Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in the lower extremities. In fact, an estimated 25,000 ankles sprains occur each day in the United States and about half of these occur during athletic activities.
Ankle sprains are not only common but also carry a high risk of re-injury. Once the ankle is sprained, it’s often weakened for a prolonged period of time and is susceptible to chronic ankle instability without functional support.
Ankle braces are a common and effective intervention in ankle sprain prevention and recovery. When using ankle braces with patients, it’s important that clinicians use a brace that effectively reduces incidence and recurrence of ankle sprains. It’s also important that the user is satisfied with the brace so there is a higher likelihood of compliance in using the device.
The Best Ankle Brace for Preventing Injuries and Injury Recovery
Ankle braces are an important part of the recovery process of an ankle sprain. Ankle braces are also used prophylactically during athletic performances that involve movements that are prone to ankle sprains.
Because ankle braces are not meant to completely restrict ankle movement during healing or sports, it’s important to use braces that prevent potentially harmful range of motions without limiting any needed movement.
Ideally, athletes and those recovering from a sprain would benefit from the most functional brace.
A study conducted by the Journal of Performance Health Research examined the differences between a rigid double upright ankle brace and lace-up ankle brace in a series of exercises. The exercises were also completed without a brace as a control.
The four hopping exercises selected are known to reliably determine functional ankle instability. The four tests included:
- Figure-of-eight hop test
- Side hop test
- 6-meter crossover hop test
- Square hop test
The study examined three pertinent areas of ankle brace function, including:
- Ankle range of motion (ROM)
- Functional performance
- User satisfaction
Overall, both braces limited two motions associated with ankle sprains: plantar flexion and inversion ROM. However, participants showed a slight preference for the lace-up brace.
Five Fast Facts: What This Study Tells Us
- The AS1 Pro Active Ankle Brace limited two movements associated with ankle sprains more than the T2 Active Ankle Brace: plantar flexion and inversion ROM.
- Neither brace limited dorsiflexion and eversion.
- The lace-up ankle brace was found to extend further distally, which could have a greater effect at stabilizing the midtarsal and transverse tarsal joints.
- Both braced conditions resulted in better performance times; though this was not statistically significant, it could have real world implications.
- Reasons for preferring the lace-up brace included appearance, fit, the belief that the brace could actually prevent ankle injury, and overall satisfaction.
Help Your Patients Prevent Injury and Increase Satisfaction
When prescribing an ankle brace, choose one where appropriate range of motion is allowed, while risky motions are limited or supported. Also, when you select a brace with high user satisfaction, there is a better chance your patient will use it consistently. And only through consistent use will an ankle brace be able to prevent a sprain.
This study found that most athletes preferred the AS1 Pro Active Ankle Brace when performing precarious and ankle endangering exercises.
To check out the entire study on comparing the rigid ankle brace to the lace-up ankle brace you can read the full article now or see the whole Journal here. This article was based on a study originally published in the Journal of Performance Health Research written by Kristin Dierker and colleagues from Bellarmine University.