Knee injuries are, unfortunately, an inevitable occurrence for many during skiing season. The ski slopes’ incline and slipperiness mean that accidents and their resulting injuries can happen anytime. To ski, one requires a lot of coordination and balance; however, even the most experienced skiers can experience injuries or accidents. The knees are particularly vulnerable to damage as they are directly engaged in maintaining the balance that a skier needs. Knee braces and sleeves can serve as both precautionary measures for skiers with healthy knees and as support for skiers with injured knees.
Should You Use Knee Supports for Skiing?
A knee brace or support while skiing is a crucial safety measure. Knee supports do not only help you recover from an existing injury, but they also prevent them from happening. The forward motion while skiing downhill increases the risk of your knee joint giving out and raises the possibility of a bad accident. Certain factors can also place some skiers at a higher risk of knee injury than others. Weight, age, medical history, and slope intensity are risk factors that could make a skier more likely to get injured.
You should consider using knee support while skiing primarily to prevent injury from accidents on the slopes or worsening existing ones. The proper knee support for skiing can reduce the impact force on the knee and significantly alleviate pain and discomfort. Less pain translates to improved function and increased activity on the slopes, allowing you to ski for the entire duration of the season unharmed.
The following are the primary benefits of wearing knee support while skiing.
I. Knee Supports Increase Comfort
When the quadriceps, the muscles that support the knee, are weakened, the joint is more likely to buckle and lead to a fall. A knee support aids the knee as it bears the weight of your body while skiing. Wearing knee supports while skiing will stabilize the knee and give the user better protection. This can reduce the possibility of a dangerous fall.
II. Knee Supports Elevate Performance
Using good knee support while skiing will provide control and support to your knees so you can easily maneuver the slopes and make sharper turns. The brace or sleeve you use will enable a smoother skiing experience and reduce the risk of serious injury.
III. Knee Supports Increase Endurance
The stabilizing effect of the knee support while skiing will enable you to stay on the slope longer for more runs. Some knee braces have a variable tension system that can adjust support according to the assistance level required.
Selecting the Best Knee Support for Skiing
Knee supports for skiing fall into two categories: knee braces and sleeves. Knee braces and knee sleeves serve different purposes. The following breakdown should help you distinguish between the two when choosing the most suitable knee support while skiing.
Knee sleeves are slip-on devices made from materials like nylon and spandex, chosen for their elastic and moisture-wicking abilities. Moisture-wicking refers to the ability of the fabric to draw moisture away from the skin to the outer layers of the sleeve and to dry it fast. Knee sleeves are primarily designed to minimally support your knees and legs during an exercise, especially of the weight-bearing variety.
The sleeves function by providing compression over the area to be supported. The compression gives practical motion support during movements that apply extra or frequent pressure on the knees. Compression benefits the circulatory system contributing to healthy joint and muscle movement.
Knee braces are supports worn for painful or injured knees. They are made from different metals, foam, plastic, and elastic components. Knee braces provide advanced support for knee joints during recovery. They work by removing a large amount of rotary pressure from your knee joint, helping it to heal.
Unloader Knee Braces
Unloader knee braces are a type of medical knee brace that helps to unload weight from parts of the knee. Body weight, high speed, and gravity collaboratively cause pain and inflammation in weakened knee joints. Unloader knee braces redistribute weight away from the painful joint and help to decrease friction. The weight redistribution is how unloader braces manage to ease pain, prevent further damage and injury, and provide support and stability.
Unloader knee braces are available in uni-compartmental or multi-compartmental varieties, depending on the level of support required. They can be customized to the individual, ensuring maximum support for their particular injury.
Uni-Compartmental Unloader Knee Brace
The knee joint has three compartments. Injuries affect different compartments. Some injuries or illnesses can affect only one compartment, while others can affect all compartments. Classification of the unloader knee braces is based on how many of these compartments they can support and help redistribute weight from. A uni-compartment unloader knee brace will unload weight from only one compartment of the knee.
Multi-Compartmental Unloader Knee Brace
Multi-compartmental unloader knee braces redirect weight from all compartments of the knee in more serious, more complex injuries. They also help alleviate the pain and discomfort of arthritis. They work using a tensioning system that is adjustable by a dial which is part of the brace.
Knee Sleeves vs. Knee Braces
The main difference between a knee sleeve and a knee brace is that a sleeve helps prevent injuries, while a brace supports already damaged or previously injured knee joints through recovery. Knee braces are more durable than knee sleeves because they are made from reinforced material to withstand repeated use over an extended duration. Unlike knee sleeves, braces can be customized to fit the contours of a client’s knee properly. Knee braces cost significantly more than knee sleeves, but insurance is often available for getting knee braces meaning that the cost to the user can be heavily brought down.
Finding the proper skiing knee support can significantly improve your experience on the slopes. Whether you decide on a knee sleeve for support, a knee brace for recovery, or preventing an injury, any knee support is a step in the right direction.
If you are interested in an unloader knee brace, consider the Ascender Multi-Compartmental Unloader Knee Brace. Our custom-fit and lightweight braces are designed with skiers in mind and provide optimal support for those healing from injury or trying to prevent further damage to the knees.