Skiing is a sport you either love or hate. That feeling of adrenaline as you speed through fresh powder or those fun family ski weekends. But as you get more confident and quicker, the risk of serious injury to the knee also increases.
Improved ski designs over the last few decades mean we can go faster, but the faster you ski the harder you fall. Ski manufacturers are now working on smart bindings that auto-release when they sense a fall, preventing the twisting forces on the knee that often leads to ACL damage. Unfortunately ‘electro-mechanical’ ski bindings are still several years away from widespread use.
Until then, the best knee brace for skiing is your best bet for treating and preventing knee injuries while adding stability as you ski. Like any extreme sport, you’ll want a knee brace that’s both lightweight yet supportive and doesn’t limit your movement too much. Let’s take a look at how the best knee brace for skiing can make your ski trip safer and more enjoyable, before looking at some of the best knee braces available.
Why You Need the Best Knee Brace for Skiing
Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries in everyday society, after all the knee supports the whole weight of your upper body. But the prevalence is much higher in skiers with serious knee injuries increasing despite the overall injury rate falling. Knee injuries account for nearly one-third of all skiing injuries.
The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) of the knee has always been one of the most common knee injuries with a twist of the knee often causing an MCL sprain. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are also common in skiing, caused by landing from a jump onto a bent knee or landing on a knee that’s been over extended. In the following YouTube video, a Canadian physiotherapist looks at ACL injuries and how you can avoid them.
What to Look for in the Best Knee Brace for Skiing
Size is the most important factor when choosing a knee brace. A knee brace that’s too loose won’t offer enough support, whereas one that’s too tight will be uncomfortable to wear and limit your movement. Check the manufacturer’s sizing guide (many include specs on how to measure yourself) as it can be annoying having to return products time after time.
Knee support designs have two main choices; open patella or closed. Certain injuries will benefit from being supported by pressure applied to the patella but other injuries may become worse with extra pressure on the knee cap. Speaking with a medical professional will help you to decide which one is right for your condition.
Some of the less expensive knee braces are commonly sleeves with a slip-on neoprene design. Slip-on braces normally fit a certain size range and have very little adjustability. A wrap around will feature some form of locking system, usually Velcro that allows for a custom fit with hinges or support stabilizers for added support.
Knee sleeves will normally offer less support but can provide compression and a therapeutic warmth for quicker recovery from knee injuries. Braces with integrated stabilizers usually feature steel or rigid supports either side of the knee for more support. The most advanced knee braces use two sections, often sleeves, with hinges to provide a lateral support system around your knee.
What Is the Best Knee Brace for Skiing?
There are many different options available when looking for the best knee brace for skiing, from aluminum frames to neoprene sleeves with hinges, it can be confusing knowing which is best for you. We’ve looked at many of the top-selling models to bring you five products which all go off-piste to be the best knee brace for skiing.
For many people who take part in athletic sports, including skiing, wearing some form of knee support can be a critical part of their everyday life. But anybody can benefit from a knee brace to ensure your ski trip ends on a more positive note. The best knee brace for skiing will offer support to your knees while preventing many common skiing injuries. If you do suffer an ACL and/or MCL injury, it may require several months of healing but a knee brace can provide support, structure and alignment to help your confidence and keep your knee in place.
In our opinion, the DonJoy Armor Knee Support Brace with FourcePoint Hinge is the best knee brace for skiing you can buy today, even at its much higher price. Although it may not offer any compression, it does provide unparalleled levels of support with a specially patented FourcePoint hinge and DonJoy’s acclaimed four-point leverage system. Although less expensive knee braces are available, if you’re serious about your skiing, recommendations don’t come much higher than a brace used by the Ski Team USA.