In the past decade or so, a big innovation in the ski binding world occurred, and it was called the knee binding. Knee bindings were created to fight against one of the most common injuries in skiing (and one of the most painful and tough to recover from), the infamous torn ACL. And here’s the kicker, if you’ve been lucky enough never to have this happen to you or witness it happen to a friend or family member, you might not realize that, according to the estimates, about 20% of people who suffer a blown knee never ski again. That’s a scary thought to us!
It’s the type of injury you hear about on TV that takes your favorite athlete out of all the competitions. And decades ago huge strides were made to increase the safety of skiing through quick release ski bindings, but the problem of torn ACLs still remains. Well, the U.S. based manufacturer Knee Binding, located in Stowe, Vermont, decided to tackle this problem head on.
So how did they take on this monumental problem you ask? With something called the third dimension of release. This release is called a pure lateral heel release, which basically means that instead of the heel just moving up and down into the binding, it can also move left and right sideways, which no other ski binding on the market can do right now. But how does this help? Well, the most common way to tear your ACL is to fall backwards while twisting, meaning your bindings won’t release because it’s not up or down movement, leaving your feet stuck and your body moving which can blow out your knee. This allowance for sideways movement means that when you start to twist and fall backwards, your feet will pop up of the Knee Binding so you don’t rotate too far.
Now this third dimension of release may make a few of the hardened aggressive skiers out there wary if the extra movement will temper the binding’s performance. Or worse, if the binding will accidentally release while skiing tougher terrain and in a more aggressive manner. But the reviewers have put this problem to rest, and reports have remained that these bindings don’t lose any performance features with their additional safety release, and can hold up under any skiing conditions and abilities.
Growth of the Knee Binding
Since their launch in 2009, Knee Bindings have been growing pretty rapidly. And one of their biggest customers has been women and skiers who have already had blown out knees before and are looking not to repeat the process. But the owner of the company, John Springer-Miller, is looking to continue to expand that base to all skiers and believes that he can do for torn ACLs what quick release bindings did for broken legs, significantly reduce them and make skiing safer. But skiers are often slow to adopt new technology into their sport, as seen in how many straight skis are still out on the hill, so this will be a tech to watch in the coming years.
It’s an interesting concept for skiers in general, but there has also been a push to get these bindings onto the boots of professionals in the industry. Not just pro skiers, but people who work the day in and day out ski resort grinds such as ski patrollers, lifties, and the likes. Why are these people at the forefront of concern for Knee Bindings? Well they tend to incur a greater risk of torn ACLs just due to their time on the slopes. And resorts and employers are on board because they don’t want to lose their employees to injuries and time spent in recovery. The worker’s comp alone has influenced many employers to take a second look at these bindings.
Knee Bindings are not like your typical bindings in terms of safety, but in many other ways they are similar. The can be applied to any flat skis out there, just like any other bindings, so you don’t have to limit your ski choice if you pick up a pair of these bindings. As always though, we do recommend leaving the ski binding mounting to professionals.
Although up until now we have been talking about this brand as a whole and referring to Knee Bindings as if there is one universal pair. But this is not the case! They offer different styles and products to fit your individual needs, including bindings for women and bindings for wide skis such as powder or backcountry skis.
If you’re susceptible to knee problems, have a history of injuries, or just know that you’re going to ski some crazy stuff where your risk is high, we cannot recommend these bindings highly enough.