Sports Ankle Support
Ankle sprains are the most common sports-related injuries in the United States, accounting for an estimated 2 million injuries per year.This correlates to significant time away from games and practices. A practical method of decreasing the number and severity of these injuries would obviously be of great benefit. For this reason, the concept of prophylactic sports ankle support wrapping was introduced more than 60 years ago.
The concept of ankle bracing evolved from ankle taping. Braces are being used instead of traditional taping by many athletes at all levels of competition. They offer several advantages in that they are self-applied, reusable, and re-adjustable.In the long run, they are likely more cost-effective than taping.
Braces generally come in 2 types, although small variations exist depending on the manufacturer.The first is non-rigid and resembles a thick canvas or nylon lace-up sock. Some non-rigid braces are also made of neoprene. The non-rigid style imparts some compression to the ankle and may help in injury prophylaxis but provides little medial or lateral stability to the ankle.
The second type of spots ankle brace is the semi-rigid. Its construction is similar to the non-rigid but with the added feature of molded plastic struts or air cushions. These are incorporated into the medial and lateral sides of the brace, similar in orientation to the stirrups used in ankle taping. These sports ankle support braces provide more stability and are often are chosen during the rehabilitation and return-to-play phases of ankle injury.
Prospective studies have met with difficulty in controlling all of the variables associated with ankle injuries (eg, playing surface, shoe wear, individual inherent stability, intensity of competition on both a team and individual level). Most have shown that ankle braces are slightly more effective than taping but that both are better than no support.