Knee injuries, and more commonly, ACL, LCL and PCL injuries, are common for athletes of many sports, especially those where making sudden changes in direction and speed is required.
This is why offensive linemen tend to fall prey to knee injuries, which are not only painful, but also costly, and often lead to time off the field. Luckily there are a number of preventive measures, including proper training, better conditioning and knee bracing.
Take a look at the data for using these two common brace types for reducing knee injuries in college football players. While not the single and absolute solution, braces can provide protection in football players when worn regularly.
PROPHYLACTIC KNEE BRACES
These particular knee braces are worn to prevent the severity of knee injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
These braces have been shown to decrease valgus force—any force that pushes the knee inward, toward the other knee—on the knee joint. Valgus force injuries are common among these athletes, and researchers have seen a reduction in knee injury with players who consistently wear prophylactic braces.
FUNCTIONAL KNEE BRACES
Functional knee braces perform a similar role for the football players, helping to keep the previously injured knee joint safe while also stabilizing it, according to AAOS.
COMPARING THE TWO
During the 1997-1998 football seasons, these two braces were tested against each other in two large studies. In 1997, 20 offensive linemen from a Division 1 team wore prophylactic braces, and were monitored closely by athletic trainers for injury. In 1998, 18 offensive linemen were fitted with custom knee braces, rather than prophylactic, and also closely monitored.
Injury incidence was recorded, and those running the study also looked at cost of surgery and rehabilitation when knee injures did occur. They concluded that braces were an effective way of managing and preventing these injuries:
“The actual costs of the 1997 season include two surgical reconstructions of anterior cruciate ligaments totaling $45,795. The cost of care for knee injuries in 1998 fell to $1,630 due primarily to the lack of surgical cases,” according to Prophylactic Bracing of the Collegiate Football Knee.
Not only was the use of these braces more cost-effective than surgery, but they also lead to less time off the field for rehabilitation.
For an off-the-shelf brace, whether you have had a previous injury or are looking to prevent an injury, an offensive lineman should wear the DonJoy Armor with Standard Hinge to protect the LCL and MCL. For additional ACL protection, opt for the DonJoy Armor with Fourcepoint Hinge.
Looking for the best fit, a custom brace is well suited whether you are looking for prevention or protection. You can customize to protect the various ligaments in your knee. Wear the DonJoy Defiance for impact protection that lineman sustain on every play.