It is an activity they simply do not want to give up. And they don’t.
Despite the same aches and pains which trouble the rest of the population, locals keep skiing and many enjoy the sport into their eighties. But, people who live in Vail have a couple of arrows in their quiver that visitors may not know about. If you have not heard about CADS or Opedix knee support tights, read on. They could help you ski like a local and enjoy Vail even more than you do already.
Walter Dandy was an East Coast businessman and an avid holiday skier. But, he got to the point where he dreaded the third day on the slopes. That was when his legs got tired and the pain set in, spoiling the remainder of the vacation he had so looked forward to.
Dandy comes from a long line of inventors and, one day sitting on a chairlift thinking about his aching thighs and knees, it came to him that a muscle could be mimicked by a spring that would provide support and extra strength.
And so, in 1988, CADS were born. How do they work? A harness that provides a lifting seat, thin cords which go down the back of each leg to a spring feature on the boot shell, and ultra-light rods combine to act like the suspension of a car. Just as the suspension maintains stability and control and cushions passengers from the bumps in the road, CADS save skiers’ legs as they barrel down the slopes. The lifting force generated by CADS supports the skier, taking weight off the knees and thighs and decreasing leg muscle fatigue, knee strain and lower back strain. The downward force increases edging power, snow contact and glide speed, actually making the skis work better.
“CADS take years off your legs,” says Dandy. “Go ahead and ski with that 15 year-old kid or grandkid.”
Testimonials abound from such Vail locals as former Olympic skier Verne Goodwin and numerous others. When renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman was told by patients that CADS were relieving them of pain and helping them ski better and longer, the Steadman Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation performed a biomechanical laboratory study. This provided a scientific rationale for the dramatic decrease in muscle fatigue and knee pain that skiers were reporting.
In fact, to prove his point, Dandy will meet you at Mid-Vail for a free demo, outfit you with CADS and guide you down the slopes. “The experience will forever change the way you ski,” Dandy says, confidently.
And then, there’s Kim Gustafson, who left a career in international business to settle in the Vail Valley. His plan was to teach skiing, and today he is an instructor who spends 100 days a year on the slopes. However, it almost didn’t happen. His left knee would simply not cooperate.
Gustafson set about looking for a solution beyond the traditional knee brace, which he found far too bulky and uncomfortable. That is when he teamed up with research scientist Dr. Michael Torry of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Together, they created Opedix knee support tights. According to Dr. Torry, the tights “are designed on many of the principles of traditional rigid unloader braces without the restrictiveness and with injury prevention in mind.”
Knee braces work by enhancing knee alignment and decreasing knee loading. However, Opedix tights use a proprietary fabric with four-way stretch compression properties and an anchor and sling design to support the knee area while allowing the kneecap to float free. This support to the outside of the knee reduces the amount of damaging outward movement and decreases the stresses or load on the knee joint. The fabric is moisture wicking, and the tights act as a warm, comfortable base layer.
At Steadman Philippon, tests conducted on a gait analysis machine showed that the tights significantly reduced load on the knee during running. But, what about skiing?
For a study devised by Dr. Michael Decker at the University of Denver, the tights were distributed to 320 ski and snowboard instructors, as well as patrollers at the six Vail Resorts locations. Using standardized questionnaires, Dr. Decker measured fatigue, knee stiffness and pain halfway through the 2010-2011 ski season. He repeated the survey after the skiers had worn the Opedix knee support tights for one week and again at the end of season, when he found that wearing the tights had reduced fatigue, stiffness and pain by an average of 31 percent. “These knee performance effects were immediate and continuously improved throughout the ski season,” he writes.
Who knows? What benefited those ski instructors could work for you!