Tape or Brace? Is it better to tape my ankle or use an ankle brace when I am returning to sport following an ankle sprain?Back to FAQs
Tape or Brace?
Following an ankle sprain, the ankle joint is usually less stable and has an increased likelihood of further injury, particularly when returning to sport. This is due to disruption of the ligaments which normally act as a passive restraint and support for the ankle with sideways or twisting movements. In addition, patients normally suffer reduced balance following injury, further increasing their probability of injury recurrence. As a result, patients are recommended to use either rigid strapping tape or an ankle brace when returning to sport. Both of these supports improve the stability of the ankle, protecting it from sideways and twisting movements, therefore reducing re-injury likelihood.
The decision to use either tape or brace following an ankle sprain is usually a personal choice. Tape has the benefit of being less cumbersome than a brace allowing the foot to sit more comfortably in a shoe. It may also assist with improving proprioception (joint position awareness). Tape, however, can sometimes cause skin irritation or circulatory problems and tends to be more expensive than bracing in the long term. In addition, tape is usually more difficult to apply than a brace by one person, it requires some expertise in applying it correctly, and it may lose its effectiveness faster than bracing. Bracing on the other hand has several advantages over tape in that it can easily be applied by the patient, is a lot cheaper in the long-term, and, if reasonable quality, will usually last a long-time. Some disadvantages include the heaviness of the brace itself, the brace potentially slipping or moving around in the shoe and the occasional difficulty ensuring the brace fits appropriately both to the foot and into the shoe. Ideally, a patient should try both options before deciding upon the most suitable support, prior to their return to sport.Back to top