Ankle braces, including the Active Ankle® line, have historically been shown to reduce ankle injury. Obviously, athletes need the best of both worlds: full functional mobility with adequate biomechanical stabilization to prevent excessive ankle movement. When it comes to ankle injury prevention, every athlete has different needs: ranging from the sport and position they play to the individuals’ injury history and preferences. Selecting the right ankle brace is a balance between stability (protection) and mobility (function).
Finding a balance between rigid and lace-up ankle braces
The new Active Ankle® Eclipse semi-rigid ankle braces offer new levels of protection in the prevention continuum. The Eclipse I (single upright) and Eclipse II (double upright) provide two new options in semi-rigid ankle protection and function.
Dr. Tony Brosky, TRAC member and head of the physical therapy program at Bellarmine University, evaluated the Eclipse 1 and 2 in 30 active college students. They were assessed for range of motion and functional tasks in 3 randomized conditions: no braces, Eclipse 1 and 2. “As with any new product in the market, it’s important to learn about its performance characteristics so we can make clinical decisions on what’s best for each athlete,” Dr. Brosky noted.
As expected, the double-upright Eclipse 2 was the most limiting in ROM; however, functional performance between both the braced and unbraced conditions were similar. The researchers noted negligible (but statistically significant) decreases in side hop and vertical hop tests with the Eclipse 2. In addition, overall satisfaction was similar between the two braces. The decreased performance with the Eclipse 2 brace was likely a result of the decrease in plantarflexion motion, consistent with the ‘give-and-take’ associated with stability vs. mobility in ankle brace selection.
The bottom line: for maximal protection, choose the Eclipse 2, but be aware of a potential decrease in jump performance. If you are willing to give up some protection, choose the Eclipse 1 more maximal mobility.
Brosky T et al. A comparison between single and double upright ankle braces on ankle range of motion, functional performance, and satisfaction of brace characteristics (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):17
About TRAC: The Performance Health Scientific Advisory Committee meets at the annual TRAC meeting to present their research on Performance Health Products