Ask a PT: Ankle brace or tape?

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Question: My daughter is a soccer player and recently injured her ankle. When she returns to sports, is it better for her to use an ankle brace or have her ankle taped?

Answer: This has been a topic of hot debate and research in the sports medicine field for years. Athletes prefer a great ankle tape job to the rigors and discomfort of a standard lace-up or Velcro with compression types of ankle braces.

So what does the research show? There really is no difference in terms of reducing injury risk whether you utilize a brace or tape to support a previously sprained ankle. Both work well, although keep in mind you can still injure your ankle while wearing a brace or tape (research shows less frequent sprains, but no reduction in injury severity, even though there are exceptions observed clinically when a brace or ankle taping likely reduced re-injury severity). In the typical athletic training room or team athletic tape budget, braces are certainly more convenient and cost effective for both practice and games, home and away. In case you were wondering, if you have never sprained your ankle, research shows that braces and tape do not have any ability to reduce ankle injury risk.