Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Ankle FAQ

Question:

I've sprained my ankle a few times during gymnastics. It's always been mild and I'm able to get back to practice within a few days. Sometimes I see other gymnasts wearing tape on their ankles. Would this help me?

Answer:

Ankle injuries are one of the most common problems gymnasts and other barefoot athletes face. Studies show that ankle and foot problems are especially prone to injury in trampoline athletes.

Athletes in other sports often use ankle support inside their shoes. Semirigid and soft braces are available. Barefoot athletes are more likely to use tape because there is no shoe to hold the brace in place.

However, tape only offers the ankle stability for the first 20 minutes it's in place. It's also expensive when you add up daily wear and replacement for practice and events. So, it's not recommended as the first choice.

A recent study of the best stabilizing support was reported from the Institute of Sports Medicine in Germany. They compared three different ankle support systems to being barefoot and to wearing the support inside a shoe.

An aircast semirigid ankle support was used along with a soft, canvas lace up support, and tape. All three devices were tested inside a standard Nike Cross Training XT shoe and inside the same Nike shoe that had been cut out to simulate being barefoot.

They found the soft brace worked the best for barefoot sports. There are no rigid parts on this brace to cause self-injury to the athlete during performance. And they can be worn in contact sports such as judo or karate. Unlike tape, it's easy too get on and off and it can be adjusted. The ankle is stabilized without losing motion needed for the activity. A shoe is not required to hold it in place. Eric Eils, PhD. Passive Stability Characteristics of Ankle Braces and Tape in Simulated Barefoot and Shod Conditions. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. February 2007. Vol. 35. No. 2. Pp. 282-287.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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