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Proper ankle taping is generally understood to reduce plantarflexion and inversion of the ankle, and this has been shown to be the most common mechanism associated with ankle sprain injuries."
Nonetheless, the benefits of taping are reduced after about an hour of sporting practice. Researchers assert that taping becomes loose and cuts down the support to nearly negligible levels (around 40%). This is further decreased after a couple of hours of sporting activity. Furthermore, researchers have also criticized the cost associated with using tape in the long run. Mickel (2006) compares the cost-effectiveness of both ankle taping and bracing and concludes, "One study reported a cost of $1.75 per ankle when taping was used to prevent ankle sprains, resulting in a cost of more than $400 per athlete over 1 college football season. For these reasons, a number of ankle braces, both laced and semi-rigid with Velcro straps, have been developed. Such braces can be applied by the athlete, retightened during play, and present a one-time cost to the athlete or athletic program."
In their study, Dizon and Reyes (2010) found that approximately 30% of all sports related injuries had been ankle sprains. These ankle sprains can sometimes be critical as they can lead to athletes being absent from sporting activities for a long time. Most athletes prefer to wear an ankle support before their match in order to prevent any sprains from taking place. Dizon and Reyes investigated the effectiveness of the ankle sprains and in addition, also assessed the best quality ankle sprain out there. The research strategy developed for this study was a research synthesis was carried out of medical literature available in online libraries (such as MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, etc.) (Dizon and Reyes, 2010).
The inclusion and exclusion criterion for this study was that the researchers chose only those studies where subjects were either (1) adolescents; (b) adults; (c) elite and/or (d) recreational players. Furthermore, only those studies had been investigated where either ankle taping and/or bracing had been used to either prevent or treat injuries. The researchers measured the frequency of sprained ankles (Dizon and Reyes, 2010).
The results of the study showed, "reduction of ankle sprain by 69% (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.18 -- 0.51) with the use of ankle brace and reduction of ankle sprain by 71% (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.14 -- 0.57) with the use of ankle tape among previously injured athletes." The researchers concluded, "No type of ankle support was found to be superior than the other (Dizon and Reyes, 2010)."
In another study researchers investigated the use of ankle bracing vs. taping amongst 50 athletes and found, "The use of an Aircast ankle brace for the treatment of lateral ligament ankle sprains produces a significant improvement in ankle joint function at both 10 days and one month compared with standard management with an elastic support bandage (Boyce, Quigley, and Campbell, 2005)."
In another study, Nagao (2002) investigated three inter-related characteristics of the ankle injury. Firstly, he measured the "initial fit;" secondly he measured "the degree of mobility" whilst exercising; and thirdly he measured the total cost of treatment. He used 6 kinds of ankle bracing methods and one ankle taping method for the "initial fit" and "degree of mobility." Furthermore, he also calculated the total cost incurred during the test.
The tests were carried out amongst 10 subjects who had been suffering from "lateral ligament injuries" in one of their ankles. X-ray of both ankles had been taken to figure out the "degree of mobility." The researcher found, "The results of measuring between the injured ankle before and after using a brace or taping showed an overall difference of five degrees in the polar tilt of the injured ankle." Similarly, "Overall results show the more expensive braces provide both a better fit and better stability during exercise. Taping, however, provided the best fit and the least instability during exercise when compared to the braces. The question of cost also plays a role in the overall results of our research. Braces are inexpensive when compared to the costs of taping." He concluded that taping had been more effective and the athletes have to choose between effectiveness and cost issues (Nagao, 2002).
This paper provided an in-depth analysis on the differences between ankle taping and ankle bracing and player satisfaction between the two. It presented information about the different types of tapes and braces. The tapes discussed here included white/cotton tape, power-tape and elastikon. Similarly the braces discussed here included lace up ankle braces and rigid ankle braces. The findings of this paper are that both taping and bracing are more or less equal in terms of effectiveness. However, ankle taping is far more expensive than ankle bracing. Furthermore, while treating ankles with braces, this study found that semi-rigid bracing had been more popular than non-rigid bracing.
Boyce, S.H., Quigley, M.A. And Campbell, S. (2005). Management of ankle sprains: a randomised controlled trial of the treatment of inversion injuries using an elastic support bandage or an Aircast ankle brace. British Journal of Sports Medicine.39:91-96
Dizon, J., & Reyes, J. (2010). A systematic review on the effectiveness of external ankle supports in the prevention of inversion ankle sprains among elite and recreational players Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13 (3), 309-317.
Ivins D. (2006). Acute ankle sprain: an update. American Family Physician. 74(10):1714-20.
Meadows, M. (2006). Taking Care of Your Feet. FDA…[continue]
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