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Lace-Up Ankle Braces: More Harm than Help?

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 4, 2016 1:00:00 PM / by Rick Peters

Rick Peters

A new study conducted at the University of South Alabama has concluded that wearing a lace-up ankle brace negatively affected ankle joint motion and muscle function by significantly decreasing plantar flexion-dorsiflexion ROM across the velocity spectrum and by significantly decreasing muscle torque, work, and power. These findings are critical in aiding sports medicine professionals recommending ankle bracing to their athletes and patients. 

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Effects of Lace-Up Ankle Bracing on Isokinetic Muscle Function and Joint Range of Motion

John E. Kovaleski PhD, ATC., University of South Alabama – Mobile, AL

Context

The primary purpose of ankle bracing is to maintain normal joint mechanics and permit normal muscular responses. Athletic tape and lace-up bracing have been shown to restrict sagittal plane motion and may not be appropriate for activities that require full dorsiflexion and plantar flexion range of motion. When sagittal plane motion is restricted, then the performance of a functional task could be negatively affected. No comprehensive analysis of the differences in muscle function and joint ROM between the ASO™ lace-up ankle brace and no-brace has been reported.

Objective

To examine the effects of the ASO™ lace-up brace support on ankle plantar flexion and dorsiflexion (PF-DF) Isokinetic measures of muscle function and joint ROM. 

Participants

Dominate ankle of 12 male athletes (21.5 ± 1.1 years, 82.9 ± 6.5 kg, 175.8 ± 7.8 cm). 

Interventions

Subjects were randomly assigned to two Isokinetic testing sessions consisting of wearing an ASO™ lace-up ankle brace and no ankle brace while wearing their own low-top athletic shoe. PF-DF strength was assessed isokinetically for 5 maximal contractions performed at 30°/sec, 120°/sec and 180°/sec. Following the strength tests, a maximal work performance test consisting of 15 PF-DF repetitions at 180°/sec was performed. 

Results

The results of this study indicate the

ASO™ lace-up ankle brace significantly decreased ankle joint ROM and Isokinetic measures of muscle torque, total work, and power (Tables 1 and 2).

Conclusions

Wearing the ASO™ lace-up ankle brace negatively affected ankle joint motion and muscle function by significantly decreasing plantar flexion-dorsiflexion ROM across the velocity spectrum and by significantly decreasing muscle torque, work, and power. Objective information on how lace-up bracing affects muscle performance and joint range of motion should assist the sports medicine professional when recommending ankle bracing to patients. 

 

Topics: Athletic Training, Ankle Bracing

Rick Peters

Written by Rick Peters

Rick Peters is a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been advancing ankle bracing technology for three decades. Peters patented his first ankle brace in 1985, revolutionizing the industry by adding a hinge to traditional stirrup braces for greater mobility. In 1989 he was a founder and became President of Active Ankle Systems. In 1998 he co-founded Ultra Athlete LLC to develop the next generation of ankle bracing technology. Peters has 18 ankle brace patents and is considered an authority on ankle bracing technology worldwide.