One of the many safety techniques used by sports medicine professionals for over a century is preventative and rehabilitative bracing of the joints from the wrists to the knees to the ankles. Almost all bracing began using a lace-up corset method but as technology has advanced this 100+ year old solution is no longer considered the best option for bracing, especially for the knee and the ankle.
Both the lace-up knee brace and the lace-up ankle brace were developed in the 1880s, however, only the lace-up knee brace became obsolete in the early 1980s when the modern hinged knee brace was introduced. The lace-up ankle brace is still widely used by medical professionals although they are beginning to experience the same transition from lace-ups to hinged-cuff designs for ankle bracing as they did with knee bracing – better functional technology always wins out in the end.
If you asked a medical professional to use a lace-up KNEE brace on a patient/athlete in 2016, they would probably look at you like you were crazy – so why is it still the norm in today’s modern medicine landscape to continue to utilize a lace-up corset for the ankle joint instead of using the same hinged technology that is found in the most evolved knee braces?
We had the same question, so in the year 2000 the founder of Ultra Ankle patented the design for the first hinged-cuff ankle brace after pioneering the ankle brace revolution with his invention of the hinged brace in the early 1980s. Since then many updates have been made to the hinged-cuff brace to introduce features such as the soft shell (which uses body heat to custom-fit the ankle) and comfortable interior padding all with the continued goal of providing full, natural range of motion while stabilizing the joint and ensuring athletes stay at the top of their game.
As athletic trainers continue their education on providing the best possible solutions for their players/patients it’s crucial that their knowledge of ankle bracing evolves from the days of the lace-up brace (which was invented in 1887) to present times. If you have any questions about the evolution of Ultra Ankle’s products, or you’d like to learn more about ankle bracing and how your team could benefit from updating from the century-old lace-up – we’d love to hear from you.
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.