Ankle Braces: How Do They Work and their Benefits

ankle brace volleyball

Ankle braces can provide a variety of uses, especially if you’re an athlete. They also come in various sizes and can offer varied utility.

What is an Ankle Brace?

An ankle brace is essentially a piece of equipment you attach to your ankle that features a specific combination of metal, plastic, and fabric in order to provide support and protection. Ankle braces can be outfitted with laces or velcro.

Some braces are specifically designed to be lightweight and pull-on. These lightweight braces are used to aid in compression. Compression can help with inflammation following a particularly intense training session or injury.

Ankle braces offering stronger support are designed with reinforcements on either side of the ankle to help prevent re-injury. Most ankle braces are recommended by physicians to use after you’ve suffered from an ankle sprain.

Ankle Sprain

The most common type of ankle sprain involves an inversion of your foot. This occurs when your ankle rolls towards the sole. This can cause pain and extreme inflammation depending on the severity of the inversion. If you end up suffering from this type of injury while playing a sport, you should begin wearing ankle support with heavy support the next time you play.

Eversion sprains can also occur but are definitely rarer. An eversion sprain happens when your foot rolls away from the sole.

How Do Ankle Braces Work?

The ligaments, tendons, and muscles in your ankle make up the support that protects your ankle. Ankle braces work to externally support the internal network of support you’re built with. They are used to limit specific motions. Typically, they will limit your ability to point your foot downward away from your ankle. You will also not be able to turn your foot inwards as much. A good ankle brace should fit comfortably in your athletic shoes.

Ankle braces are not an instant cure for ankle injuries. They also don’t guarantee 100% protection against future injuries. You should always consult your doctor before making a decision on whether you need one.

The ankle brace should not be so tight as to cut your circulation, but enough to support your foot. Kurt Jacobson, an athletic trainer from the Mayo Clinic, spoke on the usefulness of ankle braces. He noted that while they are an excellent measure at preventing ankle re-injuries, they are no guarantee to reduce the severity of a future injury. However, it will lower the chance of an injury occurring. 

Myths

Ankle braces are not known to cause extra pressure on your knees. They also will not lead to any sort of muscular weakness. Sometimes, the immobilization of the joint area can be thought to weaken it. This is not the case. Your muscles will act as normal.

volleyball ankle brace

What Are the Benefits of Ankle Braces?

  • Preventing Re-injury: 

If you’ve experienced multiple ankle injuries over your sports career, you might consider wearing an ankle brace in the future. It works excellently as a preventative measure for future injury. It is even more cost-friendly than constantly taping your ankle.
You should wear the brace each time you participate in any sort of intense physical activity. This will help stabilize it and get you used to the extra support.

  • Recovery: 

A good ankle brace allows you to control the amount of weight and pressure you place on an injured ankle. It also allows you to practice athletic movements with precise control as to not cause further damage. This can help reduce the chances of arthritis and chronic pain from occurring. Your healthcare provider should be able to provide you with a list of exercises personally designed for you and your sport.

  • The Range of Motion: 

While recovering from your ankle injury, you can help regain your range of motion by doing specific ankle exercises while wearing your ankle brace. Increasing your ankle’s range of motion can hamper the development of scar tissue. The less scar tissue that builds up, the less pain you’ll feel. Ankle exercises should be recommended by your physician. You don’t want to overuse your ankle if your sprain was severe.

  • Reduce Swelling: 

Ankle braces can reduce swelling by serving as a compression device around your injury. Reducing swelling can really help in your injury recovery. This can help prevent further damage and pain. Depending on the severity of your sprain, you may even need to purchase an orthopedic ankle brace.

These specialty braces are designed to completely isolate and immobilize your ankle’s ligaments and joints.
While the brace is not a 100% deterrent to injury, it certainly reduces the risk of an ankle sprain from happening. Ankle sprains are the most common injury within American college sports. Most sprains typically occur during training.

Last words:

Should you wear an ankle brace? Well, it most likely won’t hurt. Just be sure to consult your healthcare provider first before making a commitment to it.

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