Frequently Asked Questions

I keep spraining both my ankles. I don't even know why this happens. I'll be walking along and all of a sudden, my ankle turns and I'm down. Would an ankle brace or taping help?

When you sprain an ankle over and over, it's definitely time to do something different. Some experts do suggest taping the ankle. The idea is to increase the sensory messages to the joint and surrounding muscles. The hope is that this extra input will improve how quickly and accurately the ankle detects even the slightest change in position. Proprioception is the term we use to describe the joint's sense of its own position. Kinesthesia refers to detection of movement of a joint or body part. No one knows exactly why taping the ankle increases proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. It's not really even clear if taping is what improves the joint's ability to detect movement. You may want to consider combining a program of exercises to restore normal proprioception with taping. Proprioception rehab has been shown to make a difference in how well your ankle responds to even small changes in ankle motion. Taping seems to work as well, though a recent study showed that it's not because it improves proprioception. There's likely some other (as yet) unknown reason. A physical therapist can help you set up a program that you can do at the gym or health club (if you are a member somewhere). If you don't have access to exercise equipment, it's easy enough to make do with what you have at home. Expect to take four to six weeks to change movement patterns and improve joint position sense. You should see a difference in how often and how easily your ankles turn unexpectedly.

Kathryn M. Refshauge, DipPhty, GradDipManip Ther, MBiomedE, PhD, et al. The Effect of Ankle Taping on Detection of Inversion-Eversion Movements in Participants with Recurrent Ankle Sprain. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. February 2009. Vol. 37. No. 2. Pp. 371-375.

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