Will a brace weaken my knee? No. You obviously don’t worry about those big plastic ski boots with reinforced steel buckles or board boots with husky external bindings weakening your feet or ankles do you? If a brace helps you to ski or ride your board, or better yet do it more often than last year, the act of skiing or riding will strengthen you! Sitting on the couch channel surfing all winter will weaken your knees, that you now have in writing!
Thankfully the basic position for carving your skis or riding your board puts your knees in a very stable position. The musculature around the knee joint is activated with the nature of these sports reducing instability and thereby helping prevent the knee from giving out. If the musculature does not do the trick either because of a positional disadvantage i.e. falling awkwardly or weakness, the knee could be at risk of injury.
If you intend to ski or snowboard make sure you have done some pre-season work to help strengthen your body to prep it for the fun of cruising the blues, blowing through powder fields or hitting the bumps! If you have a conditioning issue or defined weakness, seek out a sports physiotherapist or certified athletic therapist to get a program tailored for you. Strength around the knee joint and through the entire body is a great defense against knee injuries. If you suspect you have a knee injury or know you have one, see your physician for a diagnosis and treatment outline. This may include a knee brace.
Why consider a knee brace? If you have suffered from knee injuries, chronic knee instability or you were directed by your physician or specialist to be fit for a brace for skiing or snowboarding seeing one of our bracing professionals is your next step. Book yourself an appointment to have a discussion about which type of knee brace may be appropriate for your knee and all your activities.
Boot height and tibia (lower leg) length will affect bracing choices as some manufacturers supply braces designed to fit above the cuff and not be interfered by the boot itself. Braces are anchored to the knee by either a sleeve, rigid or semi-rigid frames or in some rare cases semi-rigid frames built onto sleeves. Almost all are tightened by Velcro closures. Many companies use ultra-thin Velcro these days to keep strapping bulk to a minimal. As braces are worn under your pants for skiing or riding, stapping effectiveness to help keep the brace in postion over a long day is essential. Braces weigh less than a ski boot so they should not slow you down due to weight.
What can a brace do? Some are designed for compression to keep swelling down, while cage-style hinged braces provide support to help reduce the risk of unwanted knee movements. No knee brace can off 100% protection in all cases, that unfortunately is not possible. Addressing the instability can be accomplished by choosing a brace with the appropriate amount of support, having it fit appropriately, and being educated on how to apply it properly. These steps will ensure your stability wearing a brace can be much more than without.
Patella (knee cap) instability and pain about the patella is often treated with a brace designed for these specific purposes. No hinges are required here. Patella braces are usually sleeve designs with an insert or stabilizing component that address the knee cap position. Fit of these braces is crucial to ensure their effectiveness. Gapping about the brace, support pieces that are too big or too small for your patella, poor ability of the sleeve material to form to your knee or simply an improper fit can all negate the effectiveness of these braces. These issues also highlight why OKAPED does not sell knee braces online.
If you have more questions or would like to try on some braces for this upcoming snow sport season, book a knee brace appointment at a OKAPED office near you.
Lastly, if you ski…. Check your bindings DIN (resistance setting) and ensure they are in good working order!