An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries, making up a quarter of all sporting injuries. But luckily, whether in sports or just in everyday life, there are two fantastic ways that are scientifically proven to reduce ankle sprains and protect ankles.
Millions of ankle sprains worldwide
In the Netherlands alone, they see a massive 580 000 ankle sprains a year and the US it is estimated that there are 628 000 per year! And keep in mind that half of those are from athletic participation, so it is just as common to injure your ankle off the sporting field in day-to-day life. (1)
Given this high occurrence of ankle sprains, one would think that everyone knows just what to do to rehab them back to 100% and prevent them happening but it seems that it is almost the opposite. It seems that because ankle sprains are so common – they are brushed off as “normal” with comments like:
“It’s alright, my ankle rolls all the time, it’s just an ankle sprain”
“I’ve got weak ankles”
But really, there are proven ways to prevent ankle injury that are cost-effective and they work and given that the risk of re-injury is DOUBLE in the first year after injury – why would we not do more to prevent this?
That’s where a couple of great recent studies come into play that shows what non-surgical options help heal an ankle sprain well and help prevent re-injury:
And don’t worry, they are just brief summaries, not a big write up!
Study 1: An earlier study (systematic review – the highest level of evidence) in 2010 found that taping, bracing and neuromuscular (balance) retraining are each individually linked to a 50% reduction in ankle sprain risk. Who could say no to a 50% less chance of reinjury right? (3)
Study 2: Following on from this study some researchers went a step further to figure out actually what was MORE effective between bracing and neuromuscular retraining.(2)
This is what they found:
- Bracing is superior to neuromuscular training for the prevention of self-reported ankle sprain recurrences.
- Bracing is associated with an added 47% reduction in risk of recurrence versus neuromuscular training.
- bracing was proven effective when prescribed during sports for 12 months, the prescription period of brace use in athletes needs to be extended, instead of being phased out.
So if you had sprained your ankle in the past 1-2 years or have issues with ankle instability, our evidence-based advice would be to keep a good ankle brace and massively reduce the risk of reinjury.