Brace yourself.

Here’s the kind of thinking that doesn’t surprise you in the least.

Brian Moore, a longtime executive at DonJoy, which manufactures braces, said he believed the practice of prophylactic bracing began in the early 1990s, though it did not gain traction at the highest level of college football until later that decade. The premise is that the braces are needed to protect the vulnerable joints of linemen, who are often hit on the side or the back of a knee by other players who are falling in the so-called trenches, near the line of scrimmage.

In fact, according to Moore, just about every Division I team in the country now requires its linemen to wear knee braces in practice, if not in games, even if those players have never had a knee injury.

“It’s true; the participation rate is near 100 percent,” said Brian Pietrosimone, an assistant professor of exercise and sports science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who has studied prophylactic bracing at length.

“But,” he added, “they’re using these things without much evidence to support that it works. In fact, the evidence is troublingly inconclusive.”

Of course, Moore, the executive from DonJoy, disagrees. In a telephone interview, he cited three studies indicating that wearing braces could help linemen avoid the most severe types of injuries. When a reporter pointed out that all three studies had been conducted more than 15 years ago, he said the research was still valid.

Pietrosimone, however, was part of a group that did a systematic review of all studies on whether knee braces prevent injury in 2008 and concluded that the issue was not so clear-cut. The methodology of the studies was flawed in many cases, the review found, and several studies even indicated that wearing braces might increase — not decrease — the risk of knee injury.

Those braces cost about $1000 a set, so it’s not hard to see why Mr. Moore might disagree with a point of view that doesn’t find them necessary.  It sounds like more research into the matter might be worthwhile.

Eh, studies, shmudies.

… Danny Poole, who is Clemson’s director of sports medicine and has been at the university for more than three decades, estimated that he began endorsing the practice 15 years ago. (Clemson also requires players to have either tape or a brace on their ankles.) Poole said he was largely indifferent to skepticism that might appear in academic journals, preferring a more direct evaluation.

“I’m not a big, huge studies guy,” Poole said. “I like to hear from the players. And the first time you hear, ‘That brace saved me today,’ you know it’s doing something.”

Yeah, who you gonna believe, your players or lying studies?  Welp, except your players ain’t all that convinced, either.

“I really don’t know if they work or not, but rules are rules,” Clemson lineman Mitch Hyatt said with a shrug. “I just wish they weren’t so irritating.”

Players’ gripes about the braces run the gamut: Many do not like having to show up to practice 10 minutes early to put them on. Some do not like how the braces feel. And just about everyone does not like their distinct odor after several months of practices and games.

Pierschbacher also took issue with the entire brace aesthetic, describing them as “robotic,” and complaining that “you don’t feel all swagged out like you should” when wearing them.

Tyrone Crowder, who plays guard for Clemson, said he had never worn braces in high school and was “not that stoked” when he arrived at the university and was told that he had to use them in practices.

“I actually don’t wear them in games because I just can’t,” he said. “When I don’t wear them, I feel like I’m flying around. When I do, it’s like my legs just get so tired.”

Shut up, kid, and suit up.


Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

27 responses to “Brace yourself.

  1. DawgPhan

    You dont get fired for making kids wear braces.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Walt

    Braces are a huge media hoax created to benefit the Chinese who manufacture them. I’m not saying that they work are don’t work, but it’s not something we can do anything about anyway. I just don’t trust the scientists.


  3. Uglydawg

    Kind of off the subject..but still dealing with protective equipment. I think helmets should be made of a softer, shock absorbing material. Leather? no, just kidding, but really there has to be a better alternative to the hard, shock transmitting shell they use now. It would cut down on the concussion problems, neck injuries and also the injuries caused by spearing. (I know they are lined with foams, but the hard plastic isn’t really helping.
    I wonder if any of the sporting goods mfgs are experimenting with such.


  4. Macallanlover

    Answer to substantially reducing injuries in football is to impose weight restrictions, and/or speed limits. The game has become more violent and dangerous due to the size of the mass moving at a faster speed. Love the game but thinking this will go away is naive. Unless you put the players in a protective bubble and make it a game of “bumper” collisions.

    Braces make players slower and less agile. Safer for sure, but is that where the game is headed? If so, go to smaller and slower players.


  5. Dawgpa

    You got to love when people who have no background in Sports Medicine have opinions on issues like knee injuries and concussions.


    • Dawgflan

      I know, right? It’s almost as bad as people with no professional coaching experience having opinions on football. 😉


    • AthensHomerDawg

      I think anyone who has suffered concussions or had knee surgery is entitled to an opinion. Does having been in the arena/ER/OR Count?


    • Uglydawg

      You got to love when Dawgpa , who doesn’t know me or probably anyone else on GTP personally, has an opinion on issues like what our backgrounds, personal experiences and occupations are. Sheesh.


  6. AusDawg85

    You know those tackling dummy drones are really just a first step in replacing the kids, right? Saban’s got a whole team of AI robots at his farm and he’s home now experimenting with them.


  7. Chopdawg

    “prophylactic braces”?…can you get those out of the coin-machine in the filling-station bathroom?


  8. ApalachDawg

    If dudes weren’t so jacked up on roids and HGH, no braces would be needed to keep their massive frames upright or legs from blowing out. Please see what Mr Pollack looks like now, compared to when he was playing.


  9. Facts, statistics, record? But what about heart? and uniform color? and BECAUSE I SAY SO?


  10. Will (The Other One)

    There’s also a lack of any peer-reviewed evidence that cyro chambers (which UGA has at least one) have any really useful impact, but they probably do look more impressive to recruits than braces.