Common Knee Injuries From Mountain Biking
Mountain bikers can suffer from a variety of injuries whether from overuse or following a crash or fall from your bike, all with varying degrees of severity. The more extreme the route, the bigger the adrenaline rush but also the bigger the injury should you come off your bike at speed. Luckily, the majority of injuries sustained are minor and self-limiting in that you should expect to recover following a few days of rest.
The sport of mountain biking is extreme, giving riders an adrenaline rush as they speed their way down hills and mountains over varying terrain. The more extreme the course the bigger the challenge and the bigger the risk should they fall.
It is always important to understand the types of injuries which can be sustained in your chosen sport so that you are able to consider the preventative measures available to you in the form of protective clothing, padding or even a sports brace. While minor injuries can simply result in abrasions and grazes to the skin, injuries to the knee can occur from downhill riding or through falling from your bike.
What is the knee joint?
As the knee joint remains active in the majority of sports it is susceptible to injury as a result of the forces passing through the joint, with impact damage from undertaking extreme sports such as mountain biking increasing the risk of injury further.
The joint itself joins the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), with the patella (kneecap) and the fibula (second bone of the lower leg) also forming the joint. There are also four ligaments working to stabilise the joint which are the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL).
In general research suggests that 25% of cyclists will suffer from knee pain at some stage either as a result of overuse or from not having the correct setup on their bike in the first instance. Overuse injuries are typically self-limiting and following a period of rest you should expect to see a full recovery.
Whilst a person may complain of knee pain it is a very general statement and can encompass a number of different injuries from mild strains where a person can expect to recover in a few days to ligament tears and ruptures which may require surgery and a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The more serious injuries are typically as a result of impact damage from falling from your bike.
The ACL is the main ligament within the knee joint and is responsible for stabilisation, allowing a person to walk and run. An injury here can vary in severity from a few weeks out of action to up to a year following surgery and intensive physiotherapy. Typically 40% of all ACL injuries occur as a result of participating in an extreme sport such as mountain biking, wakeboarding or snowboarding.
In the event of a rupture or tear to the ACL surgery may be offered to remedy the condition though this requires the torn ligament being replaced and following an extended period of rest a patient can work on strengthening exercises to help stabilise the joint before getting back on the bike. Following surgery a person may be unable to participate n their chosen sport for up to a year, whilst undertaking intensive physiotherapy to help strengthen the joint.
Soft Knee Supports
Soft knee supports are typically worn post injury as a means of providing compression and support during recovery whilst remaining active. There are a variety of sports braces available on the market, each designed to manage specific conditions.
A support is designed to be worn when active, with breathable material which fits closely to your joint offering you compression without restricted movement. Depending on your condition there are knee supports available to help manage anything from mild sprains to tendonitis to mild ligament damage so that you can continue being active during your recovery from injury.
The use of a knee support is as much about enhancing the confidence of the patient as it is about helping with your rehabilitation, giving you the confidence to ride your bike normally and enjoy everything the countryside has to offer.
Rigid Knee Supports
A rigid knee support is designed to be worn as a preventative measure, though can equally be worn post injury to protect the joint from further injury in the future. A CTi knee brace is manufactured from carbon fibre to minimise unnatural movements whilst stabilising and maintain bone alignment and is worn by extreme sports stars the world over because of the protection it affords them.
The CTi knee brace is worn by professionals and amateurs from a range of sports, including snowboarding, wakeboarding, BMX and Speedway. The professionals know the importance of staying fit as they compete to be the best in their chosen field and the CTi gives them the confidence to push harder and faster as they strive for glory. It is typically used by sports people for any ACL / PCL / MCL / LCL injuries. In the event of any accident they can be assured that the CTi will offer maximum protection for their knee joint.
What should I do if I am injured?
It is important to not play through the pain to avoid causing any further damage, with resting giving you the best chance of a speedy recovery. Ice can be used to help manage any inflammation as well as lifting your leg above your chest.
During your recovery a soft knee support can be used to offer additional support when active as well as compression to minimise inflammation. A rigid knee support can help to minimise the risk of further injury to the joint in the future by protecting it from unnatural movements and impact damage.
If you are in doubt as to the extent of an injury or the type of knee support which would be best suited to you then you should speak with a clinical professional.
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The use of sports braces in the treatment of sports injuries is becoming more mainstream. Dave Regis discusses the use of a knee support in conjunction with other treatment options following injury.