One thing is certain with volleyball, every year you play the sport it becomes more and more competitive, aggressive, and intense. With the increased level of play comes an increase in injuries, which are oftentimes more severe due to the higher level of intensity athletes are consistently performing at.
Most volleyball players, parents, and coaches have come to accept that the ankle is the most injured body part in volleyball – especially for those of you who play at the net. With the jumping, cutting, and diving in volleyball a tremendous amount of stress is put on the ligaments that hold your ankle joint together. This, in addition to the dangerous environmental factors at play – such as jumping and landing on another players foot – means that the risk of hurting your ankle while playing volleyball is extremely high.
Once an ankle injury has been sustained, you are 70% more likely to re-injure your ankle. Each time your ankle ligaments get stretched or torn from excessive twisting or turning, they never regain their integrity and tightness making it easier to get another ankle sprain. This cycle of injury is common amongst competitive volleyball players and if you’re one of the people who suffers from constantly twisting or spraining your ankle then you’re probably all too familiar with this process.
As a certified athletic trainer, the best advice I can give young competitive volleyball players is to help prevent the cycle of injury before it starts by wearing a preventative ankle brace that is built for athletes and optimized to enhance their performance. Soft, lace-up ankles braces can’t provide the level or length of support serious athletes need and hard plastic ankle braces are too rigid and bulky for many players to tolerate. At Ultra Ankle, we work with some of the top competitive volleyball clubs in the country for their ankle bracing needs. Here are some of the common questions we often hear from parents or players learning more about why ankle braces are important in volleyball –
Do all players need to wear an ankle brace? Or only certain positions? While most teams require all of their players to wear preventative ankle braces due to the constant threat of jumping and coming down on another player’s foot, some teams only require those playing at the net to wear ankle braces. Since our Ultra Zoom preventative ankle brace uses a material that form fits to the ankle, it only restricts any excessive movement that causes injury while allowing you to move in all of the natural ways needed to play your sport. It’s flexible enough for defensive specialists while being supportive enough for those playing at the net.
Do ankle braces limit my vertical jump? After training hard to maximize your performance and improve your jump height, it’s crucial that your protective gear doesn’t limit you in any way. The only ankle braces that limit your vertical are those without hinges. Any ankle brace that laces up, wraps around, or binds up your ankle is restricting your natural range of motion and therefore limiting your performance. If you play at the net its very important that you choose an ankle brace that is not going to negatively impact your vertical jump.
Will ankle braces weaken my ankle? Currently there is no clinical research that confirms wearing a preventative, hinged brace every practice or game will weaken your ankle or cause injury to another body part such as your knee. If you wear a hinged brace your ankle can move through its full range of motion keeping your joint flexible and your muscles strong.
Aren’t all hinged braces big and bulky or made of hard plastic that is prone to breaking? If you’ve been playing volleyball for awhile you may have noticed that some of the hinged ankle braces players wear are big, bulky, rigid and have a tendency for the hard plastic to crack. And you’re right. It’s because of those outdated designs that we developed the first performance based, hinged ankle brace that uses your body heat to form fit to your ankle for a low-profile, comfortable fit that will never crack or break. It’s not too soft and joint restricting, and it’s also not too bulky and hard. When it comes to volleyball ankle braces, the Ultra Zoom fits just right. It’s on your ankle in seconds, protects you consistently for hours, and lasts for years.
Will the Ultra Zoom ankle brace work for my specific ankle condition? Since every volleyball player and their ankle injury history is different, we offer the ability to message our certified athletic trainers directly to receive a customized bracing recommendation. If you’re interested in learning more about which one of our Ultra Ankle braces would be best for you, send our athletic trainers a message.
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.