• Over 1 million ankle related admissions to A&E every year
• Different types of ankle supports depending on the condition you wish to manage
• Men between 15 and 24 years old have higher rates of ankle sprain, compared to women older than age 30 who have higher rates than men
• Half of all ankle sprains occur during an athletic activity
The ankle is susceptible to damage from rolling, twisting or falling on it the wrong way, leading to injury. It is estimated that over a million people in the USA alone visit accident and emergency departments every year because they have injured their ankle. There are lots of different causes and treatment options available for injuries to the ankle.
Common ankle injuries
Sprains and fractures are two of the most common ankle injuries. Anyone can suffer an injury to their ankle, but people who engage in sport are thought to be most at risk. Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising usually occur following injury, with difficulty and discomfort felt when putting pressure on the ankle or foot. Treatment options involve rest, ice, compression, rehabilitation exercises and the use of ankle support products. Occasionally, surgery may be advised. Treatment normally depends on which part of the ankle has been affected and to what degree. Ankle injuries can involve the bones, tendons or the ligaments.
Ankle support products have become popular, particularly amongst people who play sports. These products work by providing physical restraint and reinforcing the supporting action of the ankle ligaments. Ankle support products also provide sensory feedback to the ankle's sensory nerve, which can improve the user's sense of proprioception. Proprioception refers to the ability to understand where a joint is positioned, without needing to look at it. When proprioception is reduced, it can increase the risk of injuries.
Different types of ankle supports
There are various types of ankle support products, which normally take the form of braces or taping. Stirrup braces are often used to prevent sideways movement of the ankle, and are common amongst sports people who may be at risk from stepping on other feet. Lace-braces offer multi-plane movement protection and can resist twisting, so offer more flexibility in support. When choosing the different types of ankle support products, it is important to get expert advice to ensure that the correct one is chosen and fitted securely to offer maximum support and protection. A product that completely surrounds the ankle will ensure good compression and maximum proprioception. Sturdy straps and velcro attachments can increase ankle stability.
Many people argue that products such as braces or taping are only really effective if a person has had one or more previous ankle problems. The products may not be effective in preventing an initial injury from occurring, as most products will not be able to counteract the strong force on the ankle when landing incorrectly. However, they can offer good support to prevent further ankle injuries, and are especially useful in the rehabilitation period following a recent sprain.
Ankle rehabilitation following an injury to the ankle often takes a multi-treatment approach, where more than one method is used to get the ankle functioning normally again. Strengthening exercises may be advised, along with technique refinement, aerobic conditioning and proprioceptive retraining. Braces and taping can be used alongside these options in the rehabilitation process, although medics often advise that a person does not become reliant on them all the time, to give the muscles a chance to work.
Ankle support products should, therefore, be considered for use by anyone who has suffered previous ankle injuries and wishes to prevent further injury, or those recovering from a recent ankle trauma.
With many professionals now opting to wear sports brace following injury, Dave Regis writes for the Össur Webshop, discussing how the use of an ankle support can aid rehab following injury. Original Article: How an ankle support aids rehabilitation