Dieter Rosenbaum, PhD, directs the motion analysis lab in the orthopedics department at University Hospital in Muenster, Germany, where he and his team have quantified aspects of ankle stabilization.
Their research has shown that bracing appears to have little effect on performance and that braces are much more effective when worn with shoes.They have also found that braces function primarily by restricting inversion during the free-fall phase rather than at the extremes of motion.1,14,15 The findings carry implications for athletes who wear shoes and those who don't.
"If athletes compete barefoot, for example in gymnastic floor exercises or trampolining, they might think they are getting good support from a stabilizing ankle brace, but it might not do the same job as it would if worn with shoes," Rosenbaum
In their 2006 study, he
team found that stirrup braces provided 19% and 29% less stability for inversion and eversion, respectively, when used without shoes.One common solution is to use taping in these athletes, but as already noted, tape has limitations.
"Tape initially has the highest stabilizing effect, but this effect is lost because the material tends to give slightly, and you don't have the means to tighten it up," Rosenbaum
said."Lace-up or Velcro-closure ankle braces are quite nice because you can retighten them once you have lost the initial stability."Rosenbaum
said that clinicians must consider patient compliance as part of any bracing strategy.
"If you have the best brace design but the athlete doesn't wear it, it is not of any use," he