Athletes Review Ankle Tape or Ankle Brace Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2419 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sports

Athletes Review: Ankle Tape or Ankle Brace

The human foot has an extremely complex structure of bones, joints and muscles. Meadows (2006) points out, "The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. With such a complex structure, a lot can go wrong. While some foot problems are inherited, many occur because of years of wear and tear."

In addition, Meadows points out a number of signs and symptoms that can lead to foot injury. These signs include:

"Excessively dry skin,

Thickened or discolored nails,


Redness, and Unusual sensations (Meadows, 2006)."

Foot injury is significant and cannot be overlooked. Even the initial signs should not be treated lightly. However, research has shown that most doctors overlook feet inspection during routine patient visits (Meadows, 2006). Ankle sprains are perhaps one of the most frequently occurring foot injuries in America. A number of studies have shown that taped ankles cause less injury while other studies have concluded that by wearing braced ankles, athletes can minimize foot injury (Reeves and Emel, 2009).

This paper provides an in-depth analysis on the differences between ankle tape and ankle braces and player satisfaction between the two. It presents information about the different types of tape and braces. The tapes discussed here include white/cotton tape, power-tape and elastikon. Similarly the braces discussed here include lace up ankle braces and rigid ankle braces. The research study also looks into what athletes prefer amongst bracing or taping.

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Literature Review

Variations in tape

Reeves and Emel (2009) synthesized peer-reviewed studies on ankle injuries. They found that many athletes are starting to prefer the power-tape. They write, "Power tape has a higher tensile strength and is more water resistant than traditional white tape. However, it has the disadvantage of being harder to tear (Reeves and Emel, 2009)."

Research Paper on Athletes Review Ankle Tape or Ankle Brace Assignment

Athletes look for stability and elastic tape gives them the comfort they need in their heels. Reeves and Emel (2009) report, "Elastic tape may be used for the heel locks, or it may be used to reinforce the normal heel locks. This is often reported as both more comfortable for the athlete or to give the athlete a sense of more stability (Reeves and Emel, 2009)."

Sometimes athletes start games with a minor foot injury and demand that the injury does not get worse. An athlete who is previously injured, "uses 1.5-in (3.8-cm) moleskin strips for stirrups and is referred to as power-strapping (Reeves and Emel, 2009)."

A number of studies have shown that athletes are now turning to flex tape and moving away from white-cotton tape also known as pre-wrap. Reeves and Emel (2009) note, "The most recent variation in ankle taping is to replace pre-wrap white-cotton tape with "flex" tape. This tape is more durable than pre-wrap and resembles elastic tape, but flex tape is adherent only to itself and not to skin. In some training rooms, this type of tape is being incorporated more and more into the ankle application with less use of white athletic tape (Reeves and Emel, 2009)."

Variations in bracing

A number of studies have shown that ankle bracing gives a lot more advantages than the traditional ankle taping. In fact, braces are considered to be a modified form of taping. Reeves and Emel (2009) report, reveal, "The concept of ankle bracing evolved from ankle taping. Braces are being used instead of traditional taping by many athletes at all levels of competition. They offer several advantages in that they are self-applied, reusable, and readjustable (Reeves and Emel, 2009)." With thinking long-term, bracing is considered to be more cost-saving and productive than taping (Pedowitz et al., 2008; Ivins, 2006).

Braces generally come in 2 types: (1) non-rigid, and (2) semi-rigid. Both have different purposes and benefits. Between these 2 variations, there exists other smaller variations; however, the most commonly used types are non-rigid and semi-rigid. With regards to non-rigid ankle bracing Reeves and Emel (2009) write that it, "resembles a thick canvas or nylon lace-up sock. Some non-rigid braces are also made of neoprene. The non-rigid style imparts some compression to the ankle and may help in injury prophylaxis but provides little medial or lateral stability to the ankle (Reeves and Emel, 2009)."

Similarly with regards to semi-rigid bracing Reeves and Emel (2009) assert, "Its construction is similar to the non-rigid but with the added feature of molded plastic struts or air cushions. These are incorporated into the medial and lateral sides of the brace, similar in orientation to the stirrups used in ankle taping. These braces provide more stability and are often are chosen during the rehabilitation and return-to-play phases of ankle injury (Reeves and Emel, 2009)."

Research Studies on the benefits of ankle taping and bracing

A number of studies have been carried out on the shoe gear, taping and bracing with regards to ankle injuries. The significance of ankle injuries can be gauged from the fact that every day thousands of athletes get ankle related injuries. Mickel (2006) writes, "It has also been estimated that over 25,000 ankle sprains occur per day in the United States, and ankle sprains have been shown to account for 10% to 15% of all injuries sustained in American football (Mickel, 2006; pg 360)."

Furthermore, ankle injuries can turn out to gravely affect the performance of athletes if they are not treated promptly. Mickel (2006) reveals, "When an ankle sprain occurs, the anterior talofibular ligament is most commonly injured, followed in frequency by the calcaneofibular ligament. Moreover, inversion sprains of the ankle can significantly affect performance and result in lost practice and game time, and they can lead to the development of chronic ankle instability and pain (pg 360)."

The use of bracing and taping varies from one sport to another. Athletes in one sport, for instance cricket would prefer taping while in another sport, such as football, where ankle sprains take place more frequently, athletes prefer bracing. Mickel (2006) assets, "The prophylactic use of semirigid ankle braces appeared to be warranted, especially for athletes who participated in activities that had the highest risk of ankle injury (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)." Similarly research has also shown, "ankle braces reduced the incidence of initial and, in particular, recurrent ankle sprains (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)."

While ankle bracing seems to be a popular choice for athletes who are into high risk sports, ankle taping seems to benefit athletes who are into either medium risk or low risk sports. For instance, in one study researchers used 2526 basketball athletes as their subjects over a period of 2 years. The purpose of the study was to analyze the benefits of taping. The results showed, "ankle taping reduced the incidence, severity, and long-term complications of ankle sprains, and that this resulted in less time lost from athletic performance (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)."

In another study, the use of ankle taping amongst 297 college football players is compared with the use of laced ankle stabilizers. The purpose of the study was to investigate which is better amongst the two. Results showed, "laced ankle stabilizers were significantly more effective than taping in preventing ankle injuries (2.56 sprains per 1000 exposures vs. 4.91 sprains per 1000 exposures) (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)."

Similarly, in another study researchers analyzed the benefits of ankle orthosis on 439 male football players and found, "the orthosis group demonstrated a 3% incidence of ankle sprains, whereas the control group demonstrated a 17% incidence, and this difference was statistically significant (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)."

In another study, impact of semi-rigid ankle bracing was investigated. Researchers choose 1601 basketball players as their subjects. The study lasted for nearly 2 years. The results showed, "the brace group demonstrated a contact-related ankle injury rate of 1.6 sprains per 1000 athlete-exposures, whereas the control group demonstrated a statistically significantly greater injury rate of 5.2 sprains per 1000 athlete exposures (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)." However, Mickel notes that there was no statistically significant difference for non-contact-related ankle injuries.

In a similar research, researchers investigated the impact of semi-rigid ankle bracing on 504 football players. These players had been divided into 2 groups. Both groups consisted of players (1) with a history of ankle injuries, as well as, (2) no experience of any previous ankle injuries. The first group was randomly given semi-rigid orthosis. Whereas the second group, the control group, was treated with prophylactic ankle support. The results revealed, "athletes with a history of previous ankle injury who were braced showed a statistically significantly lower incidence of ankle sprains (0.46 per 1000 playing hours) in comparison with those who were treated without any form of ankle support (1.16 per 1000 playing hours). Furthermore, these investigators did not observe a statistically significant difference in the overall incidence of ankle sprains between the treatment groups (Mickel, 2006; pg 361)."

Researchers have also investigated the impact of traditional taping on ankle injuries. The most common benefit associated with traditional taping measures is that it prevents twisting of ankles and provides athletes added stability. Mickel (2006)… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Athletes Review Ankle Tape or Ankle Brace.  (2010, October 9).  Retrieved October 24, 2020, from

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"Athletes Review Ankle Tape or Ankle Brace."  October 9, 2010.  Accessed October 24, 2020.