When you participate in a sport, you know that injuries are a common occurrence, and sometimes you may get hurt even with the best precautions that you undertake. Volleyball is particularly risky on the knees and ankles due to the constant jumping and squats, and chances are you may suffer some injuries as you play.
The question of whether you need ankle braces when playing volleyball is a subject that has been in debate for a long time – but you cannot deny that ankle injury is very common in the sport, resulting in significant amounts of ‘downtime’ from the game, something that you would not want to endure as a player. The question lies in the viability of the ankle braces to assist in injury prevention, but we must first understand why ankle sprains occur.
Why do ankle injuries occur?
A major cause of ankle sprains is the rolling in (inverting) of the ankle. This occurrence is mostly at the net, whenever the player makes contact with the foot of another player as landing happens from jumps when blocking or hitting the ball.
The thinking behind braces is minimizing ankle motion (awkward movements that lead to injury), though some people are afraid that dependence on braces leads to supporting muscles of the lower leg getting progressively weaker and enhance the risks of knee injuries.
The injuries to the ankle are likely to increase in the first year after your initial injury. The fact remains that an ankle without prior injury is four times less to risk injury than one that has sprained before. This is why you need a secondary program that lessens the chance of re-injury, including the use of braces.
Should recreational athletes wear ankle braces?
This depends ultimately on the time the player spends in the game. If you occasionally play the game with your friends, they may or may not benefit you much. However, regular use of the braces helps in the long-term prevention of injuries even when playing in a relaxed manner.
Findings from medical studies on ankle braces
Findings from the U.S. National Library of Medicine suggest that ankle braces actually prevent the risks of knee injuries, contrary to the opinion of some individuals. The leg muscles such as the invertors and evertors, in addition to the hip muscles, undergo strengthening and this may prevent ankle injury in future.
A study by the PubMed Journal reveals that when professional volleyball players that go through recurring sprains wear braces as they train and improve their landing techniques, the result is reduction of injury chances by two times.
Prospective studies on players at high school level reveals that two brace varieties – the Aircast Sports Strirrup and Active Ankle Trainer II – are the best ankle protectors, both for players that have and have not undergone ankle sprains.
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