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James McCormack is a Physical Therapist who specialises in knee, foot & ankle injuries. www.james-mccormack.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Many people wear a knee brace for skiing to give their knee more support after an injury or to prevent injury. There is a large market of knee braces for skiing that are available to buy. They range from simple elasticated knee sleeves, all the way to structured professionally fitted knee braces. So it can be daunting deciding on which one to get if you decide you need one. But who really needs a knee brace for skiing anyway?
After an injury to the knee your physical therapist, consultant or surgeon might recommend that you wear a brace. A skiing knee brace is not to replace the need for good physical therapy and rehabilitation but in addition to it. If you have had an injury to your knee it may have caused damage to tissues that have needed time to repair and may have therefore become weak. In many injuries of the knee, the quadriceps muscles will often become inhibited and therefore functionally weak.
The quadriceps muscle group, as well as the glutes, and heavily used with skiing, hence why the popular pre-ski workouts involve a lot of squats and wall sits. If the quads are weak they are not only less able to hold you in the correct position to swish down the slopes, but they will not be able to support and protect the knee from injury. Therefore, in all circumstances, the muscle of your leg should be strong enough for the activity. But if there is a specific area of weakness, such as with the lateral stability of the knee, following a ligament injury, for example, this is where a brace can come in handy.
Yes. Maybe. Wearing a brace can be very comforting and reassuring, and after injuries a large barrier to progress is confidence. There is nothing wrong with wearing a brace for a bit of moral support. An elasticated sleeve is a great option for this, the tight contact on your skin can also help with proprioception, which is the awareness of the position of your knee. Improved awareness will improve control.
Skiing has a high rate of injury across the board. Professional skiers are often pushing their limits in training and in competition. Often the limits are related to their injury and they may be returning to the slopes as soon as possible, much earlier than might be advised for a recreational skier. In these cases, a brace to offer a reminder that they are still recovering from an injury might be helpful. This might just remind them that they do still need to have some limits even if pain or function is not limiting them.
Recreational skiing can be gently sliding along in snow-plough on a beginner’s slope, to jumping out of a helicopter and skiing off-piste in challenging terrain, and everything in between. Ages, health, strength and fitness also vary widely among recreational skiers. Recommending the best brace for “a skier” is not going to be satisfactory for many skiers. You are best to have a discussion with your physical therapist, consultant or surgeon and see what they advise is best for you specifically.
The Neenca compressive sleeve is a good option for those that need little support but would benefit from the compression that increases proprioception, and awareness of the knee’s position. This is slim and doesn’t feel bulky to wear under clothing. It is also breathable and easy to wash.
The DonJoy Performance Bionic can be used as a knee brace for skiing. It has short side bars to provide stability without feeling cumbersome. It has been designed for sports, so is made of sweat-wicking material and can be easily washed. It also has a non-slip design to keep it in position.
The Bauerfeind GenuTrain S is a long brace with hinged side bars for good lateral stability and support. It has been designed to be used for sport so it is flexible and provides some compression to increase proprioception. It is therefore a very good knee brace for skiing. It is on the higher end of the price range it is fully washable and durable, so can be used for many seasons on the slopes as well as summer sports.
See our related article all about the best knee braces after ACL injury which include ACL knee brace for skiing: ACL Braces
This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.