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Bracing to prevent injury

Form Fit AnkleNo one likes to get injured, whether it is a sprained ankle or a ruptured knee ligament it can be painful and put you out of action for an extended period of time.

In the field of extreme sports, injuries can end careers which is why many amateurs and professionals alike take protective gear very seriously to help minimise the risk of injury, through helmets, protective clothing and bracing.

The most common knee injury sustained in extreme sports from motocross to snowboarding is damage to the ACL which is responsible for stabilisation of the knee joint, without which your ability to remain mobile is severely compromised.

There are a variety of knee braces depending on what injury you wish to prevent against / manage but in extreme sports it's all about carbon fibre, with rigid knee braces designed to protect the joint against impact damage and offer a greater amount of stability.

The Benefits

In general braces are designed to assist you by keeping you mobile for longer following an injury. In the past immobilisation was often seen as the best cure but safe mobilisation in the early period following injury can allow the ligaments and bones to heal faster. It is important to stress that only normal loads should be applied during this period and you shouldn't expect to be out pulling off a Frontside Rodeo on the halfpipe.

Bracing can also work as an extension of physiotherapy, a common treatment option following injury. Once your session is over the brace can offer a therapeutic stretch to the affected region, thereby ensuring that your treatment remains on course.

Bracing versus Taping

Taping has become quite fashionable with a variety of colours and designs on offer but how does it compare to bracing?

They basically do the same job but the key difference is longevity in that tape will last a few days and braces will last a lot longer. Also, when you sweat tape can slip whereas the majority of sports bracing is manufactured with breathable material.

It is important to note that taping is only designed to manage minor injuries and can't really be compared to a carbon fibre knee brace but thought it would be worth a mention.