Tag Archives: ankle stability

Should Athletes Wear Ankle Braces?

13 Nov

Foot and ankle injuries  — both acute and chronic — are among the most commonly occurring injuries among athletes and other physically active individuals.  According to studies by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 25% of athletic injuries were foot- and ankle-related; and up to 35% of time lost to injury in running and jumping sports were because of ankle injuries.

Although it’s impossible to prevent every injury, strength, stability, and mobility exercises are beneficial as injury prevention strategies, and as rehabilitation to restore ankle joint muscle strengthrange-of-motion, and neuromuscular coordination.

The question is, should athletes wear ankle braces and, if so, should the use of ankle braces be situational (pre-injury, post-injury)?

The National Academy of Sports Medicine  (NASM) says no — at least not if the athlete has not suffered a previous ankle injury. Braces and tape* should only be used when there has been an injury and the joint needs the additional support. When joints rely on braces or tape for protection, they actually tend to become weaker. When given the opportunity to strengthen through normal usage, the musculotendinous fibers become stronger and can protect the area without the use of a brace or tape.

*Regarding taping, there are several disadvantages. Although taping initially restricts ankle range of motion, the tape loosens within 30 to 60 minutes of application, cannot be reused, and requires training and time to apply properly. Ankle braces are an appealing alternative to taping, as they too restrict ankle motion but can be tightened as needed, are reusable, require minimal training to apply, and can be applied more quickly than tape.

However, there is some evidence that ankle braces may be beneficial to prevent ankle injury. A recent study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health showed that high school basketball players who wore stabilizing lace-up ankle braces had 68 percent fewer injuries than athletes who did not.

Although there is some disagreement about whether or not ankle braces should be worn to prevent ankle injury, most experts agree that ankle braces are beneficial, post-injury.

“Wearing a lace-up ankle brace is effective in reducing ankle injuries in high school basketball players regardless of age, sex (male or female), or body mass index (body weight for size). The protective effect of this simple device also helps athletes who have already had a previous ankle injury from reinjuring that ankle again. This is good news since ankle reinjury is a common problem in athletes.” (Timothy A. McGuine, PhD, ATC, et al. The Effect of Lace-Up Ankle Braces on Injury Rates in High School Basketball Players. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. September 2011. Vol. 39. No. 9. Pp. 1840-1848)

Ankle braces help prevent injury by restricting motion, but those restrictions don’t necessarily result in negative effects on athletic performance. Evidence suggests that while agility may be affected with use of an ankle brace, vertical jump and balance skills may not.

Calf raises are an easy and effective ways to strengthen and stabilize your ankles.  Single-leg balance exercises, performed on an unstable surface (like an Airex balance pad), can “teach” the ankle to adapt and adjust to instability, reducing the incidence of ankle rolls, sprains, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Should Athletes Wear Ankle Braces?

12 May

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees - Game OneFoot and ankle injuries  — both acute and chronic — are among the most commonly occurring injuries among athletes and other physically active individuals.  According to studies by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 25% of athletic injuries were foot- and ankle-related; and up to 35% of time lost to injury in running and jumping sports were because of ankle injuries.

Although it’s impossible to prevent every injury, strength, stability, and mobility exercises are beneficial as injury prevention strategies, and as rehabilitation to restore ankle joint muscle strength, range-of-motion, and neuromuscular coordination.

The question is, should athletes wear ankle braces and, if so, should the use of ankle braces be situational (pre-injury, post-injury)?

The National Academy of Sports Medicine  (NASM) says no — at least not if the athlete has not suffered a previous ankle injury. Braces and tape* should only be used when there has been an injury and the joint needs the additional support. When joints rely on braces or tape for protection, they actually tend to become weaker. When given the opportunity to strengthen through normal usage, the musculotendinous fibers become stronger and can protect the area without the use of a brace or tape.

*Regarding taping, there are several disadvantages. Although taping initially restricts ankle range of motion, the tape loosens within 30 to 60 minutes of application, cannot be reused, and requires training and time to apply properly. Ankle braces are an appealing alternative to taping, as they too restrict ankle motion but can be tightened as needed, are reusable, require minimal training to apply, and can be applied more quickly than tape.

However, there is some evidence that ankle braces may be beneficial to prevent ankle injury. A recent study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health showed that high school basketball players who wore stabilizing lace-up ankle braces had 68 percent fewer injuries than athletes who did not.

Although there is some disagreement about whether or not ankle braces should be worn to prevent ankle injury, most experts agree that ankle braces are beneficial, post-injury.

“Wearing a lace-up ankle brace is effective in reducing ankle injuries in high school basketball players regardless of age, sex (male or female), or body mass index (body weight for size). The protective effect of this simple device also helps athletes who have already had a previous ankle injury from reinjuring that ankle again. This is good news since ankle reinjury is a common problem in athletes.” (Timothy A. McGuine, PhD, ATC, et al. The Effect of Lace-Up Ankle Braces on Injury Rates in High School Basketball Players. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. September 2011. Vol. 39. No. 9. Pp. 1840-1848)

Ankle braces help prevent injury by restrict­ing motion, but those restrictions don’t necessarily result in negative effects on athletic performance. Evidence sug­gests that while agility may be affected with use of an ankle brace, vertical jump and balance skills may not.

Calf raises are an easy and effective ways to strengthen and stabilize your ankles.  Single-leg balance exercises, performed on an unstable surface (like an Airex balance pad), can “teach” the ankle to adapt and adjust to instability, reducing the incidence of ankle rolls, sprains, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Ankle Strength and Stability

24 Oct

Ankle injuries are among the most prevalent of all sports injuries.  Development of ankle strength and stability is important for most sports, especially those that require running, jumping, lateral movement, and quick change of direction.  Athletes who play basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball (among others) are examples of those who routinely use these movement patterns.  Ankle strength and stability (balance) training can be easily incorporated into your training regimen.

Strengthen Your Ankles

Calf raises (heel raises) are effective exercises because they strengthen the muscle and connective tissue around the foot and ankle.  Perform them on a calf block (you can also use weight plates) to increase the range of motion required by the exercise.  Position the feet so that the front half of each foot is elevated.  Push down on the ball of the foot while lifting the heel.  Find a weight that challenges you through the suggested number of repetitions.  At ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING CENTER, we alternate among four (4) different variations of this exercise:

  • Up and down pause.  Lift and hold in the “up” position for one (1) full second; lower and hold in the “down” position for two (2) full seconds (don’t allow heels to touch the floor).  That’s one (1) repetition.  Perform three (3) sets of fifteen (15) repetitions, with one (1) minute rest between sets.
  • Single-leg.  Perform three (3) sets of fifteen (15) repetitions (steady pace; no pause), each leg, with one (1) minute rest between sets.
  • Rapid Pace.  Perform three (3) sets of twenty-five (25) repetitions (no pause on the up or down phase), with one (1) minute rest between sets.
  • Isometric.  Lift and hold in the up position for thirty (30) seconds.  Perform three (3) sets, with one (1) minute rest between sets.

Balance Training

Most of our athletes end their training sessions on the Airex Balance Pad.  It’s a rectangular foam pad, about 2.5″ thick (pictured).  Not to worry if you don’t have access to a balance pad.  Simply use a bath towel (prepare it by folding it in half, three times, to create a raised, unstable surface).  Balance training should be done in socks (or bare feet) to eliminate the “stabilizing” effect of the soles of your shoes.  Keep your upper body “quiet.”  Don’t use your arms for balance; keep them down at your sides.  Start by balancing one (1) minute on each foot, and gradually increase (15 seconds at a time) to 2-3 minutes per foot.  Perform this exercise 2-3 times per week.  This exercise works by “teaching” your ankle to adapt to instability (a roll), and has demonstrated the potential to reduce athletes’ ankle injuries up to 40%.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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