BY BLOG EDITOR LAUREN MAULDIN
The best horse I’ve ever owned, Simon, is a perfect match for me but can’t pass a vet check to save his life. Vets have described his hock radiographs as “Nasty” and used terms like “I’m surprised he’s sound.” Recently, I found out that I can’t exactly pass a vet check either.
After suffering for knee pain for several years, I finally went to see an orthopedic surgeon about my chronic problem. He diagnosed me with Miserable Malignment Syndrome, which is about as fun as it sounds. Essentially, my knee doesn’t line up properly with my hip and ankle, so every time I take a step it grinds my knee cap to the outside. In conformation terms, I’m over at the knee.
Though this is a pretty common issue in women, being active through figure skating as a kid and riding as an adult has completely trashed my knees. I’ve got stage 3 (out of 4) arthritis, and a recent surgery revealed that my cartilage is completely tearing from the bone — leaving a little flap of tissue that has been willy nilly flopping around through years of transitions and two points. When I get up from a low chair, my joints crackle and pop more than breakfast cereal and I am only 33 years old.
Suffice to say, I’ve got some joint issues. However, I know I’m not the only person who feels like this in our sport.
We turn to all sorts of alternative therapies for our horses, so after I came to terms with my diagnosis and chronic pain, I decided to do the same for myself. I’ve used ceramic fabric hock boots for my horse for years, and thought to do the same for my terrible knees. Enter Benefab® by Sore No-More® and their Therapeutic Knee Brace.
Made out of far-infared fabric, the Benefab® line of people products, like their horse offerings, are researched backed products designed to reduce pain. The company promise is increased mobility and reduced pain in three weeks, or your money back. When I held up the knee braces out of their package, it was easy to be skeptical at first. The stretchy, soft material is plush and doesn’t immediately give off any magical powers that I could see. Benefab® describes the science behind their products much better than I can. Here is a quote from their website about the technology:
Far-Infrared rays are an invisible, low range ray found on the electro-magnetic spectrum, between the ranges of visible light and microwave (0.76 – 1000 um). There are three separate infrared wave types: (1) short (2) near (3) and far-infrared. Studies have been conducted on the biological effects and medical applications of far infrared radiation with overwhelmingly positive results. These studies have shown that the appropriate application of far infrared radiation increases cellular metabolic rates by triggering mitochondrial activity. This increase in cellular functioning incites enzyme activity, flushes out toxins and decreases pain and inflammation.
Despite my skepticism, I slipped on both braces and started wearing them around the house after my surgery. They run small, so I suggest sizing up. At a size 12/14, I wear an XL and would probably have an issue with the braces being tight if I were a larger size. Even though they’re snug, the braces are soft and comfortable to wear while watching tv, going for a walk or even overnight sleeping.
As for how they feel, it’s a little hard to describe. Wearing the braces reminded me of drinking a nice cup of hot chocolate in the winter — the kind that leaves your stomach satisfied, warm and tingly. Except instead of my stomach, my knees had that happy, warm feeling. It’s very subtle, but it’s noticeable. Like a warm hug for your joints.
In regards to my knee pain, I’ve completely become a Benefab® clothing believer. Between icing after heavy exercise and using the knee braces during my downtime, I’ve been able to completely wean myself off of ibuprofen. I also notice less pain in the saddle, which for me is a huge improvement. It was a big enough difference that I got my mom a pair of the Therapeutic Socks to help with her recovery after foot surgery.
Using the Benefab® by Sore No-More® products on myself has made me a believer for their equine products as well. Horses can’t tell us that these kind of products feel good, but I can. Starting at $34.95, the Therapeutic Knee Brace, along with the other people products, are a great tool to add to a holistic healing regimen for pain and inflammation.
About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. Beyond equestrian journalism, she explores body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.
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