The Brief History of Knee Braces

At Better Braces, knee braces are a large part of what we do. While knee braces are a common sight in sports, that hasn’t always been the case. It might be interesting to know that the modern knee brace — used to prevent injury — has only been around since 1967.

The late 60s were important for the evolution of knee braces. In 1967, a professor of physiology, Dr. Robert F. McDavid, invented the first lateral knee brace designed to prevent injury or reinjury. His brace provided lateral protection of the knee. Then during the 1967 season and Super Bowl III, Hall of Fame New York Jets’ Quarterback Joe Namath played with a now-famous knee brace. Jack Castiglia of the Lenox Hill Brace Shop with along with noted sports physician Dr. James Nicholas designed the brace. This allowed Namath to keep playing despite being plagued by knee problems. Namath’s knee brace was so iconic that it is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

During the 1970s, more prophylactic knee braces began being tested and tried by more NFL players in an effort to reduce career ending knee injuries. It was an NFL player who gave us our start.

In 1978, Philadelphia Eagles football player Mark Nordquist teamed up with two of his friends to explore the possibilities of neoprene. There in his garage in Carlsbad, CA, DJO Incorporated was formed.

The first DJO products were simple sleeves made of sewn-together neoprene that were pulled over the knee as well as the ankle and elbow joints for support. Fast forward to today where knee braces come in a variety of shapes and sizes, designed for all manner of knee injuries and prevention. Whether you suffer from knee osteoarthritis or you’re looking to keep your ACL protected during a football game, there’s a knee brace that’s right for you.

knee brace history The Brief History of Knee Braces

 

Sources:

http://www.tribstar.com/features/x681779334/ISU-prof-invented-first-lateral-knee-brace-designed-to-prevent-injury

http://origin-www.profootballhof.com/history/release.aspx?release_id=2927

http://orthopedics.about.com/od/kneeligamentinjuries/a/kneebraces.htm

http://www.theknee.com/knee-brace/knee-braces-support/

 

 

Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

knee pain women Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

Knee injuries are no laughing matter; 55% of all sports related injuries are knee injuries. But who is at greatest risk for knee injuries when it comes to sports? It turns out that women are 4-6 times more likely to suffer a sports related injury than their male counterparts in the same sport. Out of all sports related injuries, the most common injuries among female athletes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

The reasons for women having an increased risk of knee injury has nothing to do with strength or ability; it comes down to genetics and anatomical factors, form, and training. Simply put, women are built differently than men and some of those differences put added pressure on their knee joints. Thankfully, the factors contributing to the increase in injuries have been widely researched and while genetics can’t be changed, form corrections and training programs have been proven to prevent knee injuries in women’s sports.

Within the sports community, female athletes who play basketball and soccer are somewhere between 2-10 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared with male athletes, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The reason for the high rate of ACL injuries within these particular sports can be attributed to that most ACL injuries—whether in male or female athletes— are caused by non contact mechanisms. These include common movements like landing from a jump or making a lateral pivot while running. But why are women so susceptible to ACL injuries? Let’s take a look at the factors and what can be done to reduce the risk.

Genetic and Anatomical Factors:

ACL Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It connects the front of the tibia (shinbone) with the back of the femur (thighbone). It helps provide stability to the knee joint.

The strength and use of the surrounding muscle groups, such as quadriceps and hamstrings, have a serious impact on the ACL. When running and jumping, women tend to lead with their quads, whereas male athletes seem to have a better balance between the quads and the hamstring muscles. A balance between quads and hamstrings means the impact is more evenly distributed, thus reducing the pressure on the knee.

Another reason for increased knee pressure is that women have a wider pelvis which creates a larger Q-angle at the knee. This often results in a more “knock-kneed” posture in women, leaving the ACL more vulnerable for injury.

Q Angle 600 Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

(image via http://blog.footsmart.com)

Additional anatomical factors in ACL tears such as the diameter of the ACL are still being researched.

Some doctors think women are more prone an ACL injury because of the differences in the amount of circulating hormones such as estrogen. Certain hormones give ligaments strength and flexibility. Fluctuations in hormone levels may have some impact on the function of the nerves and muscles and may lead to an increased risk of injury.

Form:

When researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center sought to explain why this increased risk of ACL injuries in women was occurring, they uncovered that poor form when landing a jump contributed to the risk.

“Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward,” says Dr. Patrick McCulloch, an orthopedic surgeon with the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston who was involved in the research. “This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”

After this discovery, the same researchers spent six weeks correcting these form issues resulted in a reduction in the likelihood of ACL injury by up to 50%.

Prevention Through Training:

As doctors and orthopedic surgeons were seeing an increase in ACL injuries in women, training and conditioning programs were designed to correct problems with form, strengthen knees and surrounding muscles and reduce the risk of injury. FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments, has designed a warm up program specifically designed to reduce the rate of ACL injuries in soccer players (male and female).

Teams that perform FIFA 11+  program at least twice a week, for 20 minutes at time, experience 30-50% fewer injured players, according to FIFA.

In addition, the Sports Physical Therapy department at Massachusetts General Hospital have put together a detailed sports conditioning program to help increase knee strength and reduce knee injuries specifically in female athletes through active warm-up, stretching, strengthening exercises, plyometric drills, and agility drills.

While ACL injuries for female athletes were reaching epidemic proportions, through understanding the problems causing the increase and creating prevention programs based on research, the rate of these injuries is on the decline.

Sources:

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/a_females_aching_knees/

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/risk-knee-injury-increases-women

http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/features/sports-medicine-surgeon-urges-girls-soccer-teams-try-acl-tear-prevention-drills

http://wcbe.org/post/epidemic-knee-injuries-young-female-athletes

http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/nov10/research3.asp

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/Orthopaedics/clinicalservices/sportsmed/Documents/WISH_SPORTSMED_Female%20Knee%20Injuries%20and%20ACL.pdf

http://www.athletestrengthandperformance.com/acl-anatomy-gender-disparity/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2465242/

http://www.atipt.com/news-media/blog/acl-tears-and-knee-pain-more-common-women-activity

“BraceGate”: Should Sergio Martinez be allowed to wear a knee brace in the ring?

734124559 563ecd801d z 300x225 “BraceGate”: Should Sergio Martinez be allowed to wear a knee brace in the ring?Sergio Martinez is set to fight Miguel Cotto this weekend in Madison Square Garden. The usual conversation of who is going to take the win and in what round has changed over the last few days. WBC Middleweight Champion Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KO’s) will not be allowed to wear a knee brace in the ring.

The surprising decision to not permit Martinez, who had a second surgery on his right knee last April, came from the New York State Athletic Commission, but the reasons for their ruling are unclear. In 2010, the NYSAC allowed Yuri Foreman to fight Cotto with a knee brace on.

Some have speculated that the need for a knee brace indicates that Martinez in not 100% physically able to compete. Others believe it will give him some kind of advantage by giving him additional knee support. On the flipside, there are some who think it will give Cotto the upper hand, being able to clearly identify a potential weakness in his opponent. But is protecting an previous injury some kind of advantage or a smart medical decision?

Preventing knee reinjury is crucial for any athlete looking to keep their career going and to not suffer from chronic pain long after their fighting days are over. We see knee braces in professional sports everyday; why should the boxing ring be any different?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Weekend Warriors! Avoid the Backlash

Do you spend weekends pushing your body to the extreme and regretting it? If you limp into the office on Monday morning with yet another injury or ache, pushing yourself might be causing you more harm than good. We all know an active lifestyle is important, but too much activity for your fitness level can put you on the sidelines.

Most weekend warrior injuries aren’t from accidents, but from exerting beyond your limits — this can be from lack of warming up, exercising with muscle fatigue or incorrect technique. Let’s look at what to do when you’re feeling the burn…

  • If you’re playing hard, protect yourself with good shoes, wrist guards and proper equipment. Wearing an ankle support or knee brace can help you prevent injuries.
  • Use good technique to keep injuries such as tendinitis and stress fractures at bay.
  • Increase activity slowly and strive for workouts that include strength training, cardiovascular and flexibility.
  • Warm up to help muscles contract and relax easily. Spend five to ten minutes briskly walking or jogging before the workout begins. If you’re an athlete, try out the Pre-Warm Up Program on the Compex Performance Muscle Stimulator.
  • Stretch after the warm up to increase blood flow, flexibility and performance. Practice proper technique when stretching and use caution, as stretching strained muscles may cause further damage. Hold for 30-60 seconds. To further avoid soreness, consider the Active Recovery Program on the Compex Performance Muscle Stimulator.
  • Keep in mind your body probably cannot perform to same level as when you were young. Rather than packing all your workouts into weekends, hit the gym on weekdays too.

Prone to injury? The most vulnerable areas are the knees, lower back, shoulders, wrists, and ankles. Typical weekender injuries include sprains and strains, muscle aches, knee and back pain, heel pain, rotator cuff injuries and shin splints. Braces and support are not just for injuries; they can help prevent injury too.

Talk to your health provider if you have specific concerns.

Sources:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/sports_injuries_ff.asp
http://centerforortho.com/specialties/Sports-Medicine/Sports-Injury-Articles/Weekend-Warriors-May-Battle-Injuries
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_injuries/default.asp#ra_5
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sprains-and-strains/basics/risk-factors/con-20020958
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931?pg=2
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/1/prweb10367524.htm

How Common is Knee Pain?

Knee pain is one of the most common ailments amongst athletes and non-athletes alike.  People of all ages are also affected by knee pain.  The reason for the prevalence of knee pain is because the knee supports most of the body’s weight and is involved with both daily activities and movement during sports.

Knee pain is typically caused by:

  • knee injuries
  • overuse
  • age
  • natural wear and tear

 

It’s understandable that activities and sports that involve sharp turns, lifting weights and the like would cause strain on the knee. However, many athletes do not know that running is a very stressful activity on the knee, which is why sports that involve running also tend to have higher risk of knee pain and knee injuries.  This can be during both contact (such as football) and non-contact (such as jogging) sports.

People in professions that involve a lot of lifting, walking or kneeling may also feel the effects of knee pain.  A great example of this is in mail carriers, a profession widely known to be hard on the knees.  Other types of overuse activities such as gardening and recreational activities like hiking can also stress the knee.

As mentioned above, the natural wear and tear of the knee from age and use can also lead to knee pain, which contributes to the widespread presence of knee pain.  Other physical factors, such as very tall individuals, may also be a cause of knee pain.

As you can see, there are many ways that all types of people may experience knee pain.  To minimize your risk of knee pain (or to reduce knee pain you’re already feeling), check out our knee braces and supports.  You can also read our Knee Pain and Injury Guide for more information on knee injuries and knee pain.