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Review: The Bio Skin Ten-7 Knee Brace

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Bio Skin Ten-7 Knee Brace

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Cyclists and other athletes bothered by knee pain may find relief in a unique new knee brace, the Ten-7 from Bio Skin.

Cycling has long been billed as a knee-friendly activity. After knee injury or surgery, patients often pedal a stationary bike before being cleared to walk again. Pedaling a bike while seated is low impact, and the repetitive, linear motion of pedaling safely rebuilds joint mobility and stability.

Yes, cycling is the Bees Knees. But babying a knee joint by limiting intense activity to cycling can deliver a sting later. Say your brother-in-law wants to toss the pigskin around, or you find yourself chasing your kid’s errant shots across the tennis court. A knee joint that’s pain-free during cycling can wake like a sleeping beast when subjected to unusual loads.

I discovered this recently, when, after 15 years of post-knee-surgery bliss on the bike, I made some changes to my cycling and fitness routines and woke my bum knee out of hibernation. And boy was it grumpy!

I first felt the beast stirring when I converted my mountain bike to 1 x 11 gearing. I love the resulting simplicity and lighter weight, but the easiest gear is now a lot less “easy” than it used to be. With the new setup, at times I’m pushing on the pedals with quite a bit more force, and I’m also pedaling while standing more often than before.

After the gearing change, I began feeling twinges of knee pain, usually after a mountain bike ride with lots of climbing. I ignored the pain or took ibuprofen. To add insult to injury, I also began working on some new bike skills requiring explosive power moves, both on the bike (wheelie drops) and in the gym (box jumps).

The combination proved too much for my knee. I was taking ibuprofen almost daily and limping around work like an old sailor. So I started searching online for knee braces. I didn’t want the usual sweaty, clunky knee brace that’s uncomfortable while pedaling. Plus I wear protective knee pads for some of the more technical downhill rides, so a traditional brace was not going to work.

One of my web searches turned up something unusual: the Bio Skin Ten-7 knee brace. It’s the only knee brace I’d ever heard of that doesn’t actually go on your knee – it goes above it, on your thigh. Like I said, unusual, and I was intrigued enough to order one. It helps that Bio Skin offers a money-back guarantee on the Ten-7 knee brace for skeptics like me.

I took careful measurements at two locations on my thigh (see the instructions on the Bio Skin website) and ordered the size I need. The fit of the brace is crucial. As a result, Bio Skin offers four size options for the lower thigh measurement and four for the upper thigh reading. With sixteen potential size combinations, the folks at Bio Skin cut and sew each brace to order.

The brace arrived a few days after I ordered it - I was surprised how light and minimal it looks and feels. I pulled it on and positioned it on my thigh as shown in the simple instructions, tightened the straps, stood up and started walking.

Whoa!

I can only describe the feeling as having a powerful spring in my step. It felt like my whole leg was instantly more powerful and stable. My first thought was “I need one of these for my good leg!” I think I could add 12 inches to my vertical jump with a Ten-7 brace on each leg. Talk about performance enhancing!

As far as my bum knee, the brace is great. I’ve worn it during gym workouts and practicing power moves on the bike. I’ve also worn it for hours at a time while at work. I can feel the compressive action of the brace around my thigh, but otherwise it is so comfortable I don’t want to take it off.

The pain I usually feel is a sharp spot on the meniscus on the inner side of my knee. The Ten-7 seems to redistribute the load so it isn’t all focused on that sore spot. Overall my knee feels much better and more stable.

Here’s how Bio Skin describes the technology behind the Ten-7 brace:

“The Ten-7 applies high level compression around the muscles and other soft tissues in the thigh that are responsible for controlling and supporting the knee. EMG studies have shown that wearing the Ten-7 alters the firing patterns in the muscles of the legs, increasing the firing intensity of the glutes, while slightly decreasing the intensity in the quads and hamstrings.”

Sounds nice and scientific. Whatever. It works for me. Will it work for you? Bio Skin is betting it will and offers a money back guarantee to back up their wager.

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