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I've recently taken up trail running, but I know a person who permanently damaged her knee in a momentary fall. Are there any knee pads in existence that are meant to protect your knees from impact while running?

Mostly intended for trails.

I'm a bicycle commuter, I can't afford to loose my knees :/

  • 3
    it's looking for a recommendation on knee pads. – rrirower Mar 4 '16 at 12:33
  • It seems most running knee pads are supportive instead of being protective. I like to where gloves and fall on my hands, but usually never have gloves on when I need them :) – Jason Jun 10 '16 at 3:43
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The first line of advice would be to consider how to better avoid falling in the first place. I have run over two hundred trail races and fallen twice. Both occurred under the following conditions:

  • (a) later in the race when already tired
  • (b) steep downhill sections on technical terrain and
  • (c) using bad form.

What is bad form ? May be one of a number of traits: here are some I had been guilty of:

  • pointing your toes downward.
  • Not being "light" on your feet.
  • "Committing" yourself to big steps - instead of taking more smaller ones: What happens if that "big" step hits a rock? Take more and smaller steps. One should strive to use several small/quick steps instead of one "heavy" one.

Now .. to your original question about knee pads. They will not "save" you if you take a bad fall -especially if you were taking big heavy steps as described above.

However they can certainly be helpful. Look into either

Volleyball knee pads
Skating knee pads: many varieties are available 
  of lesser or greater protection - and corresponding 
  greater or lesser flexibility.

I have worn volleyball knee pads in trail races - and won handily. They can make little or no difference in your performance: in one 8Km race I tied my own course record wearing the pads.

Update (two weeks later..). The "light on your feet" just saved me in a 10K trail race. I hit an uneven portion of the trail badly and started to fall forward. But I had been using the lighter steps and keeping the knees a bit raised.

Therefore, the other foot stayed underneath me and several small and quick strides later I recovered proper form. The arms went wide and the body went nearly parallel to the ground but the face plant was avoided. That all happened at about a 6:30 minute/mile running pace on a fairly steep downhill: so hitting the dirt would not have been pleasant.

The added safety of putting more effort into each downhill stride does come with a cost: I find my downhill pace is slower. It also does use more energy: just kind of "falling" downhill is easier on the legs and faster (*). But - as just shown - the extra few seconds is well worth the slight performance hit.

(*) This approach is useful for higher downhill speeds on smoother surfaces such as pavement or well maintained fire roads.

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  • Wouldnt you say that it was a higher cadence that helped you keep upright? – Jason Jun 10 '16 at 3:38
  • @Jason Wish it were that simple. Need to ensure not committing on each step.. or a misstep will become ugly. Higher cadence is part of it - i.e. being ready sooner with your next step. But if all your weight were already on the prior step you won't be able to make the next step properly anyways. I have to be conscious of it: just putting one foot in front of the other quickly is not sufficient. – javadba Jun 10 '16 at 5:05
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If you are afraid of damaging your knees smashing them while falling, the first thing you could do is learning how to fall properly. Any judo-like training class or parkour class should be fine. This way you minimize the chance of hurting yourself even without pads.

Regarding knee pads I have never used a pair specifically built for knee protection while running, but the best hard knee cups pair that I have ever tried was Arc'teryx Kneecaps ones. They have a soft lining that absorbs part of the force of impact and the hard exterior shell prevents piercing damage from hard objects like rocks. They are quite comfortable and hold their position well. Their primary use was telemark skiing, but they gained a lot of popularity thanks to military use. I think that they could be your best bet, albeit they're quite expensive. But be aware that running with knee pads could alter your posture, leading to muscle imbalances and injury.

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  • TIL about telemark skiing. – Sean Duggan Mar 9 '16 at 18:20
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These are what I found on the net that may help you. knee support

Top 10 Best Knee Braces For Running In 2016

  1. Copper Knee Brace
  2. Active Athletes Knee Brace Support for Running
  3. Fitoby Knee Support Sleeve
  4. Copper Wear Compression Knee Sleeve
  5. Shock Doctor Knee Compression Sleeve
  6. ACE Knee Brace with Dual Side Stabilizers
  7. Aegend Sport Elastic Neoprene Open Patella Knee Brace Sleeve
  8. Crescendo Athletics Knee Sleeve
  9. Pro-Tec Athletics Gel Force Knee Sleeve
  10. Bracoo Breathable Neoprene Knee Support
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  • 1
    -1. This is simple parroting of a google search. – JohnP Mar 4 '16 at 14:40
  • 2
    The querent is looking for knee pads. You provided a list of knee braces. Either you're missing some explanation or you missed the point. – Sean Duggan Mar 4 '16 at 15:12
  • If you check the web site you can see the knee support materials other than braces. There are some items which may protect knee in the case of falling while not limiting ROM. :-). Before giving -1 you better check the site in detail :-). – bantandor Mar 5 '16 at 5:01
  • Besides, in the questions the key word is "running" that is why I also added the braces in the list for future searches. Think wide open :-) – bantandor Mar 5 '16 at 5:09
  • @bantandor: Answers should be able to stand on their own without the link's content. And the page you linked to is entirely about knee-braces. Sure, some of them could count as padding, but that's like linking to an article about pillows because they could be used as padding. I maintain my -1. – Sean Duggan Mar 9 '16 at 18:17

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