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Reflex Binding Injuries


ozski
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I've seen a run a nasty injuries in Reflex bindings of late. couple of serious breaks, one from a no release, the other after the boot released the skier somehow managed to hit the ski and break at least 4 bones in his foot. Both will lead to some extensive time off the water and rehab. I saw another one just a week back, nasty gash in leg after release, I know another young skier who has just switched to Reflex and has injured himself twice in a couple of months. I could keep going but the point is not to bash the system, bad luck can always happen. I'm nursing my own ankle injury that happened in my Radar boot. The point I'm making here is that if your going to go with a hard boot that releases make sure you spend plenty of time getting the setup right, if your not sure then get advice.
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Dude, I've been in reflex and an r type rear boot for 5 years w no issue. I've released about 6 times in total and it works beyond perfectly. Definitely needs correct tension. Nothing is full proof and people need to check their gear/screws regularly. At 170lbs I run the spring tension on 5. Any way, for you, I'd think you would love it.
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Been on them since September. Released 2 times so far. I'm around 4 at 175lb. Seems fine. The 2 releases were OTF out the turn and I would have for sure had sore ankles with the old bindings. One of the times the ski was coming at me when came up. I was thinking I should try to protect my face in falls. It happened to me as a kid with adjustable bindings, results were stitches in the cheek.
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I've had the ski hit me several times upon releasing and tore up my shin/knee a fair bit. Still trying to figure out how to have the release break free at the heel, but not have the boot come completely off the ski. Anyone figure that one out yet? Downside is that could create a whole new set of issues/risks.
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In my experience rubber or hybrid bindings when releasing most of the times ski and binding go one way and the skier go the other, so most of the times they don't meet.

Reflexs when releasing, a lot of the times skier releases towards the ski usually hitting it with the shin and sometimes with other parts of the body.

Setting tension at a very low number might result in more hitting the ski releases, high number tension lowers that risk but increases the risk of not releasing.

Setting the tension right for your weight and skiing ability is key to minimize risks.

 

 

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I do think a lot of people use standard settings or mimic settings from snow skiing or something similar and just blindly trust that this is the best for them.

 

Yes I've been skinned up and bashed by my Reflex binding/ski. I even set my binding at a very low setting from the start and had some issues with it hurting my ankle. I'm 6' tall and 185lbs and I have had my Reflex set below the minimum setting for the last 2 years. I pre-released once and that was when I initially tried going lower than the lowest setting and went too far trying to help my ankle problem.

 

Mostly I've been skinned up by the ski when I blow the tail and then sliding over the ski. Sure that's most likely only going to happen with Reflex or some other mechanical release binding. However, I still think sliding over the ski is preferable to not releasing when I blow the tail and have the ski dig back in unexpectedly...that crap hurts!

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@ozski I too have nursed a front ankle injury from a Radar boot. Mine was my front foot only coming half way out of a Radar Strada boot. About three years ago I switched the front boot to a Fluid Motion E Series and haven't had any similar problems since. I still run a Radar Strada rear boot but do not lace it all the way to the top.

For me it has been a very good setup and I have no desire to switch to another system.

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I think the bottom line is that as with any high end sports equipment there is risk. If you do not want to get hurt stay on the dock. A system like Reflex requires a skier to understand the risks and understand how the system works. If you do not really understand how to set it up and maintain it then you are in danger.

 

If you want to just pull the binding out of the box, mount it on the ski and never think about it again you should use D3 Leverage bindings. You can get just as hurt but you will have a better idea what the release is like (from every time you take it on and off) and it will never pre-release.

 

Personally I will use Reflex binding most of next season but I will check the release every month of so.

 

See my release test

California Ski Ranch ★ Denali ★ DryRobe ★ Goode ★ KD Skis★ 

MasterCraft ★ MasterLine ★ PerfSki ★ Radar ★ Reflex★ S Lines ★ Stokes

 

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My son and I just switched to Reflex bindings because I *think* they are safer. Unfortunately, all of these accounts are anecdotal so drawing conclusions is impossible.

 

It would be incredibly valuable if we could get some real objective data on water ski injuries.

 

Although I'm no expert, I have an idea how we could proceed. One possibility would be to create a prospective database. First, we would have to get a fairly large number of skiers to volunteer to track injuries, Then our volunteer subjects would report all injuries in a prospective manner, giving all the details such as speed, rope length, bindings, course vs free skiing, etc. Once we have enough data (incidents), we get someone smart to crunch the numbers and see if there are correlations.

 

To power this study, we would need to know roughly what the injury rate is to determine how many skiers would be needed to follow and for how long.

 

BOS could be a great place to coordinate this. I might even be able to find a keen slave, I mean med student to run the project.

 

@Horton et al, any interest/suggestions? Any skiers out there with a little clin-epi knowledge?

 

Of course if we ran this project with jumpers, 5 skiers and a long weekend would provide plenty of data -;

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@laz I like your line of thinking but in a sport this size I am afraid you not going to get good or enough data. The trick here is the unseen factors.

 

The bigger problem is that no survey can capture if the skiers simply does not have the aptitude or judgement or knowledge to use the binding safely. If you use Radar binding you have to be smart about how tight they are. If you use Reflex you have to understand how the release works. If you are in rubber binding and they are so tight that you struggle to get out at the end of your ride that is just as bad. There are so many user inflicted errors....

 

 

California Ski Ranch ★ Denali ★ DryRobe ★ Goode ★ KD Skis★ 

MasterCraft ★ MasterLine ★ PerfSki ★ Radar ★ Reflex★ S Lines ★ Stokes

 

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You'd never get accurate data for comparison. Skier aptitude, aggressiveness, level of consistency at different lines lengths in varying conditions, and personal drive to reach one or more extra buoys are not quantifiable and as such, the injury data is going to be a crapshoot.

 

This sport isn't like someone trying their first backflip on a mountain bike on a homemade ramp. There is rarely a single factor in my experience that caused a bad fall. It usually starts when you're a little behind which pretty much happens 99% of passes for me, then you pull a little harder and/or longer to catch up, then you make a little harder turn and maybe get slightly out of control, now you're in a bad pulling position through the wakes and even faster and more out of control into the next buoy but you stick with it....sometimes you catch back up and make the pass, sometimes you just don't make the next buoy, sometimes you realize the gig is up and you stop there, and then sometimes you blow the tail or stuff the tip and get injured.

 

It takes a lot to write all of that but I'm guessing we've all had tons of passes like this where these decisions are made in a split second. So in that example, is it really the bindings fault you got injured or should you maybe have exercised more caution? IMO a binding is the absolute last line of defense so if you're not setting it up right or think it's going to protect you every time, your chances of injury are going to be a lot higher.

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I think even the most basic "average" data would be interesting. Binding type, injury yes / no injury type.. I think there would still be a message in there. (even if its just a wake up call) A poll might be interesting if you got the options right, a starting point at least.
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@ozski I consider myself to be a data guy. I love the stuff but am also very afraid of faulty data. If someone needs to draw a conclusion data quality can not be questionable.

California Ski Ranch ★ Denali ★ DryRobe ★ Goode ★ KD Skis★ 

MasterCraft ★ MasterLine ★ PerfSki ★ Radar ★ Reflex★ S Lines ★ Stokes

 

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The Skis don't come with stickers anymore, they come with a permanent warning. All we are doing is lowering risk, in hopes that we are minimizing. Learn your binding system, really learn it. Really study it. I've trusted one system, to the point of overlooking what should have been a petty clear design flaw.

Like a couple guys have said here, understand what your system is designed to do. If you can help mitigate something that particular setup may not do do well, do so. But like @adamhcaldwell said, understand you may very well be creating other issues.

I have had my Reflex setup save me, from the same type of impact that broke my ankle and likely would have in most other systems. I've also butt skidded across my ski a couple times, luckily I've never done much more.

I'll also add, if you get a Reflex system, don't just use stock numbers. Like @Horton says, understand how your release works, and test it for what you want it to do. Like @Waternut I've got an ankle problem, and feel that even if I didn't, the two releases I use offer more than enough tension at 3.5-4ish for me at 6'2" 195. I started with that setting on one, as it felt correct, but out of caution that I didn't have enough tension, left my other at the suggested tension. I got a late release on that one. It want bad enough to injure me, but it took me off my ski for two weeks. Ever since, I've tested those things to death.

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It's been said before, there is no guarantee with any binding that you will not get injured.

Think about it for a moment, boat travelling at 34/36 mph, skier travelling at speeds in excess of 50mph through the back of the boat, 64/68 inches of carbon fiber attached to feet, in some cases one foot.

I am no mathematician, but when you fall there is a whole lot force on your Feet or Foot and could be in any direction and depends on how you fall.

 

The hard shell gives great control, a more direct attachment to the ski and far more comfortable.

 

The rubber binding is not so direct, let's say more forgiving, requires soap and can cramp your foot during a extended set.

 

For me personally the rubber binding(D3 Leverage) has some give in it, if you have a nasty fall, you may not break bones, I have seen lots of nasty sprains but not many broken bones with the rubber binding.

 

I have never seen a pre-release on rubber but have experienced it on a hard shell, it is not nice.

 

It's personal choice, but there is a warning which comes with most water ski bindings.

 

"HIGH PERFORMANCE BINDING: FOR USE BY EXPERIENCED SKIERS ONLY. Use of this product and participation in the sport involves inherent risks of injury or death. Even if properly fitted, the binding may or may not release in a fall which could result in injury. To reduce risks: 1) Binding should be properly fitted for a snug, not tight, fit. 2) Binding must not be used by others for whom it was not properly fitted. 3) Read Operator's Manual before use."

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I had rash of incidents with my double Radar Strada's on an Elite. Tail pop and release and then hit the ski with my rear leg just below the knee. First incident required about 5 stitches. Second and Third hit me exactly in the same spot, so much so that there is only a single scar. Has not happened on my Vapor Lithium. Defiantly rather this than a no release injury.
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I have been on a reflex for 9 years with just a shin bang or two it has saved me many time but I understand snow ski bindings and mount and adjust 100 each year. I still use the 404 release I find them in the back shop bins around the NW. I replace it every few years and replace my boot every 2-3 years.

 

I believe its the best system out there. The fm e series I like the upper cuff release but not the boot. maybe I Build one out of a reflex shell?

 

Lots of skier are hurt from tail blowing out? ski must not be set up correct I cant remember the last time I blow out a tail.

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I've been skiing at a pretty high level for over 25 years. The Reflex system I have now is by far the best overall binding set up I have ever used. Nothing is perfect, but I have complete confidence in it and can just go ski. To me that's what it's about...
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The ski design has a massive effect on safety. Way more than bindings. Nothing is perfect. Reflex is close to as good as it gets. I personally like Radar boots. I have most of my high level time on hardshells. Not any serious injuries on any. Ski design have been a far more important impact than the boots for me. (Note that I have tried many ski designs - including some skippy skis that are apt to damage ankles).

 

Keep the Reflex and try a couple new safer skis.

 

Eric

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@eleeski Although your statement sound ridiculous at first, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Yes the binding seems to get the most flak and praise for injuries and saves. However, I damaged my ankle from blowing the tail regularly on my 2012 Strada after settling on one fin setting. When I switched to a 67" 2013 Quest, most of my problems went away. Then I got a little heavier and I bumped up to a 68" 2014 Quest and started developing issues in my left shoulder from skipping out on the 1,3,5 side. Thankfully most of these issues were just nagging things that I could nurse to the end of the season and continue skiing.

 

Here's to hoping for an injury free ski season on the Vapor!

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@eleeski

http://media.tumblr.com/fe497dd337d9af8479bb6398b9565d16/tumblr_inline_mg6n5ltl6X1rxe4lt.gif

http://media.tumblr.com/fe497dd337d9af8479bb6398b9565d16/tumblr_inline_mg6n5ltl6X1rxe4lt.gif

http://media.tumblr.com/fe497dd337d9af8479bb6398b9565d16/tumblr_inline_mg6n5ltl6X1rxe4lt.gif

 

California Ski Ranch ★ Denali ★ DryRobe ★ Goode ★ KD Skis★ 

MasterCraft ★ MasterLine ★ PerfSki ★ Radar ★ Reflex★ S Lines ★ Stokes

 

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Wow, a triple Panda and I didn't even link anything. Does this put me in the Panda lead?

 

As a long time experimenter with wide front slalom skis, I have had lots of skis with nasty skip out tendencies. I'm able to tune these out of my skis but I'm not sure I'd recommend the sawzall and grinder techniques I use to tune my skis on a fancy factory ski. Modern skis are quite a bit different from the old skis from the days when ankle injuries were rare. Certainly ski choice is one factor to consider when deciding what level of risk is acceptable to your ankles.

 

Eric

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@ozski I think I know the person your referring to with the 4 breaks in his foot - I'm still puzzled how that came to be - My suspicion is that the breaks occurred before the boot released then he hit the ski on the way out?? surely his hardshell would have protected the foot if it hit the ski?? strange one for sure. I'm using an OB4 - I'm not skiing at his level but it releases really well.
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Yeah a couple of people I have spoken to seem to think the break must have happened prior to release. I've never seen an injury on the top of the foot like this one.. Tendons detached as well which suggests something other than impact injury I would have guessed.
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I broke the top of my mid foot (amongst others + stuffed a joint) - the bones for the toes basically - Mine was because I partially came out of my rubber boot and the force went through the foot and broke whatever couldn't handle it...would have much rather a broken ankle and be done with it - the smaller bones are so important for foot stability etc. Saying that he'll bounce back - hopefully in time for next summer
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This is my 20th year with hard shells. I started with the first generation Fogmans with no release. I have had one significant ankle injury that occured with the fogman diablo system. I would have been injured in that event in any system. Just my experience. I know I have been lucky and probably have titanium ankles. It is smart to try to reduce injuries but some are inevitable.
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Last season I ruptured my Achilles wearing a reflex binding that DID release. It shall be putting it back on my foot this week and getting out on the water. Accidents happen and I am still a firm believer that the Reflex system is the best one out there. If you want to make sure you don't get hurt, don't do any sport!
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I believe that if we could gather stats on this, you would find several thousand releases/year and a small handful of injuries. I have released 4 times since moving to Reflex last year without issue. 3 where just too deep in offside and front flip over the tip, the other was a buoy strike and I went straight out the front. I'm 5'10" around 185lbs and use 5.5 setting.
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I currently have a purple and somewhat swollen right knee from a Reflex release where the heel of the front boot impacted me just above my hind leg kneecap. (It was a weird, low-speed tip stuff.) Prior to this, I had only a couple of minor shin bruises, and am lucky that this one falls in the "owie" category, but I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of having a hard boot where it can bash my other leg (I use an "R style" rear binding).
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Roger: If you do start collecting data to calculate stats, may I suggest that you include foot length (and/or width) and comparative ankle joint size (in at least small, medium or large). I have a long Men's size 13 medium width foot and a comparatively small ankle joint. I broke an ankle playing football in 8th grade just by turning tight in cleats. Long lever, small joint.

 

Nando: This is common in snow skiing. A foot in an plastic boot has more mass/weight than your foot alone and is harder than your foot alone. So forward fall (i.e., "face plant") will accelerate your foot to the back of your thigh/butt by closing the knee joint.

 

Andre: "You still can get hurt in all bindings." No doubt.

 

I am not a water skier. I tore two of the three tendons in my ankle and chipped an ankle bone 10 years ago when I was trying to learn and was too aggressive for my ability. Front foot came out of tight rubber boot, back foot stayed in and ski helicoptered.

 

I have now learned to be (more) gentle on my body and am considering trying water skiing again. But being less aggressive, more humble, more gentle and hopefully more subtle in my approach.

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Personal experience here. I broke my front (L) ankle about 10 years ago with wiley double pro wraps. Swapped to a release binding, then reflex about 3 years ago. Broke the same ankle with the Reflex last year. Boot released properly, guess the ankle just went first. Both ankle breaks were on the 3 ball catching the tip of the ski on the ball! This May my 23 yo son went over the front with wileys and broke his ankle pretty bad. He is on Reflex now. He took a good fall tonight and the boot released and he came up smiling, saying these things are great. I agree. Not upset about my break in the Reflex just one of those things. Reflex plus wally balls is how I roll now!!
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@Iski61 the MOB system will release in a twisting or sideways fall. Once your ankle is broken, it is broken forever, recovery is never 100%. Choose the best option for your experience and ability, but no system will protect against every possible injury.

Mike's Overall Binding

USA Water Ski  Senior Judge   Senior Driver   Senior Tech Controller

 

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Fathers Day  6/12/23, Just had a nasty ankle fracture “Pilon Fracture” using a Reflex Binding. 34mph @32off rounding 3 ball. I was running behind and pulled all the way to the ball, fin blew out and I slid sideways. The ski skipped and then landed perfectly perpendicular to the water. Like a sledgehammer hitting the bottom of my ankle. The ski then hit the water at an angle and the binding released. 
 

I don’t believe any binding system was created for an impact of this type. The doctor told me he was surprised my ankle didn’t distort like 45-90 degree angle from the impact. I believe the reflex binding saved my ankle from distortion. I was unfortunate and just had a perfect scenario to create this severe ankle injury. (“Pilon Fractures) are more of a vehicle accident or falling from a height injury.

I’ll be back using the Reflex binding system. Over the years I’ve used it it always released when required. 

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Just moved to reflex release this season after 15 years on double radar.

I'm using the new radar boot on the radar plate with 840 release.   

In the back I have an HO venom rubber.  Got it dialed in, no prerelease or crashes this year, and skiing great until yesterday morning!

Hit 6ball in a nasty cross wind and did a full ejection otf.  Front radar boot released out of the plate and back foot out of the rubber, no problem.  Swim to get the ski and back on the platform and see my rear foot is definitely got hit on the top:

I'm thinking it was either the release or the front boot that hit the top of my rear foot.

X-ray shows no fractures thankfully! But it's definitely not great..

Anyone have suggestions on how to limit injury from releasing?   The used to sell covers for the release but you don't see them around often and 8 can't find them for sale.

Might have to move back to dbl radar for a bit while the foot heals.

20230811_094145.jpg

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My guess is you kicked yourself with the heel of your front boot when releasing based on there being no blood and the use of a rear boot delaying release of the back foot. A release cover wouldn't have helped in that case.  Most people concerned with kicking themselves use a shin guard on the back leg, but that unfortunately wouldn't have helped in this case either.

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