If you're a runner or athlete, you've likely had several ankle injuries that need care this season.
Ankle injuries (mostly sprains) are the most common type of injury among runners and athletes. A sprained ankle can cause discomfort, even after it heals, along with a host of other problems.
Overuse ankle injuries are also common. These include conditions such as tendinitis, heel pain, and even stress fractures.
Doctors, especially those in sports medicine, often recommend supporting the ankle during post-injury activities by wearing an ankle brace or securing it with tape. But, how do you know which is best? Tie your ankle or wear an ankle brace?
It's no secret that tying your ankle is more time-consuming than putting on and tying an ankle brace, not to mention that if you don't know how to properly tie your foot, there's more room for error.
Done right, ankle taping is a great way to give your ankle more stability if you return to sports due to an ankle injury. Depending on the ligament injured and the type of activity you are doing, there are many different techniques that can be used for sports tape. Consult with your doctor or medical professional to help you decide which treatment option is best for you.
Keep in mind that if you use ankle straps, once you start getting back on or on the court, your ankle straps will loosen and may not provide enough ankle support to prevent further injury. It's also important to be cautious and understand the best technique for ankle strapping, because if your ankle isn't strapped properly, it won't provide enough support to reduce the risk of injury and can lead to more serious problems.
Both tying the ankle and wearing an ankle brace during sports and activities can reduce the risk of ankle injury, however, ankle braces are generally considered the best option for ankle protection.
Ankle tape can be supportive, but ankle braces are thicker and stiffer, which means more support and protection for the ankle and ankle joint. A good ankle brace will mimic the effect of an ankle tie using prefabricated sleeves with adjustable straps.
The cost of ankle braces varies by material, quality, however, they tend to be more cost-effective than tape because they can be reused as needed to provide support and protection. Ankle braces can also lose some support and come loose during or after exercise, but they can be easily readjusted, which takes less time than reattaching the ankle.
Ankle braces further help stabilize and support the ankle joint to avoid future injuries, reduce pain and swelling, and prevent future injuries. There are many different ankle braces depending on the type of injury you have and the level of support you need.
Tape or braces...is that the problem?
Ankle sprains are the most common sports-related injury in the United States, with an estimated 12 million injuries each year. These injuries can result in significant time away from competition and practice. It would be great if there was only one simple way to reduce the number and severity of these injuries. It is for this reason that the practice of tying the ankle before injury was introduced more than 60 years ago.
So, how does tying or bracing the ankle reduce the incidence and severity of sprains in athletes? One explanation for how it works comes from a study that found that athletes who wore tape improved proprioception, which is the body's ability to understand where the ankles and feet are, how fast they're moving, and whether they're starting to roll over. When they were compared, athletes with banded ankles had better proprioception before and after exercise than athletes without banding. The theory is that ankle sprains are reduced due to the improved sensory input and proprioception provided by the tape or brace's traction and/or pressure on the skin of the foot and ankle.
Another common concern often expressed by the public is that hitting or bracing the ankle for extended periods of time can weaken the ankle and make it more prone to injury; this is clearly a strong argument against the use of ankle straps or braces. However, another scientific study looked at the effects of continued use of an ankle brace on the peroneus longus muscle, an important stabilizer of the ankle joint, especially to prevent varus, the most common type of ankle injury. This study showed that the firing and working abilities of the peroneus longus were not altered by prolonged wearing of the ankle brace.
Numerous studies have been done comparing banded and braced ankles to determine which is better. Some studies struggle to control for all the different variables that can lead to ankle injuries. Most people indicated that braces are slightly more effective than tape, but both are better than no support. One study found that simply wearing high-top sneakers instead of low-top sneakers could prevent some ankle injuries, and that high-top plus straps were more than 50 percent less likely to hurt than low-top plus straps.
Shoes can be expensive, but they're an important piece of athletic gear, just like your helmet, mouthguard, or shin guards, both on and off the court. Having a good pair of shoes designed for your specific sport can help prevent many injuries.
Whether you're recovering from an injury or just looking for some extra support and protection around your ankle, it can give your ankle the support and protection it needs. The best ankle braces have an anatomical design for a good fit and adjustable laces and straps for comfort and stability.