Ankle bracing vs taping: which is better?
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Ankle sprains are the most common lower limb musculoskeletal injury suffered in sports. Taping & bracing are often recommended as part of treatment & injury prevention, so which is best?
Firstly, do they even work?
Yes. Multiple studies have supported their use in preventing injury & re-injury:
"Athletes wearing ankle braces had 64% reduced risk of sustaining another sprain vs not bracing". (Bellows 2018)
For the prevention of recurrent lateral ankle sprains, ankle braces should be considered as an efficacious option. (Vuurberg 2018)
4wks bracing vs taping, equal rates of recurrence & incidence of residual symptoms. (Kemler et al 2015)
Secondly, what are the PROs & CONs of each?
Cost? Ease of use? Comfort? Size? As you can see in the image below, there are a number of considerations here. It will come down to personal preference on which method ticks all the boxes for you.
Will bracing & taping weaken your ankles?
This is often a concern, but there is currently NO evidence to show that they do. Conversely, a 2000 study by Cordova showed the use of an ankle brace did NOT change the activity of peroneus longus (an important stabilizer of the ankle). (Cordova 2000)
How long do you need to wear them?
This will depend on a number of factors including your injury severity, the speed of your full functional recovery & your previous injury history. You may need to tape or brace up to 12months after the initial injury.
It's vital to note that bracing & taping do NOT replace adequate rehabilitation. You must ensure that you achieve full functional recovery of your ankle!
If you need help with your ankle sprain, please don't hesitate to contact us!
Bellows, R. and C. K. Wong (2018). "THE EFFECT OF BRACING AND BALANCE TRAINING ON ANKLE SPRAIN INCIDENCE AMONG ATHLETES: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW WITH META-ANALYSIS." Int J Sports Phys Ther 13(3): 379-388.
Cordova, M. L., et al. (2000). "Long-term ankle brace use does not affect peroneus longus muscle latency during sudden inversion in normal subjects." J Athl Train 35(4): 407-411.
Kemler, E., et al. (2015). "Effects of soft bracing or taping on a lateral ankle sprain: a non-randomised controlled trial evaluating recurrence rates and residual symptoms at one year." J Foot Ankle Res 8: 13.
Vuurberg, G., et al. (2018). "Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ankle sprains: update of an evidence-based clinical guideline." Br J Sports Med.