With netball, basketball, soccer and rugby league/union seasons in full swing, there are many factors that need to be considered whether you need to be putting measures in place in order to reduce the likelihood of injury to your ankle this sports season. Let’s break it down one step at a time…
FAQ #1: Is taping or bracing better?
Current evidence does not support one intervention over another. Some factors to consider are: bracing is more cost effective in the long term, bracing can be easier if you don’t have someone to help you strap your ankle or if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, here is a nice practical, video on how you can do a neat job yourself.
Braces are often bulky and aren’t always practical (e.g. under shin pads). Some people don’t find braces as comfortable as taping. Downsides to taping include potential for skin irritations/cuts and the hassle of taking the tape off (ouch!).
FAQ #2: Should everyone be strapping or bracing?
Currently it is unclear whether strapping or bracing helps prevent an ankle sprain if you have never injured your ankle. However we know that for those who have sustained a lateral ankle sprain, bracing or taping has shown to reduce the risk of another injury by about 50%.
FAQ #3: So I’ve recently sprained by ankle. How long should I be wearing a brace or having my ankles strapped for?
It is recommended to gradually phase out the use of the brace or tape over time. If you have injured your ankle this year, I would recommend keeping them supported for the rest of the season and if you have no issues throughout the year you can consider weaning off the tape for next year. If you are someone who rolls their ankle all the time, it would be a smart idea to continue to wear tape or braces long term as at the end of the day you are doing no harm by wearing them. If you are someone who rolls their ankle all the time, it would be wise to have your ankle strength and stability be assessed by a physio to see if there is anything else you can be doing to help with this (chances are there is, with research supporting a 40% decrease in ankle sprains after a comprehensive exercise therapy program).
FAQ #4: Recommendations for bracing or taping supplies?
Having personal experience of 2 nasty ankle injuries I can advocate for the ASO ankle brace as a good, supportive, cost effective brace that is reasonably comfortable. A downside to it is quite bulky so I have noticed it has stretched out my boots. Nevertheless it is a good option if you are in the market for a brace.
Another option in the brace department is the Bauerfiend Malleoloc L3 ankle brace. This is more streamlined in the design but is significantly more expensive (approx. $300). This would be more suited for someone with an extensive history of sprains that is looking for something not as bulky but with good support.
For taping, I have found good support with Victa, MySportsTape (MST) and Leukotape. It would be recommended to use 38mm rigid sports tape. Rock tape or k-tape are generally not recommended for support with these types of injuries. Price wise with tape they usually retail approx. $15 per roll and 1 roll will usually get 3-4 ankles done (depending on how supportive you like it).
**I am not affiliated or endorsed by any of the above mentioned brands.
Often I see people in the clinic still in pain after injuring their ankle because they haven’t completed their rehab. Ensure you undergo a thorough rehab and then are continuing to do regular hoping and stability based exercises to reduce the likelihood as much as you can of re-injury. If you need a hand in rehabbing from an ankle sprain, or are continuing to get foot and ankle pain after a previous injury, we are always happy to help.