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?
When consider preventative ankle bracing for football lineman, there are a few priorities to keep in mind to ensure they are getting the best brace for their specific needs.
Compliance / Comfort
As with any sports medicine product, an ankle brace is only effective if the athlete wears it in the first place – which means athlete compliance should be a top priority. One of the biggest reasons we hear as to why athletes aren’t wearing an ankle brace recommended to them by a sports medicine professional is because it’s too uncomfortable to wear during activity. Any preventative ankle brace worn by lineman through long practices and tough games must be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time so they will actually keep it on.
Typically, when looking for a “comfortable” ankle brace, athletic trainers lean towards the lace-up, cloth type of braces and keep away from the harder, rigid plastic ankle braces. Lace-up style braces may be comfortable during activity, but they lose support rapidly, while rigid plastic braces that may provide good support are often uncomfortable, big and bulky.
In the past decade, newer materials have been developed in ankle bracing so that athletic trainers no longer must choose between low support cloth braces or rigid plastic braces. Ultra Ankle braces, for example, are designed with this newer, flexible material that uses a player’s body head to form-fit to the ankle. This new thermoplastic material provides the strength to stabilize the ankle with the comfort factor needed for athlete compliance.
Effectiveness / Hinged-Cuff Design
When athletic trainers are considering new ankle braces for their athletes, they are not only worried about the comfort level and materials but also the reasoning behind the design of the ankle brace.
When it comes to choosing an ankle brace for football lineman, you want to choose one that can help restrict excessive inversion/eversion and external rotation that causes syndesmotic ankle injuries. This priority really narrows the field down to ankle braces that have a hinged-cuff design. Where the hinge allows full plantar and dorsiflexion (which is great for getting down in your stance) the cuff encircles the posterior lower leg and provides the stability necessary to help prevent excessive external ankle rotation.
Durability / Lasts All Season
Once you’ve found a comfortable ankle brace that athletes will wear and that utilizes a design that helps prevent both low and high ankle injuries, the only thing you have left to worry about is how long that brace will last. If your ankle braces are rapidly losing support during activity and causing injuries or breaking/cracking half way through the season then they are not only terrible for your budget, but very unreliable.
The best ankle braces for athletes such as lineman must be durable enough to last an entire season and still be effective at controlling excessive joint movement. When looking into preventative ankle braces for football players, make sure to check out the product’s warranty. If a product isn’t guaranteed, then how do you know it will be effective and durable enough for your high performing athletes? Our preventative ankle brace, the Ultra Zoom, will never crack, break or tear. It will maintain its structural integrity over multiple seasons, saving you money and giving your athletes the peace of mind. It’s on in seconds, protects consistently for hours and lasts for years.
Football Lineman & Ankle Braces
Collegiate football teams that have decided to implement preventative ankle bracing for their lineman have found this to be an effective strategy at reducing injuries. However, it takes both the will of the athletic trainers and coaches to implement and enforce the program and an ankle brace that can deliver the comfort, effectiveness and durability necessary to make the program successful. Our in-house athletic trainers work with top collegiate and pro football teams to implement ankle bracing protocols that benefit players by keeping them safely in the game while playing their high-impact sport.
If you have any questions about preventative ankle bracing for lineman or would like more information on how to implement a new ankle bracing protocol for your football team send us a message or leave us a comment below.
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.