Many people have asked me recently, whether or not they should tape their ankles or wear braces. And my answer to them is…maybe. There are several factors one should consider when deciding whether or not to use external ankle support. First, what sports are you involved in? Second, do you have any predisposing risk factors for ankle injury? Finally, is it comfortable?
The reason why I ask these questions is to find out more about the athlete. If he/she is involved in a high-risk-ankle-spraining sport such as basketball, volleyball, or football, it may be a good idea to be preemptive in preventing sprains. And furthermore, if the athlete has any of the predisposing factors listed earlier, that just puts them at a greater risk. But the support should also be comfortable. If it isn’t, the athlete may not be able to perform his/her sport to the utmost because the discomfort is too distracting. Keep in mind however, either tape or ankle braces may take a few times being worn to get used to, so do not judge just after one outing.
Currently, research regarding external support is conflicting. Some researchers suggest this support enhances proprioceptive ability and mechanical support. Others, say there is no significance in support. With that said, there has been no research indicating that wearing these supports are detrimental to the athlete, in other words, it can’t hurt. With many researchers indicating that it does help, I personally believe that wearing support can be a positive reinforcement.