When watching your favorite sport, you have probably noticed taped ankles as well as braces. Some players have their ankles taped as a protective measure (many college football teams) while others have had an injury in the past that they want extra support to prevent future injuries. So how much does tape really help? If you are a skeptic and think that tape couldn’t possibly be strong enough to make a difference, you are kind of right. Tape has been shown in studies to lose effectiveness as soon as 15 minutes after application. So why do we still use it? While the tape’s mechanical features fade with time, heat, sweat and motion, there is thought to be a component of neurological support that is gained when an ankle is taped. In short, having your ankle taped makes you subconsciously more aware of your foot and ankle’s position in space and can alert your body to the need for protecting this area with activities. Bracing holds up better than taping, provided it is the correct brace. The materials used in current ankle braces usually consist of a compressive inner sleeve as well as strappings which have less ‘give’ to them – providing support. The can wear out as well, but depending upon the activities they don’t wear out nearly as quickly as tape.
If you feel unstable walking on uneven surfaces (or especially if you experience this on flat surfaces), a foot exam is a good place to start. Some very simple measures can help to improve your ankle strength and your stability and the key is not to wait until you have an injury! Call and make an appointment today!