The Influence of Ankle Braces on Functional Performance Tests and Ankle Joint Range of Motion

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: The lateral ankle sprain is one of the most common lower-extremity injuries in sports. Previous research has found that some prophylactic ankle supports reduce the risk of recurrent ankle sprains and provide extra support to the joint. However, there is a continued concern that these supports may negatively influence performance. Objective: To determine if wearing an ankle brace influences athlete performance and ankle kinematics during functional performance tests. Design: Repeated measures. Setting: University gymnasium. Other Participants: Male and female recreational or competitive athletes (n = 20). Intervention: Participants performed 3 trials of a standing long jump, vertical jump, 40-yard sprint, and T-drill under each of the following 3 conditions: wearing traditional lace-up brace (brace 1), modified lace-up brace (brace 2), and no-brace. Main Outcome Measures: A 2-dimensional motion capture camera was used to measure ankle range of motion (ROM) in the sagittal plane during the vertical and standing long jumps and in the frontal plane during the cutting phase of the T-drill. Performance of each test and ankle ROM were compared between each of the braced conditions. Results: Ankle braces did not influence performance in speed or agility functional performance tests (P > .05). Ankle braces negatively affected performance of the standing long jump (P = .01) and vertical jump (P = .01). There was no significant difference between brace or no-brace conditions in ankle inversion ROM during the T-drill (P > .05). Both brace conditions restricted ROM in the sagittal plane during the vertical and standing long jumps (P < .05). Conclusions: Braced conditions restricted sagittal plane ROM during the vertical jump and long jump. This decrease in ROM explains the decline in functional performance also seen during these tests.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

Gruber (ahgruber@indiana.edu) is corresponding author.
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