces except for tennis ( really tough on knees!)...

http://www.cho-pat.com/products/dualactionkneestrap.php

But I religiously do my stretching, my trigger points massage and weight trainning...

 

I believe that braces without stretching and the others would be of no help for me...However, last year, I began looking for things like Opedix ( Not tried yet) or simpler knee braces like http://www.cho-pat.com/products/originalkneestrap.php (but I think it will bother me under my clothes...)... So this season, I will try taping my knee first   ( it shouldn't move and shouldn't bother me) and see how it goes... It would mostly be for prevention of more deterioration...

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