Off-Road Motorcyclists Wear Knee Braces

Off-Road Motorcyclists Should Wear Knee Braces Just in Case

The just-in-case factor is one practice in sports that is hotly debated. Should I wear a knee brace "just-in-case" I might injure my knee? This question arises any time an athlete participates in a contact sport with the potential for traumatic injuries. Add high speeds and difficult terrain in the dangerous and intense sport of off-road motorcycling and you may find yourself reaching for that brace, too.

But does a knee brace really protect you or anyone else participating in sports like off-road motorcycling? That's the question raised (and answered) in this article. The information comes from a survey placed on the Internet and completed by over 2,000 off-road motorcycle riders.

Data was collected for one-year. Participants in track, off-road, motocross (MX), and other types of riding from around the world responded. Riders were asked about injuries (type, severity, frequency), riding hours, and use of prophylactic (preventive) knee bracing. The results were compared between riders who wore a brace just-in-case and those who did not.

They found that fewer injuries were reported by riders who wore preventive braces. Riders who didn't wear a brace were more likely to injure their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the meniscus (cartilage) in the knee, or their medial collateral ligament (MCL).

All kinds of braces were worn so it was not possible to see if one type of brace worked better than another. The mechanism of injury was often using the knee as a pivot when coming around a corner at a high rate of speed. Landing with the knee over extended after a high-speed jump was another factor in knee injuries.

The authors make note of the fact that other studies similar to this one have been done in the past. But this may be the first in quite a while and the only one to be done after some of the newer braces have come out specifically designed for off-road biking.

By taking pressure off the ACL, these knee braces do seem to be making a difference in the number and severity of knee injuries. In fact, riders who do not wear a knee brace are twice as likely to suffer knee injuries compared with those who do wear the brace. That conclusion confirms the importance of prophylactic ("just-in-case") bracing for riders engaged in any of these off-road biking events.

Reference: Mark S. Sanders, MD, et al. Knee Injuries and the Use of Prophylactic Knee Bracing in Off-Road Motorcycling. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. July 2011. Vol. 39. No. 7. Pp. 1395-1400.

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