We are all familiar with preventative knee bracing for lineman, but what about the ankle? After all, when these big guys are battling in the trenches they tend to get their ankle stepped on, fallen on and overall abused. Many times, the mechanism of injury is external rotation which causes the dreaded syndesmotic (high) ankle injury. With the amount of exposures these linemen have to ankle injuries in practice and games would it be wise for them to use both preventative knee and ankle bracing?
During basketball season there is not a day that goes by where I don’t get a Google Alert about some NBA, WNBA or NCAA star basketball player that is out because of an ankle injury.
This season one NBA superstar has been out three times due to a reoccurring ankle injury to the same ankle. Despite years of chronic ankle instability, and many minutes of playing time lost, will this superstar wear an ankle brace when he returns? Probably not … but why is that? Here is an elite athlete that makes millions from his spectacular play that is now becoming undependable and unreliable due to a reoccurring ankle injury that (in my opinion) could be fixed with an effective and functional ankle brace.
Just so there is full disclosure in this blog, I invented both the Active Ankle® T2 and Ultra Zoom® by Ultra Ankle®. After developing the first commercially available hinged ankle brace I was one of the founders of Active Ankle Systems in 1989 and was its President until 1996. In 1999, I was co-founder of Ultra Athlete LLC and developed the Ultra Ankle line of ankle braces. Through all of those years of ankle brace development I accumulated 18 U.S. and numerous foreign patents on emerging ankle bracing technologies.
As a university athletic training student, the first thing we learned in class was how to tape an ankle. Taping the ankle was something athletic trainers would take pride in and it was always a competition as to who could tape the ankle the best and the quickest. But looking back now, after over 30 years of being an ATC, is ankle taping always appropriate for the ankle?
The ankle is the number one injury in men’s and women’s high school and collegiate basketball. Regardless of how strong and conditioned an athlete is, it’s hard to prevent ankle injuries when you go up for a rebound and land on another player’s foot or you are cutting to the basket and accidentally step off another player’s shoe. Most of the time these ankle injuries occur when players make contact with each other and their ankle is forced to rotate inward excessively resulting in the classic inversion ankle sprain.
The great outdoors offers individuals the opportunity to improve their fitness while enjoying the beautiful surroundings that nature has provided. Sometimes, however, those beautiful surroundings can offer unintended consequences – like twisting or spraining your ankle. It’s happened to almost everyone at some point in time – you didn’t see that hole underneath those leaves and now you have a grade 2 ankle sprain preventing you from temporarily enjoying the activity you love.
Unlike most sports where ankle injuries are caused by players coming in contact with another athlete, this is certainly not the case in tennis. In tennis, the ankle injury is typically caused by extreme forward, backward and lateral movements that place significant stress on the ligaments of the ankle. These ligaments cannot handle the additional load and eventually an ankle injury occurs.
Some sports have a very high incidence of ankle injuries, so coaches and athletic trainers often times will require athletes to wear an ankle brace to help prevent the ankle injury. Yes, ankle braces can prevent some ankle injuries, however, they are really designed to lessen the severity should an injury occur. Wearing an ankle brace could be the difference in getting a grade 1 ankle sprain and missing two days of activity instead of getting a grade 2 ankle sprain and missing three weeks of activity.
Football ankle sprains are extremely common and are often a reason why players are forced to miss multiple practices and games each season. When it comes to determining the appropriate ankle brace for football players, it’s important to start by evaluating the position you play and then the injury history you have.
Seeing as an estimated 25,000 ankle sprains occur per day in the United States, it’s no surprise that thousands of people each day are looking for ways to remedy their newly injured ankle. As an athletic trainer who has diagnosed and treated thousands of ankle injuries over the past thirty years, here is my step-by-step guide for what you should do when you sprain your ankle.