Best Ankle Stabilizer: Rigid vs. Elastic Taping or Bracing? The answer!

Reference:(1) Chang K, et al Prophylactic bracing versus taping for the prevention of ankle sprains in high school athletes: a prospective, randomized trial. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2006 Nov-Dec;45(6):360-5.
(2) Abi�n-Vic�n J, et al Prophylactic ankle taping: elastic versus inelastic taping. Foot Ankle Int. 2009 Mar;30(3):218-25.

More than 8 million ankle sprains occur per year in the USA, and of those, up to 70% suffer from repetitive ankle sprains. Increased joint laxity / hypermobility at the talo-crural and subtalar joints has commonly been attributed to be the primary cause of chronic ankle instability.

Based on the ankle hypermobility theory, prophylactic ankle taping is thought to decrease the incidence of ankle sprains especially in athletes involved in team sports.

Prophylactic taping usually involves the use of rigid tapes such as zinc oxide tapes or Leukotape P. These taping techniques are often time-consuming to apply, quite restrictive and sometimes uncomfortable for the athlete. One prospective study compared the incidence of ankle sprains in high school football players during a single season, after randomization to either prophylactic taping or bracing of both ankles.(1)

They found no statistically significant difference in the incidence of ankle sprains between the 2 groups. The authors concluded that bracing is in fact more time and cost effective than repeated ankle taping.

Interestingly a 2009 study(2) compared the effectiveness of rigid taping versus elastic taping (e.g. Leukotape K or Kinesiotaping) on an athletic population and reported no differences in ankle restriction between the two types of taping. In addition, the athletes perceived the elastic taping as being more comfortable and less restrictive than the rigid taping.

Clinical Relevance: To help prevent recurrent ankle sprains during basketball, soccer or volleyball, we have 3 options.

1) Rigid taping: Not recommended as it is uncomfortable, time consuming and costly.

2) Elastic taping: Recommended occasionally as it is more comfortable than rigid taping, a little less time consuming, but still costly.

3) Ankle bracing: Recommended as it is generally comfortable, and only a one-time cost involved.

Perhaps future studies on ankle taping will change my recommendations!

Posted on: July 02, 2010

Categories: Foot & Ankle

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.