Whether motorised or pedal-powered, two wheels are an increasingly popular form of transportation, recreation, sport and maintaining fitness.
On or off-road we use our legs for stabilisation as we negotiate hazards, obstacles and uneven terrain.
Be prepared – the unexpected happens
Unfortunately for most riders, interest in knee protection begins after an injury. We can be left with pain and swelling, months of limping. Sometimes a full recovery can take years.
A study in 2003 placed ligament injuries as the most common injury experienced by MotoX riders with broken bones taking second place.
The ligaments are the bands of tough fibrous tissue which support and stabilise the knee joint and help prevent the knee moving beyond its normal range of movement.
Extreme biking activities, particularly motorbike sports increase the levels of force the knee can experience. Sprains and strains can heal naturally with care and rest however ligament tears and ruptures may require surgery to repair or replace.
PROTECTING THE KNEE
- Fitness – The most significant factor in a successful recovery from serious knee injury is physiotherapy. Building up the other mechanisms in the knee help to strengthen and stabilise the joint during the healing process. So, strengthening the knee and the surrounding muscles can only help protect the knee.
- Improving your technique – Always work to improve your riding style to minimise any situations which might lead to injury.
- Bike set up - Ensure your bike and equipment are correctly set up and properly maintained.
- Equipment - A great general rule to follow is “All the Gear All the Time” (ATGATT). Headgear, padded protective clothing and protective footwear are all considered standard precautions, but the knee is still woefully neglected, or at least until some damage is done. For extreme biking, MotoX, Enduro or mountain biking, simple knee guards are considered essential, but in-reality will only offer very basic support.
They can only protect against ROOST (dirt and debris kicked up by a spinning wheel) or a direct impact with the ground.
It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. Some knee guards are marketed as knee braces but are not. But how do you pick the best knee braces?
According to research use of a strong, well-fitting knee brace, can halve the risk of serious knee injury and will help protect against:
- Hyper extension – extending the knee further forward than normal which damages the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament).
- Twisting forces – planting the foot on the ground during a turn can seriously injure the MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament).
- Sudden jolts and impacts usually incurred when landing from a jump – damaging the meniscus.
A study in 2011 – “Knee Injuries and the use of Prophylactic knee bracing in off-road Motorcycling” looked at 2115 off-road riders and based findings from over 40,000 hours of time in the saddle.
By far ligament damage was the most common injury.
The study recommends the use of a good quality & well fitted knee brace especially for riders:
- With previous injuries.
- Aged 40+.
- Ambitious riders with an “aggressive” style.
Whatever you need from a knee brace you need one that ticks all the boxes. Using CTi knee braces as a benchmark there are clear indications of what qualities to look for in a serious knee brace.
Made from carbon fibre with titanium hinges for strength and while remaining light, CTi are rugged enough to deal with almost anything an extreme sport can throw at them– which is why they are used for various extreme sports… skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and all manner of biking sports.
Always try a brace for fit before purchase. You will be wearing the brace for extended periods of time and a good fit is important as well as ensuring the brace will do its job properly.
Even better look at custom-made braces which are tailored to the individual rider. With the best possible fit, a rider can be confident that they have the best protection possible.
Motorbike sports throw high levels of forces at the knee. Planting the foot with an outstretched leg runs a real risk of twisting the foot outwards whilst riding. The CTi protects the ACL by restricting over extension and to minimise the rotation forces to lower the chances of injury to the MCL.
Impact from landing awkwardly also exposes the knee to the risk of hyper-extension.
ITS HOW WE ROLL
How-ever you prefer your two-wheeled adventures, knowing you are protected gives you the confidence to relax and fully enjoy the experience.
Always remember the most important piece of kit for any sport is your own body. Looking after yourself is always the best way to enjoy your sport.