Monthly Archives: December 2010

Sugarloaf Accident: Warnings Came Too Late

Skiers help their fallen peers after collapse

Skiers help their fallen peers after collapse

On Tuesday, the Brace Shop reported an accident atop the Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine when one of the lift cables derailed and sent several skiers tumbling to the ground.  Perhaps the worst feeling in the world came from the maintenance technicians who declared the lift to be unsafe just moments before the accident.  Reports have indicated that Spillway East was shut down earlier that morning when the cable was eerily outside the safety of its track.  But as a result of the busy skiing season, the lift was reopened soon after.  Yikes!

When workers viewed the cable again at 10:30, the situation could not have been more urgent.  The lift was slowed and employees were told not to let anyone else get on.  Imagine being the last one to get on a chair and hearing the people behind you say that the lift is closed to further riders for safety reasons.  Again, Yikes!

Although this is the busiest ski week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s, Sugarloaf was fortunate that more people were not injured.  To date, only five chairs fell to the ground and only six people were injured, none of whom were up against any life-threatening danger.  The most notable pain that seems to be lingering for the injured is in their lower back, perhaps not unsimilar to the abrupt shock of a fender bender where sufferers feel a gradual aching and occasional sharpness, but nothing severe. 

The Sugarloaf cable in question is nearly 35 years old, but like ski resorts across the United States and around the world, these lifts are inspected daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.  When an accident like this happens, we usually want to point a finger and lay blame on someone who dropped the ball.  No doubt Sugarloaf will take their share of hits from patrons who choose to ski elsewhere for a few years, but one of the injured, a 63-year-old woman named Mimi Michaud, said that amidst her pain (whiplash and bruised ribs), she didn’t want to give her ski resort of many years a black eye.  With the exception of an occasionally terrifying moment like this past week, chair lifts are routinely very safe and you should enjoy every bit of this ski season.

Twas the Night of My Injury

‘Twas the night of my injury, and all through the house

My loved ones were working, no thought for my pouts;

The clothing was hung by the drier to dry,

In hopes that my wife would remember to cry;

No luck for my whimpers since she laughed at my fall,

I asked for this pain when I chose to play ball.

The sport of our Pole is snowballs on ice, 

But now I will watch and never play twice.

Too big, too old, too gray they say,

My hair is not gray it is white if I may.

Each elf had a smile from their candied new slings

For as I went down, all I felt were the stings.

Of a bruise and a sprain throbbing right up my leg

Now I sit near to midnight when the children will beg. 

Let’s hope they lay sleeping and Christmas awaits,

While Santa just sleeps and stays off the skates.

 With cushions and pillows the reindeer will lift,

And I will lay back as my wife drops each gift.

 My leg is raised up and our sleigh is pulled tight, 

Happy Christmas to all, wish me luck this good-night!

A Snowball Fight with Santa

Zorbing: Human Gerbils in the Winter

Zorbing on a Ski Slope

Zorbing on a Ski Slope

Remember putting your gerbil in a plastic bubble and watching it run all over the house?  Perhaps you wondered what it would feel like to get into the bubble and play along.  In 1990, American Gladiators showed their players rolling around in what were called Atlaspheres.  And by 1994, the concept of sitting in a plastic globe to roll down a hill was named Zorbing (a twist on ‘orbit’, the curved path of an object around a point in space).

Now, just because David Letterman can do it on a closed set and Joseph Gordin-Levitt can do it with security down 53rd street, doesn’t necessarily mean that Zorbing is the best idea for an open ski slope.  Two years ago, a reporter from Maine was invited to try Zorbing at a local ski area.  And what reporter can turn down an exciting new adventure, right?  Rebekah Metzler, representing the Sun Journal, was told that the activity was ‘reasonably safe’, but common sense would have suggested otherwise.  Her giant ball went wildly off track and soon put her in the hospital with a broken back (see our wide selection of back braces).

Today, Metzler has filed suit against the ski establishment and demanded compensation for what amounts to a loss of job, loss of earnings, and loss of earning capacity.  Even after two years, she continues to pay medical expenses that are also wildly out of control.  Not to mention, attorneys allege that the ski area had not acquired the necessary state permits to allow such publically advertised activities on their land.  Seems the law may be on her side, but recovery will take much, much longer.

What About Tennis Elbow?

The Pain of Tennis Elbow

The Pain of Tennis Elbow

By now, you’ve probably heard that you don’t have to play tennis to have Tennis Elbow.  A large percentage of tennis players end up battling with TE, but so do golfers (earning the name ‘Golfer’s Elbow’) and everyday workers.  So what is it, how do you get it, and how do you solve it?

What is Tennis Elbow?

Simply put, Tennis Elbow is the excessive overuse of the forearm or elbow resulting in minor to severe pain upon continued use.  Technically put, this pain stems from the muscles and tendons of the forearm where they attach to the outer or inner bones of the elbow (sometimes called epicondylitis).  More than likely, if you are right handed, then any bout of Tennis Elbow will end up on your right side because this is your dominant arm (and vice versa with the left hand).

How do you get Tennis Elbow?

Those repetitive motions that demand work from your hand, your wrist, or your elbow are most likely to cause Tennis Elbow.  For example, swinging a bat over and over or bowling strikes for hours on end.  Even the person who scrubs and scrubs a floor may be at risk.

How do you solve Tennis Elbow?

A simple answer is hot and cold therapy.  An even simpler answer is rest.  You can’t expect a worn elbow to stop hurting if you keep pushing it to the limit.  A little ibuprofen or even a cortisone injection may help distract you from the pain, but it will never replace a change of pace for the sore limb.

Eclipse: Lights Out on Brett Favre

Favre Down and Out Cold
Favre Down and Out Cold

Just hours before the sky gave us its full lunar eclipse, Brett Favre, who had talked his way back into the starting lineup with the Minnesota Vikings for Monday Night Football, was knocked out of the game by Corey Wootton of the Chicago Bears.  Normally an eclipse takes almost three hours, but in this case, the lights were out on Favre the moment his head hit the ground of TCF Bank Stadium.  He wasn’t in Green Bay.  This was not his frozen tundra.  But the ground was like ice and his head broke the fall.



No one wants to say that Favre asked for it and yet, the ageless abominable snowman keeps coming back to play in America’s most violent sport.  During the first decade of his career, Favre watched Troy Aikman and Steve Young, both Super Bowl winners, go down in a similar fashion, but by season’s end, they had each announced their retirements.  These days, Aikman is a much-respected announcer for FOX Sports while Young serves as a much-respected analyst for ESPN and Monday Night Football.  Both men knew their limits and walked through the open doors that awaited.

Head injuries are no laughing matter.  Nor is the game of football.  Those who watched Monday’s game know that Favre was wearing a helmet when his head hit the ground, yet he still felt the eclipse of an unexpected concussion.  The most powerful equipment and apparel does not make a player invincible, but instead, adds a layer of solid protection that wasn’t there before.  Imagine that same scenario if Corey Wootton was chasing down a quarterback who had no helmet and no pads.  Tuesday morning’s water cooler conversation might have been very different.

As the NFL playoffs come near, a great many football fans are out playing the game in a nearby field or park.  The Brace Shop recommends taking every precaution to avoid injury.  Please visit our most popular football products and play safe!

Mike Weir: Digging Out of a Hole

Mike Weir, Golfing with an Elastic Brace

Mike Weir, Golfing with an Elastic Brace

A pudgy Tom Hanks once told us that there was no crying in baseball.  Now imagine the same film – only this time about golf – and you might hear something like, ‘There’s no pain in swinging a club’!  Try telling that to Mike Weir, who recently took three months off to rest his elbow and study the game.

If you’re new to the sport of professional golf, then Mike Weir is probably just off your radar screen since he ranked out of the top 125 for the first time since he burst on the scene in 1998.  But Weir is no amateur.  You name the tour and Weir probably has a trophy for it… Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Nissan Open, Masters Tournament, etc. The problem is, he tore a ligament in his right elbow that ended his season earlier than he would have liked in 2010.

Given the right frame of mind, an athletic injury can give professionals the time they need to study their game, to analyze their opponents without pressure, and to come back mentally and physically stronger than ever.  Still, no athlete wants to end a season early and sit on the sideline as a viewer.  Weir’s injury was originally thought to be a nagging case of tendonitis, but after taking the time get an overdue examination, the severity of elbow damage was too obvious.  Proper healing would demand three months of rest and physical therapy.

Today, Weir is back on the golf course with a medical exemption for the 2011 season (hoping to pick up $227,885 over five events to earn a place in the Tour).  He wears an elastic elbow support that reduces any swelling or pain that might come by putting his arm back to work.  Taking the right precautions, Weir might be able to dig himself out of a hole.

False Starts on the Blind Side

Michael Oher on the Offensive Line

Michael Oher on the Offensive Line

Since their Super Bowl win earlier in the decade, the Baltimore Ravens have consistently been among the more intimidating teams in the NFL.  On defense, that is.  When it comes to offense, the Ravens have been relatively average.  Not bad… just average.  Their offensive line, however, received some attention in Hollywood when a film about Michael Oher (who works to protect the quarterback’s blind side) earned Sandra Bullock her first Academy Award.  That film, The Blind Side, made Oher a household name and seemingly put his Baltimore offense on the map.

This season, unfortunately, Oher has a team high seven false starts.  When an offensive lineman commits a false start, they either have difficulty hearing the snap count or there is some reason to flinch.  During a game in Tampa Bay last month, Oher went out with a sprained knee and was questionable for the following week against the Steelers.  With Pittsburgh and Baltimore having such a heated rivalry, Oher was allowed to play.  And the false starts continued.

One of the greatest complaints about Oher during the Steelers game was that he never even considered a knee brace.  Specifically, a DonJoy knee brace.  Critics noted that he was making far too much money to be playing chicken against James Harrison, a man who eats quarterbacks for breakfast.  You may remember Harrison as that 250-pound lineman who intercepted Kurt Warner at the goal line during Super Bowl XLIII and ran the ball back 100-yards for a touchdown at the end of the first half.   Yes, that guy.   This year alone, Harrison has had late hits and body slams on Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans and Drew Brees of the reigning New Orleans Saints.  Yes, that guy.  And Michael Oher chose not to where a brace when his knee was already sprained. Well, the Steelers beat up the Ravens and took home a win.

Oher may be a legend in Hollywood, but on the football field he owes Baltimore fans his best.  Braces are not meant to hinder an athlete’s play, but to support their game.  The Ravens managed to come back and walk all over Houston last Monday night, but now they must face the defending Super Bowl champion Saints who are on a seven-game winning streak.  New Orleans is among the top ten teams in the NFL for defensive touchdowns.  Look out Michael Oher.  You’re not invincible.

Favre: It Never Hurt Like This

Well, it’s over.  The streak, that is.  Brett Favre may well play again, but for now, his 297 straight starts over the course of a 20-year NFL career have ended.  For sports fans, this is big.  Perhaps no bigger than his almost-retirement from football in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but big nonetheless.  With no hope of the playoffs, Favre could only watch as his Minnesota Vikings were laid to waste by the New York Giants during a delayed and relocated game in Detroit on Monday night. 

Some are asking how a man who endured injury after injury for so many years could have been shut down with what appears to be nothing more than a body slam.  Simple.  With all that Favre has been through, the one thing he’s never battled is a neck injury.  In this case, he has a sprain to the sternoclavicular joint, which not only impacts his ability to throw, but also the feeling in his hands and arms.  NFL commentators can wander through a laundry list of recorded injuries since 1992 and they’ll find he’s had damage to almost everything other than the neck: his back, side, elbow, knee, thumb, hamstring, forearm, ankle, hip, groin, chin, calf, shoulder, and yes, the list could keep going.

The sternoclavicular joint is crucial for supporting the shoulder.  A minor sprain would just need a small ice pack over three or four days, but a moderate to severe sprain (like getting hit from behind by a 250-pound linebacker named Arthur Moats) demands four to six weeks of healing with the aid of a figure-eight strap.  An example of this is the Ossur Figure 8 Clavicle Splint.

During a post-game interview, Favre was asked how this injury compared with others over his 20-year career and he simply said, “It never hurt like this.”  Indeed, for those who were hoping they might see him return after a single week out, the chances are good he’s done for the season.  After all, with only a few weeks left, the man-of-steel has no reason to risk it.

The RICE Method for a Pulled Hamstring

Rest it.  Ice it.  Compress it.  Elevate it.  That’s what physicians call the RICE method for treating a hamstring injury.  Problem is, if you need to ice and compress your hamstring, a simple ice pack just won’t suffice.  The Brace Shop offers an Active Wrap Knee Hot/Cold Therapy  option to combine the icing and compression process without adding discomfort or awkward positioning of the leg.  If you happen to have a hamstring injury, take a moment to consider just how frequent this problem really is for athletes who use their legs and knees to run or sprint everyday.

Today in Soccer: Sunderland’s Anton Ferdinand is out for three to four weeks after grabbing for his leg while kicking a ball out of play.

Today in the NFL: Houston’s Owen Daniels is coming back after several weeks recovering from a hamstring tear.  Miami’s Brandon Marshall was happy to have an extra week last Sunday for his hamstring to heal, saying that the rest made him far more prepared for this week.  Washington’s Ryan Torain missed four games from a hamstring injury and will be returning this                 week.

Today in the NBA: Boston’s Rajon Rondo has a laundry list of injuries, but in a Sunday night game against the Nets, a new hamstring injury added to his woes.

Point is, you’re not alone.  The hamstring takes about three to four weeks for a full recovery, but even then, an average person should be cautious with their immediate activity.

Brett Favre: Where No Brace Will Do

If you live within the hearing range of any football stadium, radio station, or television, then chances are, you’ve heard of a man called Brett Favre.  The long-time-Green-Bay-Packer-turned-New-York-Jet-turned-Minnesota-Viking has been knocked down, knocked out, and pushed around, but he always manages to get back up to the chagrin of his opponents.  Right now, the future Hall of Fame quarterback has come near to starting his 300th game, a statistic almost impossible for any human being to achieve and still look as good.  They call him the man who just won’t quit.  That is, until a clavicle injury put him on the sideline and forced him to consider an end to the streak.

The injury has been labeled a sprain to the sternoclavicular (SC) joint, which essentially means that although it affects his throwing shoulder, the problem is really in the center of his chest where the clavicle meets the sternum.  Take a look at where Favre is putting his hand:

Brett Favre with a hand to his clavicle

Brett Favre with a hand to his clavicle

Looks pretty painful.  And as it turns out, the injury is in such a location that no brace can actually help.  With all the private medical attention that someone like Brett Favre receives, it’s hard to know about his healing process other than what we see on the field.  The average football fan just wants to know if his arm is strong enough to hit his receivers, or weak enough to toss an interception (though for real fans of the game, we know he’ll throw 2 interceptions even when he’s healthy).  If you were to face an injury to the SC joint like Favre did, what options would you have for therapy?

The Brace Shop offers a number of cost effective clavicle supports that are both comfortable and convenient to wear.  But without seeing him at practice on a daily basis, it’s hard to know what the NFL’s Superman is using to heal himself.  And under all those pads on Sunday, we may never know.