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Does extra support prevent ankle sprains?

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There’s no surprise that people who run or work out regularly try to avoid these painful injuries in any way possible.

While there’s no shield that can completely avoid ankle injuries from happening, that doesn’t mean risk-free support is impossible.

With the right kind of shoe, brace, and exercise, you can give your ankles the support they need without negatively impacting your performance.

There are a few studies that suggest the foot inverts less (which is the main mechanism of an ankle sprain) when wearing high-top shoes.

says orthopedic surgeon Sara Lyn Miniaci-Coxhead

However, there are also studies saying that, in a dynamic situation, high-top shoes did not prevent excessive inversion.

So does the type of activity you’re doing matter?

I think people participating in sports that tend to have a higher risk for ankle sprains (basketball, for example) may benefit from a high-top shoe.

Dr. Miniaci-Coxhead says

She further adds that they also may help those who are recovering from an ankle injury or who are more prone to injuries.

However, high-top shoes aren’t the only way to get extra support.

Studies show that high-top shoes, ankle braces, and taping are likely all equal in their effectiveness in supporting the ankle.

Another study demonstrated that even though all those devices (shoes, braces, etc.) are helpful in supporting the ankle, the most important thing in preventing an inversion moment is the activation of the muscles that evert the foot.

So, yes, high-tops and braces can help support your ankles, but,

the best prevention for an inversion injury is having strong muscles on the outside of the foot (evertors), and wearing high-top shoes can cause these muscles to activate later and be less effective.

In the end, she says, wearing high-tops or a brace could help support your ankles, but muscle strength is likely more important than any shoe, brace or taping in preventing injuries.

She also shared some tips to avoid ankle injuries.

While many sprains heal with only home treatment, they also can require a visit to the doctor.

So, putting the shoe debate aside, here are some things that reduce your risk of sprains and injuries:

  • Whether they’re high-tops or low-cut, choose shoes that fit well. The same goes for ankle braces.
  • Watch out for slippery gym floors or uneven areas on playing fields. Be especially wary of running on uneven ground or surfaces
  • Do some stretches every day.
  • Start slow to warm up and stretch before sports or your workout.
  • Don’t exercise or get in a game if you’re hurt or tired.
  • Eat a healthy diet to feed your muscles well.
  • If you’re overweight, work toward a healthy weight.

Image Credit: Getty

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