Should You Wear a Neck Brace for Motocross? - Risk Racing

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Should You Wear a Neck Brace for Motocross?

November 23, 2021 1 Comment

Should You Wear a Neck Brace for Motocross?

Motocross is a sport reserved for the most daring of thrill-seekers. The rough terrain and high speeds provide an unmatched adrenaline rush; however, enthusiasts must be aware of the risks involved with motocross. We all know that helmets are important, but the information around neck braces is unclear. What is the truth?

Neck braces are an essential part of motocross safety gear. They minimize the risk of fatal cervical spinal injuries by preventing hyperextension of the neck, as well as spreading the impact of a crash across the upper body. A neck brace has proved to be a life-saving piece of equipment. 

There are plenty of myths surrounding the use of neck braces in motocross, and it can be difficult to know what the right choice is for you. Keep reading to find out exactly how a neck brace can protect you from a life-threatening injury and even death.

What Makes Motocross Dangerous?

If you know what you’re doing you will drastically reduce the risks associated with motocross. That being said, the nature of the sport makes it inherently dangerous to an extent, and that’s the risk that we thrill-chasers are willing to take.

Motocross courses incorporate a mixture of natural and man-made elements; on the rough terrain of gravel or mud, you’ll probably encounter tight corners, twists and turns, and high jumps. 

This can put a significant amount of strain on the body, particularly if you don’t have good core strength. You will struggle to stay on the bike, and you’ll probably be tossed around like a rag doll. 

For beginners, the rough terrain is often hard to navigate and it’s easy to lose control if you’re not careful. Additionally, some motocross bikes can reach speeds up to 100mph. This means that if you do crash, you’ll hit the ground with considerable force. 

Motocross Crash

Most Common Motocross-Related Injuries

You’re much more likely to receive an injury during motocross as opposed to regular trail riding. The following injuries can all range in severity and they have the potential to be life-changing.

  • Broken collarbone
  • Sprained/broken wrist
  • Torn ACL
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Sprained/broken ankle

If you consider yourself a professional motocross racer, you’re not off the hook either. The vast majority of motocross injuries occur during official races.

Can You Prevent Injury with a Neck Brace?

Most of us know the basic rules for motorcycle safety, the most prominent of which being toalwayswear a helmet. However, in the past two decades, more and more riders have begun to use neck braces to protect their neck and spine. Wearing one of these alongside your helmet may be the key to avoiding life-changing injuries.

What Does a Neck Brace Do?

The neck brace was invented by a South African doctor named Dr. Chris Leatt in 2003. His son was a motorcycle enthusiast and, during a race, one of his fellow riders received a neck injury that ultimately turned out to be fatal. 

The purpose of the neck brace is fairly simple; to reduce hyperextension (extreme movement) of the neck either up, down, or sideways. Neck and spinal injuries can have a devastating impact, causing paralysis and even death in extreme cases. Leatt’s research showed him that around 60% of fatal spinal injuries were a result of injury to the neck.  

If a rider does crash the neck brace is designed to reduce the impact on the neck/spine, spreading it through the shoulders and other areas that are less likely to cause a fatal injury.

Marvin Musquin in a neck brace.

Should You Wear a Neck Brace for Motocross?

Opinions vary wildly from one motocross enthusiast to another, and it can be difficult to know for sure. That’s why we’re here to answer this very question for you. 

The Pros of Neck Braces

  • As already mentioned, wearing a neck brace can reduce your risk of a serious injury. Even if you are injured, it’s much less likely to be life-threatening.
  • They’re lightweight – the design of neck braces has evolved to the point that they’re hardly noticeable when worn. If you’re put off by the thought of a giant object around your neck, know that this is an outdated notion and that a quality neck brace will provide protectionandfeel comfortable.
  • Highly durable – most modern neck braces are made from carbon fiber, a material that’s tougher than steel. This means that your neck brace will remain intact even in serious accidents. Even if it does break, better it breaks than your bones.
Neck Brace

The Cons of Neck Braces

This seemingly life-saving invention often sparks controversy in the motocross world, but why is this?

Firstly, the way a neck brace restricts your neck movement means that your line of sight is limited too. You might be unable to look upwards or to the side. Inconvenient, yes, but not a safety issue for motocross specifically since your line of sight will be more than sufficient. This would be more of an issue for road riders.

Additionally, a widespread myth is that if you get into a crash while wearing a neck brace, you’re much more likely to break your collarbone. This will only happen if your neck brace is not worn right, as a correctly fitted one will not be in contact with your collarbone at any point. Besides, most of us would agree that a broken collarbone is a nicer alternative to a broken neck. 

A quality neck brace can be expensive and some of the Leatt designs are as much as $500, but the harsh reality is that you cannot cut corners when you have a hobby like motocross. Ultimately, it’s a better option to pay for a neck brace than to spend the rest of your life paying off hefty medical bills.

Do Motorcycle Neck Braces Work?

The biggest evidence in favor of neck braces comes from a study by Action Sports EMS Inc., a Midwestern ambulance service that frequently provides emergency care for motocross-related injuries. Over the course of ten years, they discovered the following:

  • Riders who didn’t wear a neck brace were 82% more likely to receive a cervical spinal injury
  • Out of those who received a cervical spinal injury, riders without a neck brace were 69% more likely to die as a result
  • Those who didn’t wear a neck brace were 45% more likely to receive a broken collarbone

Action Sports EMS also reported that spinal injuries received without a neck brace took longer to heal and had more complications.

The evidence speaks for itself, really; a neck brace is a must for anyone serious about motocross. The next question is, which one should you buy?

Neck Brace In Action

What is the Best Neck Brace for Motocross?

This is a very subjective choice that’s dependent on your needs, but here are some examples to help you in your research.

Atlas Air Neck Brace 

This neck brace is lightweight due to its polymer construction, yet it also offers premium protection. The split-flex technology means the shoulders move independently, resulting not only in more comfort while riding but also in keeping it in place as you speed over the rough terrain. 

Atlas Air Neck Brace

Leatt DBX 3.5

From the leading brand themselves, this is a more adjustable neck brace than most. The DBX 3.5 is dirt and sweat-resistant and also folds away for traveling. The brand claims to have been proven to reduce neck injuries by up to 47%, so it’s really a no-brainer!

Leatt DBX 3.5

AlpineStars Tech Bionic Motocross Neck Protector

The interesting thing about this product is that it doesn’t come in contact with the shoulders at all, so collarbone injury shouldn’t be a concern. The back piece also works to reduce the pressure placed on the spine in the event of a crash. In combination with the foam shoulders, the comfort of this neck brace is unmatched.

AlpineStars Tech Bionic Motocross Neck Protector


Overall, the evidence shows that a neck brace will certainly do more help than harm, and it might just save your life. No matter how good at motocross you may be, you never know when one small mistake could change your life for good.

Browse the rest of our website for top-of-the-line motocross gear and make sure that you can thrill-chase safely.

1 Response

Al Gardner MD
Al Gardner MD

August 29, 2023

My son and I have been riding motocross and supercross for many years.
We started wearing the Leatt neck brace after researching the data regarding cervical spine injuries and concluded it would be foolish to not wear a neck brace.
Just our opinion.

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