Monthly Archives: December 2016

Protective Knee Braces for Ski Season

Skiing in field of snow

A popular topic among ski enthusiasts is knee injuries, which account for one-third of skiing accident or incident problems. For example, a twist of the knee leads to the most common knee sprain, the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL).  However, in recent years there has been a significant increase in the rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL).

Bracing is a great way to help minimize the risk of knee injury. With ski season upon us, educating yourself about knee bracing options is important. Wearing a brace can help prevent knee damage under certain circumstances. Continue reading

Workout Recovery Tips for Gymnasts and Cheerleaders

For cheerleaders and gymnasts, keeping their bodies at peak levels is very important to their success and safety. With tumbling lines and skills becoming more and more difficult, their bodies need time to relax and recuperate between each practice session and competition.

The post workout recovery of cheerleaders and gymnasts is crucial to their overall performance. It involves much more than just a good stretch, and a regular recovery regimen that’s practiced every day will certainly show results in their future performances.

Here are the top post-workout recovery tips for cheerleaders and gymnasts:

Stretching

The most obvious of post-workout requirements, stretching is key to a gymnast’s or cheerleader’s overall performance and recovery. Flexibility is crucial to performing the different moves required, and stretching helps to improve the muscle’s elasticity, as well as increasing muscle control and range of motion.

Gymnasts and cheerleaders will want so stretch every region of the body, from the legs and arms to their back and necks, to ensure that each area is relieved of tension. These at-home stretches are easy to do anywhere, and they hit all the various parts of the body.Woman lying on back pulling knees to stretch

Ice Therapy

Applying ice is one of the best ways to recover from acute injuries and high-intensity workouts and performances. Icing helps to decrease any pain in the area with a numbing effect, and reduces swelling and inflammation, which can cause tissue damage. It is suggested that athletes ice for 15-20 minutes after high-intensity workouts, and every hour, as they see fit.

Hydrate

Drinking water after a tough workout is extremely important to re-hydrate the body and reduce muscle soreness. Gymnasts and cheerleaders who train for long hours should make sure to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every half hour of exercise, and athletes may also consider drinking effective electrolyte supplements to replace those lost while working out.

Lighter exercise will only require water, but it’s a good idea to always stay hydrated throughout a practice, and after, to keep the muscles loose and comfortable.

Kid hydrating with water from water bottle

Bracing

Many of the stunts that are performed in gymnastics and cheerleading put a lot of pressure on the various joints of the body, including the knees, ankles, and shoulders. One great option in workout recovery is to invest in quality athletic bracing, which can help to relieve tension and pressure, increase muscle support and reduce chronic pain.

Because these athletes tumble a lot, there is a lot of repetitive wear and tear that can occur; knee braces for gymnastics and ankle braces for gymnastics are very common, and help to relieve that repetitive pressure on the joints to help perform and recover more efficiently.

Rest

Not many things are as beneficial and effective as taking a day off to let your body rest. Gymnasts and cheerleaders who compete in very high levels of the sport can train up to 6 days per week, clocking in over 20+ hours of training. While this is extremely efficient for their training regimens, it’s also important to take that extra day off and let the body recuperate.

Whether an athlete feels tired or not, they may push their bodies too far, regardless, which can increase the opportunities for injury and exhaustion. Giving muscles, joints, and bones a day to re-establish themselves and release any stress and tension is a great way to recover.

Woman lying down in bed to get rest

Eating

It’s important for athletes to remember that even with hard training and dedication, taking care of your body will be the most important factor to being successful. A body that is hydrated and well-fed will certainly perform and recover more quickly than one that is not getting the proper nutrients. As we work out, our bodies take energy from things we’ve previously eaten, and our muscles use available protein to rebuild within a few hours of a hard workout.

With that being said, making sure to eat and refuel your body after a workout is very important to recovery. It’s been suggested that proteins and carbohydrates are the best foods to put into your system after it has been working hard. Some of the most popular food items suggested include Greek yogurt, protein shakes, fruit, wholegrain cereals, and eggs.

Woman with cheerleading squad holding hands in air

For any athlete, the most important thing, next to a great performance, is a great recovery. There is no way you can continue to perform at your best when your body is not getting what it needs before and after hard workouts that use up all of your energy. To see the best results in performance, gymnasts and cheerleaders should consider the suggestions above to ensure that their post-workout recovery is safe and effective.

Kinesio Tape: Purpose and Tips for Use

There are always new products and trends entering into the world of sports. For athletes, it can sometimes be very hard to distinguish between which products really work, and which ones are best for their personal needs. One product that has been making waves more recently and creating a lot of discussion is called “Kinesio Tape.”

Diagram of arm wearing pink kinesio tape

What Is It?

Kinesio Tape was created by a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist named Kenzo Kase. Kase created the tape and started using the product in 1979, but only recently has it started to gain recognition and popularity. The tape’s creator can thank the London Olympics of 2012 for its newfound fame; many star athletes started wearing the tape during their performances and, since then, it’s been rumored that sales have tripled worldwide.

Kase initially wanted to create the tape when he found that the regular athletic tape material was too restricting. Kase believed that the tough material might be worsening injuries instead of alleviating them. He created a tape made of an elastic, cotton material with an acrylic adhesive, to better serve the purpose of alieving pain and assisting muscles.

Rolls of kinesio tape

How Does It Work?

The original athletic tape was meant specifically for offering stabilization and support, with little room for movement. The Kinesio Tape is meant to offer support to the muscles and stability to joints, without affecting circulation or the range of motion. The tape does this by reducing compression between the skin and the muscle that causes discomfort, and can help to reduce inflammation and reduce soreness. The space that is created between the skin and muscle is very slight, but it is enough to make a difference in the blood flow and release of pressure.

Athletes generally create a tight pull with the tape around the affected area using a variety of different patterns and designs. Depending on the design, athletes can tackle more than one muscle or sore area just by using a large piece of tape stretching across large or small sections.

Aside from helping specific muscles, the tape can gently tug specific areas to improve posture, increase blood flow, and help with lymphatic drainage.

Leg with kinesio tape being pulled around it

What Is Its Purpose?

The Kinesio Tape website explains that the tape is not only for athletes, but for everyday use as well. The tape can be used in the workplace for sore joints, at home while doing housework or gardening, and even just for simple everyday activities like walking.

Essentially, the tape is for anyone who is experiencing soreness or who wants to help relieve areas of tension. Whether this is caused by repetitive training, sport injuries, or poor posture, the tape is meant to help with all of these problems. The purpose of the tape is to be a more effective substitute than the restrictive options that regular tape used to offer.

Tips for Use

Before use, it is important that you have at least some level of training to tape yourself or someone else. Taping improperly can lead to great injury. The Kinesio Tape company has already trained over 100,000 sports doctors across the globe on the proper use of the product to ensure that athletes get the maximum benefits.

As a general rule, the skin should be dry and clean prior to applying tape, to ensure that it stays in place throughout performance. If you’re not sure if any lotion residue is still on the skin, simply wipe the area with rubbing alcohol to make sure it’s clean.

If you’re taping over joints, be sure that the joint is in a fully-bent position prior to taping. If the joint is in an extended position, then the tape will likely be pulled away when the joint is bent. For best results, make sure to firmly rub the tape from end to end, making sure that there are no bubbles or edges rising off of the skin. If you’re planning to use the tape for an athletic activity, try to apply the tape at least 30 minutes prior, so that the tape has enough time to adhere properly.

If you’re an athlete who wears any kind of bracing for sports, Kinesio Tape is thin and lightweight enough that it will fit comfortably underneath.

Kinesio Tape will not be able to heal an injury all on its own; there are many other practices that can work in combination with the tape to help protect injuries and relieve pain. Other rehabilitation and preventative options that can work alongside Kinesio Tape include quality bracing, strengthening exercises, and conditioning.

If you’re thinking about using Kinesio Tape for any reason, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor ahead of time to speak about your injuries. He or she may be able to suggest some alternative routes for proper healing.

Common Injuries During Football Season and How Braces Can Help

Football is sport that requires a lot of athleticism as well as a lot of strength. Depending on a player’s position, each individual puts a lot of pressure on their bodies to perform the duties expected of them. Moves can be anything from running and tackling, to changing direction quickly, to performing lateral movements and throwing.

Although football players practice these moves over and over, there is always still room for mistakes and injury. With common injuries plaguing many football players, there has been a lot of discussion around the topic of injury causes and prevention. The following are some of the common injuries during football season and how wearing braces can help.

Common Injuries

It was reported in 2015 that within two weeks of the regular season, more than fifteen percent of players had sustained an injury. The statistics were reported by the NFL and explained that there were 234 players experiencing an injury, which included 12 concussions, 2 neck injuries, and 40 knee injuries. In the 2013-2014 season there were over 1,300 injuries reported. The following are the most common injuries and how braces can help with injury prevention:Man falling down while holding football

Knee Joint

Injuries to the lower limbs are the most common for football players, with the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), and the meniscus being the most popular areas. Many of these injuries occur because of the amount of force and pressure put on the knees. Many players experience knee injuries from directional changes, knee-on-knee collisions, and tackles.

To help prevent injury in this area, it is suggested that players wear a sports knee brace that can help protect the areas most susceptible to injury. Quality football knee braces can help to decrease physical impact on the knee, while also preventing stop shock syndrome and providing maximum support and stability.

These knee braces fit comfortably over or under athletic wear and are made with lightweight materials that allow for proper functioning and a full range of motion.

Ankle Joint

The ankle is also susceptible to injury in football. With the quick footwork required, sideways tackles, and pressure to change direction quickly, the ankle joint can sometimes tear when momentum from the body leans in another direction. Ankle injuries might also occur because of the playing surface—players who experience a change in surface may experience ankle sprains and tears when they aren’t performing on a material that they are comfortable with.

To avoid ankle sprains and tears, players can consider wearing a football ankle brace. There are quite a lot of variations available, so players should look to their doctor for direction before making a decision on the style needed. Many of the braces available can help with common sprains by providing stability and support to the ankle, as well as keeping the ankle aligned to avoid tears.

A quality ankle brace will also be able to help decrease pain and reduce inflammation if a player is going to be performing with an injury. Players should look for a brace that has a maximum level of support, to ensure that even with tackles and directional changes the brace keeps the ankle balanced.Football player getting tackled by opposing team

Shoulder

Watching football, you’ll notice that the defensive and offensive linemen use their upper body strength to try to hold back or push through other players. These motions use a lot of shoulder strength that can sometimes result in dislocations, rotator cuff tears, and other injuries especially in the labrum (cartilage surrounding the socket of the shoulder) and the acromioclavicular joint (shoulder).

To help protect the shoulder from these kinds of injuries while playing, football shoulder braces can help provide some protection. Many of these braces help to protect external rotation in the shoulders and to maintain acromioclavicular stabilization. Because many players will still play regardless of their shoulder injury, shoulder braces can help alleviate some of the pain and improve arm recovery.

Be careful to pay attention to the types of shoulder braces available; some have very specific uses, like this shoulder brace, which are meant to help with problems like lower back pain, poor posture, and excessive tension in the clavicle muscles.Man catching football and making a touchdown

While it’s true that injuries are quite common in football, it is important that football players of all levels recognize the options for injury prevention. Options like sports braces are a great way to increase support and offer stabilization of existing injuries in various parts of the body. For those who are considering investing in a body brace for their football injuries, be sure to communicate with your team doctor or regular doctor before deciding which brace will suit your needs best.

Signs That You Might Need a Knee Brace

Our knee joints are incredibly important to our daily routine. Without fully-functioning knee joints it becomes incredibly difficult to perform simple tasks like rising, walking, using stairs and exercising. From doing everyday chores to performing high-intensity sports, our knees are vital to our performance, and it’s important that we protect them.

To protect the knee, a variety of support structures and braces have been developed for all kinds of issues regarding the tendons and bone structure of the knee joint. The different designs are meant for specific problems and functions, so it’s important that individuals wear the correct design. The most common functions of the knee brace are to prevent injury, stabilize the joint, and to protect injured knee joints during recovery.

If you’re thinking about investing in a knee brace but you’re not sure if it’s necessary, there are some signs you can look for. Consider these signs that you might need a knee brace:

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1. Weakness

 

runner-holding-kneeGeneral feelings of weakness in the knee joints may be a sign that you should invest in a knee brace. If you’re noticing that your knees give out during simple movements or become too tired to hold the weight of your body over time, a simple knee brace can offer some added support.

Some of the causes of a weak knee joint include previous injuries, arthritis, infections, and lack of activity over time. If you’ve experienced sprains or tears in the past, you may find that you are even more susceptible to reinjury of a feebler joint.

Whether you feel weakness during a sport or doing simple activities, consider this a sign that you may need to invest in a knee brace that will assist you in everyday activities. A knee brace will not reverse the symptoms you’re experiencing, but can be used in conjunction with other solutions to protect the area and prevent injury while it heals in its correct positioning.

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2. Asymmetric Leg Anatomy

 

Asymmetric leg anatomyIndividuals with asymmetrical leg anatomy may be suffering from one of two problems: Legs that are different lengths, commonly known as Unequal Leg Length, or misalignments in the pelvis or upper leg, known as Leg Length Alignment Asymmetry (LLAA).

Those with asymmetrical leg anatomy may be born with the issue or experience it due to a leg break, infection, or issues with their growth plates. For those with LLAA, one leg or hip sits higher and tighter than the other, creating the illusion that one leg is shorter.

If you’ve noticed signs of either of these symmetry problems, you might consider a knee brace meant to improve asymmetrical leg anatomy. This kind of brace will reinforce collateral ligaments, and improve knee stability and function.

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3. Previous Knee Injuries

 

If you’ve experienced previous knee injuries, this might be a sign to invest in a knee brace. Whether you’ve had small sprains or reconstructive surgery, the knee may require added support to perform the way it did originally.

Athletes, especially, should look for signs of weakness from previous knee injuries when considering a knee brace. Depending on the sport, athletes may be inserting the knee into high-contact situations, directional changes, or pressure that it cannot handle on its own after an earlier injury. For those who have already gone through injuries concerning the ACL, MCL, PCL, or LCL, a quality custom knee brace might help to ensure that the knee remains protected from re-injury.

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4. Contact Sports

 

men-contact-sportIndividuals who are going to be partaking in contact sports such as football, basketball, and hockey may want to consider this a sign to invest in a protective knee brace. The knee is very susceptible to injury in sports, and the most common causes of knee injuries are contact, change in direction, landing from a jump, and stopping suddenly.

Many athletes, whether previously injured or not, invest in knee braces simply to prevent injury during practice and game play. Depending on the sport, if you know that your knees are going to be performing some of the actions that cause most knee injuries, this may be a sign that you should invest in a knee brace.

It has been reported that sports with the greatest amount of ACL injuries include field hockey, gymnastics, soccer, skiing, lacrosse, snowboarding, and volleyball. Athletes most prone to MCL injuries include those partaking in hockey and wrestling. Contact and high-intensity sports should be a sign for individuals to look at their options when it comes to protecting their knee joints, so that they may continue to play with a healthy body for a long time.

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5. Low Contact/Impact Sports

 

man-playing-tennisEven if you’re only planning to partake in low-contact/impact sports, there is still the possibility for injury if you are not careful or your knee joints are not prepared. Although there are activities where contact is much more limited, sports such as tennis still require a lot of starting/stopping, changing of direction, and jumping.

If you’re going to be partaking in low-contact sports, this may be a sign that you should consider investing in a brace designed for low-no contact/impact sports. These braces will offer you the stability and protection you need from twists and sprains, while still allowing you to play comfortably.

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6. Instability

 

man-holding-kneeStability in the knee joint is maintained by a few components of the knee, including the four major ligaments: The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), and the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). Muscles over the joint also add a secondary level of stability.

Injury to any of the ligaments can cause a great amount of instability in the knee, and a breakdown may be cause for a knee brace to make up for the loss of support. If you feel a lack of strength and stability in any location in the knee joint, wearing a simple knee brace may help to decrease painful symptoms and take some of the pressure off of the injured ligament(s). A custom knee brace may help further, allowing the ligament to heal and protect it from re-injury during recovery.

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7. Hyperextension of the Knee

 

Individuals who possess a hyperextended knee may see this as a sign to invest in a quality knee brace. Hyperextended knees are knee joints that push past the normal range of motions when the leg is in a straightened position. When standing straight, the leg appears to curve backwards.

Mild hyperextension can be healed within a few weeks; however, moderate or severe hyperextension may be the result of tears in the ACL, MCL, or PCL. A knee brace that supports knee hyperextension, such as a CTi brace, offers a combination of protection and stabilization and helps to remove painful pressure points. If you’re noticing signs of hyperextension, a knee brace may be helpful in the healing and protection of the knee joint.

acl-knee-brace

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8. Arthritis

 

Arthritis is a very common issue that affects millions of Americans in various parts of the body. It is known to create painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and can sometimes deter individuals from using that part of their body.

knee-massageIndividuals who are experiencing arthritis of the knee may recognize the problem from a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common signs of arthritis in the knee joint include increased pain (commonly felt after inactivity), swelling in the area due to excessive fluids, or inflammation due to the formation of bone spurs in the knee joint. For some people, muscles and ligaments may weaken over time, forcing buckling, popping sounds, decreased range of motion, etc.

Those who have arthritis in their knees may notice signs when they struggle to get up in the morning, climb up stairs, run, or kneel down. If an individual is experiencing these signs, they may want to consider a knee brace that can help with symptoms of arthritis. The proper knee brace will help with those joints that have been weakened or which have experienced a breakdown in cartilage.

Many of these knee braces are specific to arthritis as well as osteoarthritis, and may help decrease anti-inflammatory medications and pain. Wearing a knee brace or sleeve will help to assist with general stability and functioning; however, they can also be extremely helpful when arthritis is located on one specific side.

Two of the best types of braces for signs of arthritis include an “unloader” knee brace that shifts the weight away from the affected area, while a “support” brace will help to assist the entire knee load. While a knee brace is not the only solution to arthritis of the knee joint, it may be used in conjunction with a variety of other solutions for overall relief.

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9. Inflammation and Swelling

 

knee-pain-injuryA swollen knee or “water on the knee” can be sign of a number of things happening in the joint. For some it may be as simple as icing the knee and resting the joint, while other causes can be severe and should be looked at by a medical professional.

Some smaller issues, such as minor injuries, minor arthritis, and minor bursitis can be treated at home. However, swelling that is painful and long-lasting, or that impedes movement, should be treated more seriously. In many cases, the knee will require elevation and compression to rid itself of the swelling.

If you notice that your knee has grown in size or is becoming filled with fluids, these may be signs that you could use a knee brace. Many of the quality knee braces available help to compress the area and reduce swelling/inflammation.

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10. Kneecap Pain

 

Consistent kneecap pain may be a sign of weakness in the area or a softening of the cartilage. Without the supportive cartilage, the bones can begin to rub together and cause a lot of pain with even the simplest of actions.

Individuals who notice signs of kneecap pain may consider investing in a knee brace that can help with this problem specifically. A neoprene brace with a cut out kneecap will help to keep the bones in their proper position, and help to ease any pain and discomfort that is occurring.

leg-knee-brace

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11. Insecurities

 

Anyone who feels as though their knees are not being supported properly, or that they may be prone to injury, should consider investing in a knee brace. If someone is insecure about their overall performance or safety, they may end up doing greater harm than help. Athletes, for example, may perform actions improperly or with reservations to avoid injury. Not only will this impede their performance, it can actually be even more dangerous to their knee joints and may result in greater injury.

 

Braces may be the answer

Braces May Be the Answer

If you are looking for some support and peace of mind about your knee joints, a compression knee brace can offer that security. Whether you’re playing a high-contact sport or performing everyday tasks, a knee brace that is breathable, easy to use, and comfortable is a great solution to insecurities about the knee joint.

If you’re thinking about investing in a knee brace, the signs suggested above can help you to decide whether a knee brace is something you want to consider. While a knee brace cannot fully heal a knee joint issue or hindrance on its own, knee braces can be effective when combined with other solutions. Some of these solutions include rest, icing, heat, compression, and stretching exercises.

Before making the decision to invest in a knee brace, be sure to speak with a sports doctor or family doctor who can offer their advice on the types of braces available and what you might need. Because knee braces are designed with specific injuries and ailments in mind, it’s important that you wear one that targets the correct areas of your knee joint or that offers the proper support you’re looking for.

4 Types of Braces for Basketball Season

Basketball was first introduced to the world in the year 1891 by a man named Dr. James Naismith. Since its birth, the game has certainly seen its fair share of changes, not only in rules and uniforms, but in the level of skill as well.

As basketball has evolved, it has become one of the most popular sports in the world today. In 2012 it was reported that over 26 million Americans were playing the game, with 15.5 million of those individuals playing pick-up, and 5.8 million playing on high school or university teams.

As the skill level for basketball players has increased, and competition has become more demanding, more and more athletes are looking for tools to help them avoid injury while still performing at their best. If you’re looking for a brace to help support your body and your game, the following are 4 types of braces for basketball season.

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Bauerfeind Epitrain Elbow Brace

In all sports, constant repetition of certain moves is expected, but it can also be harmful to the body over time. It’s important for athletes to pay attention to their different joints and muscles, especially if they use them frequently to make sure that they’re in good shape.

For basketball players, a lot of the repetitive moves that occur happen in the elbows. The bending and extending of the elbows is necessary for shooting, passing, and dribbling, and this can sometimes become problematic for players. Common injuries in the elbow include tendinitis, muscle strains, and dislocations.

To help with these common issues, the Bauerfeidn Epitrain Elbow Brace may be a helpful solution to a player’s rehabilitation routine. This brace helps to relieve pain and tension, and uses visco-elastic pads to stimulate the muscles and aid in healing. Intermittent compression of the soft tissues in the elbow leads to increased circulation and healing, and the brace can help with a variety of problems, including arthritis, elbow strains, swelling, and tennis elbow.

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Medi USA Levamed Stabili-Tri Ankle Brace

Ankle injuries are also very common in the game of basketball, as the game requires a lot of directional changes, speed changes, jumping, and lateral movements. Players who are doing a lot of rebounding and jumping are subject to ankle rolls, as well as players who are changing direction frequently while dribbling or playing defense.

To help stabilize the ankles through these tough actions, a quality ankle brace for basketball may help to prevent or reduce the likelihood of rolls, sprains, and strains. The Stabili-Tri Ankle Brace is compatible with three healing phases, and the incorporated stabilizing element helps to relieve stress on the lateral side of the foot to help reduce rolling.

An included stabilizing strap guides the foot toward pronation, and the material is lightweight and breathable to allow players to still perform in comfort at their best.

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MedSpec ASO Wrist Lacer Wrist Brace

Injuries to the wrist are quite common in all sports, as many athletes tend to brace their falls by reaching with extended arms. This results in a lot of the wrist injuries that occur every year, from basketball to skiing and gymnastics.

For basketball players, use of the wrist is very dominant. The flick of the wrist is necessary for shooting, dribbling, and passing. However, the wrist is also crucial to those jaw-dropping dunks, blocks, and steals that end up on the highlight reels. Without a healthy wrist, basketball players would have a very hard time performing at their best.

The MedSpec ASO Wris Lacer Wrist Brace is one of the options that players can use to help decrease their chances of wrist sprains, strains, and breaks. While there are many wrist brace options, this one, in particular, is great for general strain and sprain prevention, while still maintaining flexibility and range of motion. For those athletes that want to protect their wrist from both overuse and injury, this type of wrist brace is designed to wick moisture away and keep the temperature cool, and it is easy to apply and remove.

Bauerfeind LumboTrain and Lumbo Lady

With all of the directional changes, speed changes, and jumping in basketball, it is not uncommon for players to experience back pain while they perform. While proper stretching, massages, and conditioning can help with a sore back, a back brace for basketball can also help to offer some support.

This brace, in particular, helps to stabilize and relax the back, while the embedded friction pad offers stimulating massage to the sore area. The brace is helpful for individuals with muscular imbalance, back strains, lower back pain, muscle strains, and more. The brace is great for players as it can easily be worn during a game, as well as after for muscle rehabilitation.

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If you’re a basketball player who is struggling with sore joints or muscles, a quality brace may be part of the solution to preventing or healing your injuries. It’s important to remember that while braces can aid in the healing and prevention process, it is best to combine a few different healing tactics along with bracing to ensure a full recovery. These rehabilitation exercises are also a part of a healthy routine to help you play your best while still appropriately taking care of problem areas.

 

4 Braces That Help Protect During Powder Season

The winter season is known for crackling fires, snowman building, and, of course, winter sports. While all of these things might give you a hankering for that first snowfall, what many people don’t realize is that the powder season is also popularly known for something else: injuries.

In 2014 it was reported that there were more than 114,000 skiing injuries, and more than 79,000 snowboarding injuries, not counting those athletes who tended to their injuries on their own. Skiing and snowboarding tend to have some of the worst winter sport injuries because of their speed and difficulty. Many other winter sports are also very demanding on the body, and injury is common whether you’re skating on a rink or snowmobiling through a field.

If you’re going to be partaking in winter sports this coming powder season, there are a variety of preventative measures that you can take to ensure a safe and heathy season. The following are 4 braces that can help you protect your body during winter sports:

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1. Ossur CTi Custom Knee Brace

Damages to the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) are two of the most common injuries in skiing and snowboarding. These injuries are usually sustained because of the skis and snowboard holding the lower body in place while the momentum of the movement pulls the rest of the body forward. Slight strains and full tears can be a result of not knowing how to properly stop or change direction.

This movement is also common in sports such as skating and cross country skiing. To help avoid this kind of injury, a prophylactic knee brace such as the Ossur CTi Custom Knee Brace offers increased protection of the knee ligaments.

CTi braces provide stabilization and support to help alleviate some of the pressure put on the joint when the body is out of balance. The pressure is distributed more evenly throughout the lower limb, and the knee is kept in better alignment to avoid tears.

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2. EVS SB05 Shoulder Brace

Another one of the common areas for injury in winter sports occurs in the shoulder region. It is common for individuals to try to brace for a fall using their arms and wrists, which commonly results in sprains and strains to the shoulder region. While this kind of injury isn’t quite as severe as a tear, it can be difficult to shake if not properly taken care of.

For those athletes who can’t wait to get back out on the slopes or ice, the EVS SB05 Shoulder Brace helps to decrease shoulder pain, stabilize the shoulder, and improve protection of the area. The brace is designed with an adjustable arm closure that helps to prevent chaffing and is made of a breathable mesh construction so individuals can still perform comfortably.

3. Bio Skin Thumb Spica Brace

For skiers, snowboarders, and skaters, falling is a very common way to injure the wrist and thumbs. Because the lower limbs are stationary in bindings or skates, the first reaction is usually to hold out the arms to brace for the fall. An added problem for skiers is that they may also become injured from holding the poles improperly as they fall. As a result, another common injury in powder season occurs in the thumb.

To support this injury, the Bio Skin Thumb Spica Brace restricts motion in the thumb MP joint, located at the base of the thumb and the hand. This helps to stabilize the injured area, and decrease pain and prevent further injury. This is a good brace for individuals who are beginning a new sport, and who may be falling more frequently, or for those who haven’t mastered the proper way to fall safely.

4. MedSpec ASO Wrist Lacer Wrist Brace

As mentioned above, poor falling techniques can cause serious strains and sprains in the thumb and wrist area for winter sports athletes. Whether it’s on the ice, fields, or slopes, athletes can better protect themselves during the powder season with a protective wrist brace like the MedSpec ASO Wrist Lacer Wrist Brace.

This simple brace can help to protect the wrist joint during falls, while also maintaining the flexibility needed to perform. Individuals who tend to fall often, or who have weak wrists or carpal tunnel, may also benefit from wearing this wrist brace to reduce pain and offer maximum support.

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In Conclusion

As the powder season gets closer, it’s important for those partaking in winter sports to be serious about their health and safety before they hit the slopes. Not only does practicing injury prevention help you, but it can also create a safer environment for others around you.

To prevent common injuries in winter sports, consider the braces suggested above and consider these winter sport safety tips to be better prepared for the snowy season.

 

Knee Braces in Football: The Why Behind the Wear

knee-braces-in-football

The sport of football has been around since the mid-19th century and, as it popularity grew, so did the number of people wanting to take part. The National Football League was finally established in 1920, and the sport has since then become a household name with kids of all ages participating from a very young age. Between 2008-09, the NCAA recorded 633 active institutions with a football team and 64,897 participants. That number has only grown since.

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As most know, football is a contact sport that requires a lot of physical interaction between teams. Football players tend to be very good contenders for injury because of the large amount of pressure put on their knees while pushing, tackling, making directional changes, and performing lateral movements. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding injury prevention and protection in sports in recent years. The topic has gained in popularity as competition has become tougher, and athletes are expected to perform at higher levels at an earlier age.

It was reported that the most common injuries for a football player include: Concussions (7.4%), Head, Face & Neck (4.3%), Upper Limb (16.9%), Torso & Pelvis (11.9%), Other (9.1%), and Lower Limb (at a whopping 50.4%).

With such a large percentage of injuries occurring in the lower limbs, many have discussed the options to protect and prevent injury in the area. Knee braces have been a large part of that conversation, and many are wondering why so many players opt to wear knee braces during practice and game play. The question is: Why do athletes choose to wear knee braces in football?

————————-     Previous Injury    ————————-

For many athletes, it all comes down to doctor’s orders when deciding whether or not to wear a knee brace. Those who have experienced a mild or serious tear in the past may have already gone through surgery or rehab for their ligaments, and a brace is necessary to protect it from future harm.

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There are lots of custom knee braces that work specifically to protect injured ligaments. The braces help to keep the ligaments in the proper position during rehabilitation and also help to support the area during performance after the athlete has healed enough to play. Athletes wearing custom braces may go through a series of different ones as they heal, as there are various styles that cater to the different stages. The goal would be to eventually wear a simple brace that offers only little support once the knee area has returned back to its original performing state.

————————-     Injury Prevention   ————————-

open-knee-brace-1For others, however, it may be more about lowering the risk than anything else. Although players may not have past or current injuries, wearing a knee brace may help to avoid possible injuries and be much less costly both to the player individually and to the team as a whole.

Take the NFL, for example. The salaries of players in this league are very impressive, and teams certainly want their players to be healthy to ensure they’re getting their money’s worth. A team that has 3 or 4 players on the injured list is certainly missing out on their investment’s talent! It makes much more sense for teams to invest in cost-effective knee braces that may help prevent injury and keep their players on the field. This will keep their best players on the field, ensuring the team’s success.

————————-     Young Athletes     ————————-

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For athletes at lower levels of the game, investing in a knee brace can still be beneficial. Staying healthy through youth leagues and high school sports can help propel athletes into their college or professional careers injury-free, which is a huge bonus on their resume and for their future health. Young athletes who have already experienced serious injuries may have cut their athletic careers short and may be prone to further injury if they continue to play.

The decision over whether to invest in a knee brace should begin as a discussion between the athlete, parents, and coaches. There are a few things that will factor into the decision. If a young athlete is planning to invest a lot of time into the sport of football, then it might be a good idea to consider a knee brace to increase their chances of staying injury-free over their career. It might also be a good idea for young athletes whose bodies are not fully developed yet. Children who practice and play constantly can injure the bones and cartilage that hasn’t fully formed yet.

————————-     Repetitiveness    ————————-

Football is a game of repetition. Countless times in a game, players are responsible for squatting down, tackling, changing direction, and running laterally. The repetitiveness of these actions can wear down the ligaments over time, making the area more susceptible to tears.

Regardless of the level or age an athlete, they may consider knee braces if they’re going to be committing to a specific sport over time. This will help with those repetitive movements, and protect them from the wear and tear over time.

 

————————      Position on the Field   ————————-

Depending on a football player’s position on the field, this can also help to determine if they want to consider a knee brace. For example, players who are in the position of linebacker will experience much more tackling and contact than someone who is in the position of, say, a wide receiver or quarterback.

Depending on how comfortable they are with their position and how often they’re using their lower limbs, a football player’s position can help them decide if their body needs the extra protection.

To understand more about knee braces in football and their role in the game, it’s important to know that there are four popular types of knee braces: Prophylactic, Functional, Unloader, and Rehabilitative. These different types will help to explain why players are wearing a certain kind of knee brace.

Because injury is so common in football, it is up to players whether they would like to wear certain protective gear that may increase their chances of safety. Some players fear that their level of performance will be hindered by braces and therefore don’t wear them; however, the advances in braces have many convinced that they don’t have any effect on performance. If a player cannot perform properly with the brace, or they feel discomfort, then a preventative brace may not be the right road to take.

————————-     Prophylactic Knee Braces     ————————-

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A prophylactic knee brace is generally used for sport injury prevention. It works mainly to protect the medial collateral ligament (MCL), while also helping to protect the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), and the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL).

The braces are constructed mainly of hinges, bars, and straps, and when worn properly, they help to keep all of the ligaments in place during activity. Various studies have been performed on the level of protection that the brace provides, each with varying results. Some show small improvements in the safety and protection of the ligaments, while others see a much larger improvement. As mentioned, the effectiveness of a brace can rely on things like repetition and the player’s position.

Functional braces are more popular for athletes who have already experienced an injury. These braces are much more individual-specific, and they work to support the knee while it heals after surgery and rehabilitation. Because there is a wide variety of knee injuries experienced, functional knee braces come in lots of different designs to cater to a combination of injuries.

————————-     Functional Braces   ————————-

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Whether the injury is to the MCL, LCL, ACL, PCL, or any combination of the four, a specific functional brace will be able to hold the ligaments in place during rehabilitation. Generally speaking, injuries that are not as severe will require a functional brace made from metal hinges and a neoprene material, while more severe injuries should be protected by a brace that has a rigid frame with hinges.

A functional knee brace is not the only solution to a knee injury, and these generally work hand in hand with lengthy rehabilitation programs. An athlete’s doctor should be able to advise on the type of brace needed for the specific injury, as well as the suggested rehab practices that will help the knee to heal without the pressure of the upper body weighing down on it.

————————-     Rehabilitative Braces  ————————-

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Rehabilitative braces have a very specific function, which is to keep the knee in a position of limited movement immediately after an injury or surgery. The parts of the knee that can be protected by this kind of brace include the MCL, ACL, LCL, and PCL, as well as the meniscus.

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of braces for different stages of rehabilitation. This brace is generally only worn for the first few weeks after surgery and may be worn in combination with crutches. What makes this style of brace different is that it offers the ability to remove the brace easily to observe the injury and also has excess room available around the knee in the case of swelling. Most rehabilitative braces are made from foam, rigid bars, and hinges which offer a controlled range of motion and have 6-8 straps to ensure that the area goes undisturbed.

————————-     Unloader Braces   ————————-

simple-knee-brace

Unloader braces also have a specific function, which is to relieve a specific joint of the stress that’s being put on it. An unloader brace is usually custom-made to fit the needs of the wearer, and they are most commonly worn by people who have Knee Osteoarthritis. Knee Osteoarthritis creates a large amount of instability in the knee and makes it hard for individuals to walk. Generally, the knee will wobble inwards or outwards and can be very painful.

An unloader brace will put pressure on three different points of the thigh bone, thereby relieving the joint of the stress so that it can move more freely. The braces are generally made from foam, plastic, and steel struts that inhibit the side to side movement of the knee.

Unloader braces do not come in one style, and it’s important to check with a doctor before deciding on the design that best fits your needs. While the brace does help with Knee Osteoarthritis, it will not cure the problem on its own.

————————-     Knee Sleeves   ————————-

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While knee sleeves aren’t considered a knee brace, some football players may wear these on the field, either to help with small injuries, for comfort, or as a precaution. They may provide protection to the knee joint and help to increase stability; however, they’re not quite as capable as the knee braces to support and protect.

While it is not totally clear how effective knee braces are in helping to protect and prevent knee injuries, there have been some studies which do support the effectiveness of knee braces. This study focused on 1,396 cadets in the United States Military Army in West Point, New York playing tackle football. What they found was that prophylactic knee braces did, in fact, reduce knee injuries significantly; however, the results did depend on the position being played. According to this specific study, players who were in the defensive positions benefitted the most from wearing a protective knee brace.

The number of injuries in young adults has increased dramatically over the years, and many reports speak about the added pressure and negative effects sports can have on athletes’ bodies when not fully developed. While it’s important to instill a hard work ethic in young athletes, there is always the chance that injuries will arise early on and fester throughout an athlete’s career. For those who are thinking about knee braces, be sure to check with a doctor first before making any decisions. While knee braces are very common in football for injury prevention and rehabilitation, they are not for everyone and should be considered carefully.