Q: Should I wear an ankle brace for basketball to decrease my risk for injury?

A: Research has gone back and forth for many years as to whether or not ankle braces for basketball were beneficial in
preventing injury or in reducing the severity of an injury. When asked, I always recommended wearing
ankle braces for basketball if they were comfortable and did not limit sports performance. If there was a slight chance
in reducing the risk of injury, it was worth it.

Finally, the American Journal of Sports Medicine presents a large study to further answer whether or not ankle braces for basketball should be worn.

ankle braceIn the study, 1,460 adolescent male and female athletes wore ankle braces for basketball during the 2009-2010 season. Out of 112,000 total practices and games, 105 acute ankle injuries occurred. Of these, 78 were in those who did not wear ankle braces and the other 27 ankle injuries occurred in those wearing ankle braces. Therefore, those who wore ankle braces were three times less likely to have an ankle sprain. Further, for every 14 ankle braces worn, one injury was prevented. However, when an ankle injury occurred, the severity of the injury was not reduced with an ankle brace.

The use of a lace-up ankle brace reduced the incidence but not the severity of acute ankle injuries in male and
female high school basketball athletes.

The study also reports that ankle exercises were just as effective in preventing injuries as an ankle brace for basketball.

Because this is such a large study with good evidence, I will continue recommending an ankle brace for basketball injury prevention. Of note, a limitation to this study is that is that teens were assessed; therefore, the same results may not carryover to adults.

I’ll tell you this though… Next time I play basketball, I’m wearing an ankle brace…