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Injury Prevention

Ankle Injury Prevention

Prevention of ankle sprains:
 Are prophylactic ankle braces the way to go?

It is the opinion of the LFHS athletic trainers that wearing ankle braces without doing any strengthening exercises could prove counter-productive in that the athlete may become so dependent on the braces that the muscles could actually become weaker, making the athlete more prone to injury at those times when they do not wear the braces (such as while playing one-on-one in their driveway or when they forget to bring their braces to practice). Strengthening from within should be the first step; if additional protection is desired, that can be added to, not substituted for, the strengthening. In an article published in the Journal of the Illinois Athletic Trainers’ Association, Dr. Robert Dugan stated that “the role of bracing or taping may best be suited to protect injured ankles from reinjury.” In his review of the medical literature, Dr. Dugan found that “there is no significant decrease in the number or severity of ankle injuries with high top shoes, prophylactic ankle taping, or prophylactic ankle bracing.” He also found that “... in lesser developed countries where athletic competition is conducted barefoot, there are fewer reported injuries.”

There is an ongoing controversy over the wearing of ankle braces to prevent ankle sprains. Some coaches and medical professionals feel that all athletes, especially basketball players, should be wearing ankle braces for every practice and game. There are others who feel this is ineffective in preventing injury. And there is another group who actually feel ankle braces, by shifting stress to other areas such as the knee, could actually cause increased injuries to those areas. Unfortunately, there are studies and evidence to support all these views. For the article mentioned above, Dr. Dugan found that “the effects of prophylactic taping and bracing in the prevention of new ankle sprains are inconclusive.” Dr. Dugan goes on to state “the only successful programs that appear to reduce the incidence of sprains involve proprioception training, peroneal strengthening, and heel cord stretching.” 

The LFHS Athletic Trainers agree with Dr. Dugan that an ankle strengthening program is the most effective method to both prevent injuries and improve performance. For those with no previous injuries, just adding a few simple exercises to the daily warm-up routine should be sufficient. The athletic trainers are available to meet with any team to go over these exercises. Those with previous injuries should meet with one of us during the day for a more extensive individual program.


Phone: 847-582-7700   Fax: 847-582-7793