Ankle Bracing Beneficial in Preventing Injury Recurrence
A recent study by Janssen et al. (2014) published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has demonstrated that ankle braces are better than neuromuscular training in the prevention of recurrent ankle sprains.
Neuromuscular training is the completion of strengthening and balance exercises to restore ankle strength, balance, reaction time and function. This form of training is an essential component of rehabilitation following an ankle sprain.
The above mentioned study showed that 27% of people undertaking the neuromuscular training re-sprained their ankle within 12 months. This compared to 15% of people who re-sprained their ankle wearing a brace.
This study does not take into account the severity of any ankle sprain and whether a brace or neuromuscular training has any impact on the severity of any potential re-injury. The study is also non-specific when it comes to what sport or exercise the participants were undertaking, co-existing injuries, age or gender.
The study does highlight that there is a role for bracing in the prevention of recurrent ankle sprains.
Ankle braces are commonly available although there are numerous varieties on the market. Many factors need to be considered when selecting an ankle brace including the material it is made of (rigid vs elastic, does is have supportive stays down the side?), the sport played, location of injury and durability.
To find out whether neuromuscular training or ankle bracing would be beneficial to your injury, consult your sports physiotherapist.