Knee bracing for skiing and snowboarding

Skiing or Snowboarding this Winter? – To brace or not to brace

Scott Wilson  APAM, ESSAM, AEP, CSCS
APA Sports Physiotherapist
APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Practice Principal – Bounce Physiotherapy | Bounce Exercise Clinic
Drummoyne  NSW

With the ski and snowboarding season in full swing here in Australia and New Zealand, I was keen to get this blog out!  Especially with the current blast of cold weather we are having.

Here at the clinic we have a large number of clients throughout the year that go skiing and snowboarding, both here in Australia and overseas.  Often I am asked if they should wear a brace on their knee.  Jump online and do a quick search and you will send yourself blind with arguments for and against bracing.


If you have never had an injury before, why bother bracing? “Well to prevent injuries” is the reply I get.  The perception is that snowsports have a higher than expected injury rate – it will surprise many people to learn that the injury rate is lower than you would expect.  3 injuries per 1000 skier days is the current statistic. Another way to put this is, if you ski on average 20 days per year, you will get injured every 16-17 years. This stat is even lower for snowboarders.

That’s expensive injury prevention for someone who doesn’t have an injury already. Braces can get quite expensive, if you have never had an injury and you want peace of mind on the slopes there are better options for you.

You are far better spending time in the 6-8 weeks before you go to the snow getting stronger and fitter. The evidence is overwhelming on the value of preparation programs to help reduce your risk of injury. Keep the money you were going to spend on a brace and invest it in a training program here at the clinic.

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Previous Injury

If you do have a pre-existing injury though – that’s a different matter completely.  A strong predictor of future injury is a previous history of injury. Here is where bracing can potentially be a really valuable option.


Before you spend your money though on a shiny new brace, have you worked hard enough on your strength and control? There is no substitute for being fit and ready for the snow – if you have done this you may not need a brace.

See a Professional Experienced in Brace Fitting

As I mentioned earlier, braces can get very expensive – you can pay from $30 for an elastic knee sleeve (that doesn’t do much) up to almost $2000 for a full custom knee brace. The range of braces available is extensive and can be confusing.

An assessment and screening with a sports physiotherapist can help you work out if you want to look at a brace.

Here at the clinic we offer a specific brace fitting service, after taking your history and getting your measurements a fitting time is booked.  At the fitting you get to try on 2-3 braces and see how they feel, how they fit and work out if a brace is for you.  Any quality provider of braces should provide this service and if not, ask them to.


Braces are a yes or no prospect – by this I mean when you put the brace on you should immediately be “yep, I definitely like the feel of this brace and would use it”. If you are not sure, or want to wait and see how it fits over time DO. NOT. BUY. THAT. BRACE. You will only end up disappointed with your purchase, not use it, and let it become your new dust collector.



About the Author

Scott is the practice principal and owns the clinic with his wife Sandy, who is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

Scott has over 18 years’ experience in both elite sport and with everyday people, he spent 2011 & 2102 as the Rehabilitation Coordinator and Sports Physiotherapist for the Adelaide Crows.  Prior to this Scott has worked with many teams and individuals including;

  • Adelaide Football Club
  • Australian Sevens Team
  • International Rugby Board
  • Australian Women’s Ice Hockey Team
  • ACT Brumbies

Both the physiotherapy and exercise physiology services are overseen by Scott.  In addition to teaching the private courses offered here at the clinic, Scott has taught on undergraduate and post graduate courses for physiotherapy and exercise and sports science.  He has also been a regular presenter for Sports Physiotherapy Australia on the Level 2 Sports Physiotherapy Course.

In 2014 he was awarded the title of Clinical Fellow of Australian Catholic University for both physiotherapy and exercise physiology.

About the clinic

Bounce Physiotherapy | Bounce Exercise Clinic is  a physiotherapy and exercise physiology private practice based in Drummoyne, Sydney.

Established in the Inner West of Sydney since 2003 our business has provided services across the spectrum from injury treatment and known pathology to improving your general health and wellbeing, or athletic & sports conditioning.  Whatever your needs are we can help you get there. Bounce Physiotherapy | Bounce Exercise Clinic offers both clinical services and fitness services for our clients.

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One Comment

  1. Tony

    Thanks Scott – sensible advice. Get in the gym and get them legs strong to support the knees. Bring on the snow!

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