“May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” [Edward Abbey].
As an extreme sport, MTB disciplines are all about pushing the boundaries and taking risks. Scrapes, abrasions, bruises and injuries are inevitable. And as your ankles are one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to injuries, taking pre-ride precautions to lower the chances of a serious injury occurring is vital. Cue ankle braces which mountain bikers are investing in as valuable preventative and rehabilitative gear.
Clearly, the downhill, cross country (XC), free ride or slopestyle MTB disciplines are all about man vs nature. Injuries come with the territory and ankle injuries are common among mountain bikers. Although an ankle brace is unlikely to prevent a break, it is savvy protective support for rolled ankles, bruising and ligament sprains and tears.
Dirt jumps, gap jumps, hip jumps, bunny hops, riding flow trails and bombing trails at high speed mean that when you come off your bike, the ground (and impact) is really hard. Bodily harm is unavoidable.
And for any rider who lands feet first from a height, the ankles become the initial shock absorber. Ankle brace protection is a quintessential piece of protection to minimize the potential seriousness of an ankle injury.
“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew and live through it.” –Doug Bradbury, an early adopter of mountain biking.
If any rider is looking for additional support during MTB big hits or riding down technical trails, then you shouldn’t leave home without the following: ankle braces, gloves, knee pads, elbow pads, goggles and a helmet. Mountain biking protective gear is continually evolving to include specially designed features such as knee pads that have impact cushioning gel and quick lace ankle braces with protective inserts.
Besides absorbing impact and preventing potential injuries, riding with safety or protective gear will also help increase your MTB confidence by grooming your skills and enabling you to experiment with stunt techniques.
Let’s give two experienced MTB riders the last word on the subject:
Swedish slopestyle, freestyle and dirt jumping MTB athlete, Max Fredriksson, is quick to recommend the use of an ankle brace for extra stability. “Ankle braces are most important because as a freestyle rider you put your feet down a lot and roll your ankles. [An ankle brace] is a good support to prevent rolling your ankles.”
Brandon Semenuk, Free Ride MTB World Tour gold medalist doesn’t ride without his ankle brace brand of choice: “Without them, my ankles would be destroyed and I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike as much as I would like to.”
Go forth, fuel your ride and crush your MTB goals!