Ankle Support: Taping or Bracing


English: Sprained Ankle

Image via Wikipedia

As a Physical Therapist, people often turn to me for advice.  Since there is a basketball court across the hall from my office, I get a lot of questions regarding ankle stability and support.  Athletic trainers from high school to pros tape athlete’s ankles to help stability.  Most people have difficulty taping themselves and/or finding another person capable of doing the taping.  I am often asked if a brace is as good as tape to stabilize the ankle and either prevent or deal with an ankle sprain.

Let’s start with some facts.

  • The National Institute of Health states that there are more than 25,000 ankle sprains on a given day in the United States.
  • Inversion sprains are the most common sprain (straining the outside of the ankle)
  • Inversion sprains can be linked to the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and/or the calcaneofibular ligament (2 most common ligaments affected)
  • Garrick and Requa found lace-up ankle braces were more effective than taping on football players
  • Sitler et al. found that taping resulted in 5.2 sprains per 1000 athletes and bracing resulted in 1.6 sprains per 1000 athletes
  • Taping allows for individualization
  • Tape can loosen up between 10-30 minutes after application due to sweat

Ankle sprains are common maladies in athletic endeavors.  The research shows that braces are definitely more effective in prevention.  Taping may be more beneficial in the acute stage of an ankle sprain due to the fact that a therapist or trainer can individualize the taping to position each individual foot/ankle complex depending on which ankle ligament is most affected by the injury.  If the injury is still in the acute phase, it is recommended to see a physical therapist to diagnose and treat the primary effects of inflammation and have a successful and quick return to participation.

If you are susceptible to ankle injuries, I recommend purchasing a quality brace that laces up the front and has figure 8 straps for added support.  This is usually called an ASO Brace (Ankle Stabilizing Orthosis) and there are many different companies that make them. If the injury occurred recently, physical therapy can help speed the healing process and decrease the inflammation in the region.


Shoulder Pain and Treatment


Last week we, Advantage Physical Therapy, sent out a newsletter that talked about the shoulder.  This happened to coincide with the Mercer Island Cross Fit coach coming to me to talk about a few shoulder injuries his clients had been having.

I decided to help out by taking some videos of some simple exercises to help out with some shoulder instability problems.These videos show the proper way to perform 3 exercises that are commonly used for shoulder pain.  Remember to perform theses exercises without PAIN!  If your pain levels increase while doing these activities, please discontinue them and see a physical therapist.

Shoulder Pulleys for Range of Motion:


External Rotation (Rotator Cuff Strengthening):


Shoulder Stability (Water Bottle Shake): 


Here is a link to our shoulder newsletter.

The highlights of this newsletter are as follows:

  • An estimated 30% of adults have shoulder pain at some time in their lives
  • Shoulder pain is not normal or something that you just have to “deal with”
  • If the pain persists, you should seek medical treatment from a Physical Therapist or Doctor
  • Treatment options include physical therapy, medication, and surgery

“What does this mean for me?”

In physical therapy we will perform a thorough examination of the shoulder including muscle activity, joint biomechanics, and joint integrity.  From this examination your therapist will develop a treatment plan that may include some or all of the following:

  • Manual Therapy: joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, cross fiber/friction massage
  • Therapeutic Activities: Range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, and stabilization exercises
  • Ultrasound for pain and inflammation control
  •  E-stim: muscle and/or edema control, and pain control

Please email us if you have any questions: