Director and miscreant, Sam Peckinpah, created a spectacle in his controversial 1965 feature Major Dundee detailing the life of Major Amos Dundee fighting and swaggering through the wild wild territory we know call the Southwest. Ultimately, the experience led to his masterpiece The Wild Bunch, my ranking as the world’s Best Western.
Your knees are fighting a war on each occasion you ram those snowshoes on steep declining slopes, catching the challenger ahead who leads by ten yards or streeeetch over rocky climbs with trail shoes. Ultimately, the odds favor your friend—pain—beginning to sprout in those joints and ligaments leading to all kinds of misfits among words sounding forlorn and wacky like meniscus, lateral tears, and patellar tendonitis.
Just call it “hurt.”
Like Captain Benjamin Tyreen sarcastically calling out to Dundee, “Congratulations, Major. It seems like you’ve found yourself a real war after all.” As an athlete, you are now in a battle you did not ask for that will not just disappear; so one has to give it a go.
What idiot is just going to hang it up and not try? Can’t be done, it’s against the rules, quitting.Sure, you may get some aid, some repair, some surgery, some shots, but the biggest steady-Eddie for real knee issues is the Ergodyne ProFlex 620.
Technically known as Knee Sleeve with Open Patella and Spiral Stays, you will learn to love it like your doctor, only better. Your doctor won’t snowshoe with you when you’re humping trails in a swirling blizzard or making way on the sawtooth-like Superior trail in black darkness called night in that event.
Yet your new best friend, Knee Sleeve 620, like Andre 3000 singing “Hey Ya,” will strum sweet somethings to those bones, making movement happy again, pushing away pain with magic. “Hey, Ya,” right back, Mr. Knee.
Actually, it’s not magic but a clever use of tighteners, pads and four-way neoprene flex material. The eureka-moment came in the combine of those materials, having them coordinate control over the knee.
If only life had such a sleeve . . . .
The device, contoured to pull up and fit over the kneecap (the patella) is superior in two ways over its less severe brother, the Knee Sleeve 600, a simple pull-over-knee sleeve. The ProFlex 620’s two belts attach by Velcro allowing one to easily buckle a tightness that is comfortable; one above the kneecap, the other below. Don’t be afraid to hitch it taut either, particularly if you’re on gnarly trails like those comprising the Wilderness Athlete Gnarly Bandit Ultra Trail Series through the auspices of Upper Midwest Trail Runners just miles from the think-tank known as Ergodyne.
Additionally the thick pads within the sleeve surrounding the kneecap act like support or wraps, yet in the Winteriffic 20-Mile Endurance Snowshoe Race (run on shoes for this year’s wacky winter) there was no binding or cinching. The warmth of the thickness came in handy, too, in the freezer-like temperatures, sending relief-steam from the knee like smoke signals saying “Okay!” when pulling it off post-race. (See Winteriffic Race article here)
If you have minor knee pain, use the Ergodyne Knee Sleeve 615; I have one and often wear it on the unaffected knee because . . . I don’t want that joint to feel lonesome? No, but that’s a thought. It really acts as a support and protection, too, like when one falls. If you snowshoe race or trail race, sooner or later, you will fall. Just ask 2011 Superior Trails 50km winner, Chris Lundstrom, who tumbles with regularity though a member of the USA Mountain Running Team at the 2010 World Championships that captured the silver medals.
My right knee has graduated to the King Sleeve 620 with straps and pads. About two minutes after first pulling it on, you won’t remember it is there; seriously.
As it turned out, the spiral stays I thought would be so important when considering the 620 turned out not to be. It didn’t take long humping time on trails in practice for those to shoot out. The support I found necessary comes from the straps and padding; I don’t suggest the stays are required for athletic and perhaps many work situations. If they pop-out, stick them back in or ignore it.
No matter what circumstance tries to shoot you down on the trail or in life, knee or anything else, don’t let it. Think instead like Major Dundee after his Captain, Frank Waller, revealed, “I feel it’s my responsibility to report to General Carleton what I believe to be an irresponsible and reckless action. You could be shot for this.”
Dundee, played by the stoic Charlton Heston taking it in stride, replied, “My executioners will have to stand in line.”