Ankle and shin issues used to be the main ski and snowboarding injuries, but since the improvement of boots, this has changed. Rather than the typical ankle or shin complaints, skiers are now facing more ACL and MCL knee injuries.

While the boots and skis are designed to prevent shin fractures, the release mechanisms during a fall are not quick enough to have the same positive effect on the knees. Thus, a sudden twist is more likely to occur, resulting in an ACL and/or MCL tear. But, don’t let a knee injury prevent you from getting on those slopes!

There are healing and recovery treatments that will help you get back to your normal, healthy self so that you can start skiing again!

Below, we will discuss these common knee injuries among skiers and how to recover, as well as the best knee brace for skiing.

 

What is an ACL and MCL Tear?

The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament that is in charge of keeping the tibia from sliding out of place and providing rotational stability.

The MCL is the medial collateral ligament that lies on the inner part of the LCL, (which is the outer lateral collateral ligament), connecting the femur to the tibia. These collateral ligaments are in charge of controlling the sideways movements of your knee, thus preventing it from bending inwards.

With both types of injuries, you will most likely require surgical treatment in order to fully recover and gain your knee stability once again.

These injuries are also similar in that you will experience similar symptoms and treatment options, not to mention that the same movements can cause the tears.

You can also check out our ACL Knee Injury article that is specifically geared towards ACL injury recovery.

 

How Do You Tear Your ACL and MCL?

Both ACL and MCL tears occur suddenly, and from sudden movements. In skiing, these movements most likely will include:

  • Twisting
  • Falling
  • Collision
  • Changing of directions rapidly
  • Awkwardly landing from jumps

Symptoms

As stated in the section prior, both ACL and MCL injuries experience similar symptoms.

These include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Popping and giving out of the knee
  • The inability to fully move your knee
  • Struggle and discomfort walking or standing
  • Pain

When spraining either your ACL, MCL, or both, there are different categories of severity. These are called “Grades.”

  1. Grade 1 Sprain: This is when the ligament is slightly stretched and might not require surgery.
  2. Grade 2 Sprain: This type of sprain will most likely require surgery, as it is a partial tear.
  3. Grade 3 Sprain: This sprain leaves your knee joint completely unstable. It is a total tear of the ligament, which requires surgical treatment.

If you have torn or damaged your MCL, you will especially experience pain when you touch the damaged ligament. Also, stressing the medial ligament will be quite painful, which can occur when you bend your knee slightly inward. For instance, this movement can occur when standing up from a chair.

Furthermore, if you have a third degree MCL sprain, then you may experience some fluid leakage from the damaged area. This is due to the inflow of blood and fluid to the site, which then leaks because of the damaged capsule around the joint. So, you may not even notice the swelling, since the fluid is leaking.

Additionally, most ACL tears are either Grade 2 or 3 Sprains and you will most likely have damaged other ligaments as well.

 

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the injury, you may require surgery, consult your doctor. While you could have a slight stretch in the ligament that may be able to heal on its own, there are higher chances of partial and complete tears, which require surgery.

Whether you undergo surgery or not, you will need to use a knee brace to help you recover and regain your knee strength and stability. It is important to fully care for your injury in order to prevent further knee problems and tears.

 

3 Best Knee Braces for Skiing

Therefore, these 3 knee braces are ideal as they provide the best stability and support for your recovering knee injury.

1. Range of Motion Hinged Knee Support Brace for Post Op or ACL Tears – Front Closure Gladiator By BioSkin

The Gladiator Hinged Knee Brace is great for highly sensitive knee injuries, such as ACL and MCL tears. It features a long frame and visco-gel ring around the patella for optimal support, stability, alignment, and reduction in swelling. It’s hinges will also prevent hyperextension and keep the knee secured and aligned. This brace is even hypoallergenic (100% latex and neoprene free)!

Read Our Gladiator Hinged Knee Brace Review Here!

 

2. Shock Doctor 875 Ultra Knee Brace with Bilateral Hinges

Although this Shock Doctor 875 brace is not latex free, it does have the bilateral hinges, which prevent hyperextension and provide knee alignment. Also, it has a long frame and straps to keep your knee feeling secure and stable.

Read Our Shock Doctor 875 Brace Review Here!

 

3. McDavid 422 Knee Brace with Dual Disk Hinges

This McDavid 422 brace has bilateral hinges as well, which prevent your knee from making awkward movements. It too will keep your knee stable, aligned, and supported. It is also hypoallergenic, made from 100% neoprene and latex free material!

Click Here to Read Our McDavid 422 Review

 

Summary

Don’t let your knee injury keep you from getting back out on those slopes! An ACL and/or MCL injury may require several months of healing, but patience is key. It is important not to rush these types of injuries, as reinjury can occur, or you could further damage other areas of your knee. I am sure that you would not want to prolong full recovery any longer than necessary anyway!

Not only is it important to take care of yourself during your healing, but also after you have fully recovered. Knee braces provide great support, structure, and alignment to help you regain your confidence and keep your knee in place. These are great mechanisms to use during and after your healing process.

We wish you the best of luck with your recovery and hope this information has been helpful!