With most Australian winter sports beginning their pre season training, many would be contemplating whether to bring along their trusty ankle guards or rigid tape. The use of an ankle guard or rigid tape is aimed at reducing the chance of rolling an ankle. This injury is one of the most common injuries in a range of different sports and can keep a player out of their sport for many weeks depending on the extent of damage.
The research has shown that ankle bracing and taping have been helpful at reducing the risk of rolling the ankle, for some groups of people. This risk is reduced for all players whether they has been a previous injury or not.
Bracing or taping an ankle should only be considered as an additional prevention strategy to stretching, strengthening and balance exercises.
Who Should Strap Or Tape?
- players who are increasing the time and intensity of training and playing their chosen sport (fatigue increases the risk of injury)
- sports people who have had previous injuries
Younger sports people who are not exposed to a high volume and intensity of their sport are less likely to require ankle bracing guard or preventative taping as the participation will strengthening and balance exercise.
“So is it better to tape an ankle or wear a guard?”
When taping an ankle, it only serves its purpose if it is applied in a specific pattern to provide stability, support and comfort. The effectiveness of preventative taping is determined by:
- the skill of the person applying it; and
- the quality of the tape being used.
If done properly it can be as effective as a guard if not better, however factors such as sweat and intense activity can reduce the support of the guard during activity.
In contrast, the material used for a ankle brace is rigid and will therefore be more durable as it is re-used over and over. There are a range of guards that are available and a particular ankle brace will only help to prevent injury when it suits the individual sports person and fits correctly. It is important to discuss your situation with your physiotherapist so they can ensure you are wearing the correct guard.
Other factors such as skin reactions to the adhesive of tape and long term cost are also factors to consider. When making a decision it truly comes down to personal preference and identifying what is best for each individual. Neither an ankle brace nor preventative taping will completely prevent injuries however if used appropriate they should significantly reduce the risk.