Today, like helmets, knee braces are an essential part of motorsports. With the rough terrain and high-impacts powersports enthusiasts encounter, knees need to be protected, especially since knee damage will assuredly keep you from riding for an extended period of time.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the knee contains four ligaments that connect the femur to the tibia. These four ligaments include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which controls the rotation and the forward movement of the tibia
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which controls the backward movement of the tibia
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL), which gives stability to the inner knee
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL), which gives stability to the outer knee.
Another crucial part of the knee, the meniscus, is a pad of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber. Chances are, you know someone who has torn an ACL or meniscus, whether they are in motorsports or not. In fact, the most common knee injuries in motocross sports are to the ACL, meniscus and MCL. Tearing any one of these will keep you on crutches for weeks, and recovery demands additional weeks of physical therapy and limited leg movement.
As such, manufacturers offer knee braces that aim to redistribute the shock of impact to the brace itself while cushioning the knee. Furthermore, manufacturers are also focusing on comfort, keeping knee braces as low-profile, lightweight and formfitting as possible, while also strengthening them. For instance, many types of premium knee braces use carbon fiber to optimize strength and reduce weight.
Premium knee braces aim to mimic the human knee, using hinges and ligaments that provide a more natural stance and fuller range of motion. However, to prevent the injuries associated with hyperextension, the most common knee injury in action sports, some knee braces even offer hinge inserts, which reduce the amount of time the knee is in an at-risk position, or hyperextension lockouts, preventing you from overextending your knee, but also allowing you to adjust the angle of the lockout to best fit your riding style. The various parts of these knee braces, including pads and cups that cushion the knee, are easily replaceable, since they will wear out over time. Some knee braces are CE and medically certified. Check the ones you stock to be sure.
Finally, don’t forget knee brace undersleeves, which reduce the abrasion associated with knee guards. Undersleeves can feature moisture-wicking fabric, non-slip silicone bands as well as anti-microbial treatment for odor reduction. Furthermore, some are also compression undersleeves, which gently squeeze stretched vein walls, helping to circulate blood back to the heart. This provides more oxygen to the body, helping muscles recover and removing lactic acid buildup, thus providing enhanced performance and recovery.