Ankle Bracing

What Is Ankle Bracing?

Ankle Bracing is usually performed in high impact sports to support the ankle ligaments and prevent recurring injury of the ankle . Almost 30% of all sporting injuries occur at the level of the ankle.

These lateral injuries tend to lead to the longest injury recovery times and extended time sidelined compared to other sports injuries.

The prevalence of re injury or further injury is greatly increased following an acute strain.

Why Do Sports People Use Ankle Braces?

Ankle braces/supports are used to provide stability to the tissues surrounding the ankle joint. Ankle braces are designed to limit ankle movement particularly in high-impact sports where there is a lot of side-to-side movements such as netball, basketball, tennis, soccer, rugby and AFL.

The most common way an inversion injury occurs to an individual’s ankle is landing on another players foot after a jumping action, twisting the ankle and often creating muscle tears.

Ankle braces are used in sports where there is a high frequency of cutting and twisting movements and also repetitive stopping and starting.

Wearing of tape or an ankle brace has been shown to cause no loss in an athlete’s performance and does not reduce a muscle’s contraction force.

There is evidence that wearing an ankle brace or strapping with tape can reduce the likelihood of an injury occurring in a previously injured player by 70%.

A podiatrist or physiotherapist will recommend some method of ankle supports be used for risky sports or activities. Ultimately this will lead to less injury and more time doing what you love.

Great footwear and playing in good health lowers the risk of injury in sports.

Bracing vs Taping

Studies show minimal benefit of one method over another. Comfort and the state of recovery are the best indicators of which method to use. Commonly combining both when first getting back to sport can be used.

Protection , joint range of motion, level of compression, how well it will conforms to your body, is it durable or too bulky are all factors to consider for the athletes or weekend warrior.

Ankle taping tends to fit into shoes better and can provide varying levels of support to allow it to conform to the amount of support required at that moment in time.

Drawbacks of ankle taping can include allergy on skin, cost of straps, strapping can become loose, tight or just fall off.

Tape is almost impossible to stick to wet or sweaty skin not to mention the glue used to stick it on is hard to remove. Pain from removing over hairy areas!!!.

Ankle braces must be well fitted and tend to have a fixed pre determined level of support. Swelling can be a problem for braces too. Long term the brace will be better on the wallet.

Basketball, Netball and Close Quarters Sports

    Netball, Basket ball, and sports where there is close contact with other players put you at particularly high risk of exposure to lateral injury.

    On average if you spend 110hrs on court you will sustain a serious injury. Of these injuries, close to 40%, will be to the lateral ligaments of the ankle.

    It is my recommendation athletes should only wear a brace or tape if you have had a previous ankle injury including a recent sprain.

    If however, you are playing in a high-risk sport like those mentioned above then It is advisable to only use a brace or tape in competitive training and on game day.  General training and skills should be completed without the brace or tape on.

    Residual damage from a previous injury should be rehabilitated to a point where the athlete can run jump and sidestep without pain before returning to sport with a brace.

    If the ankle is unstable or pain is felt more rehabilitation should occur before return to training and eventually competition.

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