I was one of the lucky ones already on the mountain before the storm hit and the traffic snarled, so I was skiing pretty much off the first lift run. I just had to ski this stuff on my new mid-fat Head Mojo 94s. It was so good that I took a mid-morning break and didn't stop again until early afternoon, then I was back out until we started losing light.
That night both my thighs ached and there was a pain in the inside of my left knee. The pain I attributed to "skating" to the lifts with the much wider skis than I was used to. I caused my thighs to ache by reacting to having falling into the back seat over the powder high moguls, but I was loving it too much to quit.
Opedix S1 Knee Support Tights
The next day, during the second 12 - 14 inch storm, my knee ached and I was too sore to ski much, so I sat and watched it snow. A little better the next day, I put on a pair of Opedix S1 Knee Support Tights - and skied the same terrain as before without knee pain and with thigh muscles that didn't ache.
Bottom line - I think that by not wearing the Opedix S1 Knee Support Tights I lost most of a rare Eastern powder day. That won't happen again.
Loading and Unloading the Knee Joints
It's a fact that skiing puts a lot of stress and strain on the knees. The way I look at it, the knees are the first free joint to fully feel the forces of ground/snow contact. The ankles are encased in rigid boots and cushioned by liners, but the naked knee takes the "load" of skiing.
This load can be many times the normal stress of walking and more than running, if you add on any in air time when you can feel your weight on the knee joints. It is obvious that many winters of "loading" our knee joints can have a debilitating effect and hasten knee problems.
So, the scientific term of remedying this "loading" effect is to "unload" the knee during stress. If some artificial extraneous means can encase and protect the knee that would help, you would think. Metal core knee braces, Ace bandages, and some unbelievable mechanical apparatuses I have personally seen, try to take the load off the knee joint and some probably work to some small degree.
Personally, I was a fan of an Ace type compression sleeve that pulls over the knee and squeezes everything. In order to maintain relief over the years I went from using a large size to a medium size, thinking the tighter compression was needed. Technically, I noticed in pictures my skiing was affected because, although I didn't realize it, I wasn't bending in the knees as much as I would not wearing the tight elastic sleeve, which was really restricting motion as well as binding the knee.
How and Why the Opedix Knee Support System Works
When I first read about the Opedix Knee Support System incorporated into the S1 tights I had my doubts they would be effective, because they don't compress the whole knee joint. Voila - that's the secret as to why they do work.
They were tested and proven effective at the Steadman Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation. Located in Vail, Colorado and founded in 1988, it is known throughout the world for its research into the causes, prevention and treatment of orthopaedic disorders and is committed to solving orthopaedic problems.
The Opedix Knee Support System uses an anchor and sling design in the tights to provide support to the outside of the knee which limits outward knee movement that is inherently the most damaging over time. So, the tights have a non-binding fabric cup which is centered on the knee and around the cup is a banding which slings the knee so the stress, in effect, goes around the actual knee joint.
The compressing banding which is anchored on the outside of the leg continues up to the waistline which stabilizes the muscles and does stave off muscle fatigue. That doesn't mean you will unwittingly work through pain. Rather, it means you won't be feeling the jolting ache in the thigh muscles that comes with sudden stops and starts.
The S1 tights are also breathable, highly moisture wicking, and are advertised anti-bacterial/microbial which is nicely saying they work to prevent odors and they are machine washable.
A Good Fit is Important
The S1 tights are meant to be a snug fit and come with instructions as to how to correctly put them on, centering the knee in place. Pressure from the banding can be felt in the hamstring area and you can feel a distinct downward pulling of the banding at the hips and waist. This is expected and shows the anchor/sling design is working to unload the knee. Once you move around in them they are actually quite comfortable.
The Opedix Knee Support System is available as the S1 men's and women's ski, snowboard, and the R1 running/walking specific styles. The S1 comes in a warm, winter weight and the R1 in a winter weight and a "year-round" weight.
Preventive not Curative
The S1 Knee Support Tights are part of a line of Wellness Gear designed by Opedix to help "Keep active people enjoying the things they love to do longer." If you have had knee surgery, or are experiencing degenerative, progressive knee problems you probably need a more ortheapedic designed brace. But for most of us who just want to "save the knees we have" the S1 tights will do the trick.
You Get What You Pay For
You will have to lay out some serious cash - $190 - for the Opedix S1 Knee Support Tights, available only at Opedix (Manufacturer's Site), but wear them once and you will know they are worth the price. Opedix is an Official Supplier to the National Ski Patrol and very proud of the fact that their products are designed, sourced, and manufactured in the USA.
Besides, I know what of I speak. I now wear the Opedix S1 tights skiing and I am looking into the R1 running style. The initial price might seem like a lot but, remember, I sat out most of a rare powder day at a large East ski resort where the lift ticket was over $70 and the powder was - priceless. I'm not letting that happen again.