You’ve sprained your ankle playing sport and want to get back before your ligament has completely regained its strength…..do you tape or brace?
If you’ve hurt yourself at sport and are trying to return to playing, ‘should I strap it or brace it?’ is probably a question that you’ve asked yourself at one time or another, so today I thought I’d run you through some things to consider before choosing either.
Ideally you wouldn’t use either long term. It will be expensive and your injured tissues won’t regain their strength and functionality as they used to have.
Things to consider :
- Cost – If you think you’ll only need the support short term, allow that every time you’re going to buy a roll it will cost you $5-10.
- Free Wax – If you’re a typically hairy person this could be a positive or a negative depending on what look you’re after.
- Team sports – Often certain sports won’t allow you to use certain pieces of equipment, such as braces, particularly if they have to potential to cause harm to yourself or other players. Whereas tape seems to be okay across the board.
- Can often be very difficult to apply properly yourself.
- Skin irritation – many people are allergic to the glue in the tape. There are some hypoallergenic tapes that can help with this, but again will cost you a fortune.
- There are some opinions that regular tape will only hold its structural integrity for around 20 minutes – particularly for a shoulder injury that we still need to move around to participate.
Things to consider :
- Before planning on wearing it to your sport make sure the competition allows the device to be used, particularly heavy braces or those containing metal often aren’t allowed.
- It’s a one-time buy. If you plan on playing netball for the next decade the hip pocket will appreciate you forking out for a good brace rather than loading up on tape week in week out.
- Not every brace works for you. For example, ankle braces are often ‘One size fits all’ and may not be supportive enough for your particular injury. Be sure the device you’re getting will help prevent ongoing damage.
- You won’t have skin irritation; at worst you’ll get a little bit sweaty but won’t have the allergen potential of your typical tape.
- Can be quite bulky – can you still wear you shoes properly?
- According to current literature, bracing is twice as effective as preventing ligament injuries of the ankle compared to rigid tape.
So which is best?
In conclusion, should you only need support for a couple of weeks, rigid taping is probably the go, provided you know someone who can apply the tape correctly (one of our amazing osteopaths perhaps?) and if you’re not allergic to the adhesive. However should you require support long term bracing would be a more logical solution.
Ideally you wouldn’t need bracing for too long, with appropriate rehabilitation we can strive to get your body as strong as it was pre-injury, some people just like the external support for peace of mind, and that’s okay!