This is Kohtaro, a Webike off-road rider. This article is about knee braces!
Hi everyone! Are you wearing a knee brace? Are you hesitant because it's too expensive? You don't wear it because it's too heavy and hinders your riding? Let's buy it now and wear it!
The reason I bring this up is because I have ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in both of my knees and have had reconstructive surgery. I wrote this article to reduce the number of off-road riders like myself who cannot sit upright or whose knees do not bend on a rainy day.
- What is a knee brace?
- Isn't a knee guard good enough?
- Recommended Knee Brace
- Extra, true story! From ruptured ligaments to the return of competition!
What is a knee brace?
To say it simply, it is a brace that prevents the knee from bending in the wrong direction. When off-roading, injuries can occur when you fall or jump and your knee bends in the opposite or lateral direction. It sounds painful just reading the text, doesn't it? Knee braces are originally a medical device used to protect ligaments after surgery, but in motocross and enduro, the rate of damage to knee ligaments is so high that special products are sold that include a set of protectors to reduce interference with riding.
Most of the models have hinges on the frame, as shown in the image, that allow you to adjust the angle of the bending range. The hinge prevents the knee joint from bending in the opposite direction, and the frame prevents it from bending laterally.
Isn't a knee guard good enough?
I don't want to spend 500-1000 USD, and I don't want to be reckless, right? I can understand why you would think that. But injuries can happen suddenly. Knee guards will not protect your ligaments and meniscus! It is not an exaggeration to say that only the surface skin can be protected.
It is said that off-road riders can be divided into 2 groups.
- Riders who buy knee braces before breaking ligaments
- Riders who buy knee braces after breaking their ligaments
Who do you think is wiser?
Recommended Knee Brace
This is the manufacturer that I see most users are using. One of the reasons for its popularity is that spare parts are available in abundance and can be repaired by yourself in case of damage. In many cases, knee braces from other companies are sent to the importer for repair. Vectran fiber, which is 5 times stronger than steel, is used as the core material, and is covered with a flexible urethane plastic, which is built into the hinge. This artificial health system is a unique system patented by POD.
K8 2.0 Knee Brace
A high-end model of forged carbon frame that combines lightness and strength. The protector follows the movement of the knee to protect it from all kinds of impacts, and fits naturally to the rider's knee. The advanced straps hold the tibias and thighs securely, reducing discomfort from slippage.
K4 2.0 Knee Brace
This model has the same functions as the top grade carbon model "K8 2.0", but the frame is made of fiberglass to make it more affordable. Available in 3 sizes: XS/S, M/L, XL/2XL.
LEATT, famous for its neck brace, also sells knee braces. Since LEATT is newer than other manufacturers, it has its own interesting mechanism.
X-FRAME Knee Brace
An advanced model with an injection carbon composite frame and asymmetrical hinges. Only the inner hinge is 40% slimmer to reduce discomfort during knee grip. The angle can be adjusted in the range of 5°, 10°, 15° and 20° to reduce ligament damage.
C-FRAME Knee Brace
The LEATT C-Frame Knee Brace is an advanced model that uses LEATT's unique single-sided hinge design. The C-Frame knee brace has a single side hinge design that focuses on the 2 ligaments that are most at risk of damage when riding a motorcycle: the anterior cruciate ligament and the lateral ligament. There are no hinges on the inside, so it's hard to get a better knee grip & the hinge hurts when it hits, which is a common problem with knee braces! The hinges are geared for smooth operation and come with 4 different spacers to limit the angle.
Z-FRAME Knee Brace
An entry-level model that is lightweight and offers excellent cost performance. Anyway, it is slim and easy to fit into boots and less likely to interfere with clothing. This is a great alternative to the popular DUAL AXIS knee shin guards, and I highly recommend it!
ASTERISK was founded by a group of people who had been developing orthopedic devices and a few motocross riders. ASTERISK is one of the few brands that specializes in knee braces, and is able to respond flexibly to feedback and improvements from riders by focusing on almost everything from design to production and assembly in the Made in USA. In short, they are an old and well-established manufacturer, and as such, they have the best technology.
ULTRA CELL 3.0 Knee Brace
The ULTRA CELL 3.0 Knee Brace is equipped with a 4-pivot system that achieves ergonomic 3D movement. It can follow lateral movements like a human knee, allowing for smooth riding. Of course, limitations on the movement of the hinge area will be applied to forces that may be considered dangerous. The calves and thighs can be custom-fitted by changing the tension of the two interior plates, giving the wearer a custom-made fit.
Extra, true story! From ruptured ligaments to the return of competition!
What happens if you have a broken knee?
If you've ever had any kind of ligament rupture, you know what I'm talking about. I could feel a definite sound of something snapping from inside my body. Immediately afterwards, the adrenaline will allow me to walk a little or ride my motorcycle back to the paddock. But after half a day or so, the internal bleeding gets worse, and I end up with a knee that doesn't bend at all. In this case, the only thing I can do is just keep icing and bear the discomfort.
Examination and treatment
The ligament cannot be determined whether it is broken using an x-ray, so an MRI is used to diagnose the problem. So, if I went to a hospital that has MRI facilities, I will not have to go through this twice. And since broken ligaments do not regenerate and do not stick together, reconstructive surgery is required. If you're active with a broken ligament, the meniscus will shave off and you'll lose it! If the range of motion is not increased before the surgery, the knee will not be able to bend at all after the surgery, and preoperative rehabilitation will be done to achieve the same level of range of motion and muscle mass as a healthy knee before the surgery. (About 3 months)
1 week to 1 month of hospitalization is required (depending on the hospital's policy). If you are a workaholic, you may not be able to make time for this. It's an endoscopic surgery, so it doesn't put too much strain on the body, but it's painful enough that you can't sleep when you wake up from the anesthesia. The surgery is performed at the same time as the meniscus is damaged, which adds about 2 hours to the time required.
In my case, rehabilitation started the day after the surgery. You can fix your legs to the machine and force them to bend gradually, or you can hold your knees in your hands and bend it. Once you are able to bend to a certain extent, the main focus will be on muscle training to bring back the muscles that you had lost. The reconstructed person's legs have become amazingly thin and slim, beautiful legs lol.
With meniscus damage → about 1 month
Without meniscus damage → about 2 months
If you are a train commuter, it is extremely difficult.
Return to competition
It requires at least 6 months of rehabilitation, preferably a year. It is said that the 3rd month is the most common time for ruptures to occur, as the timing coincides with the ability to move around a bit and the strength of the transplanted ligament being at its weakest. Take your time to heal.
I had to go through this process twice! I couldn't ride a motorcycle for almost two years, considering the period of pre-rehabilitation and post-operative rehabilitation.
I have told you about the importance of knee braces, including my experience. Some people have no injuries without a knee brace, and wearing a knee brace does not always protect the ligaments and meniscus. However, wearing a knee brace is far better for protecting your body than not wearing one.
Motorcycles can be fixed where they are broken as long as you can afford to pay for it, but the human body can't be made brand new no matter how much you pay for it, and it takes money and a lot of time to get it back to its original state. A knee brace can reduce that risk by 500-1000 USD, so take the plunge and buy one before things get beyond your control! You won't have to wait as long for regenerative medicine as I did!