May 2011

Postural stability decreases with taping but not bracing in Gaelic football study

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Athletes concerned about dynamic postural stability, such as those with a history of ankle sprain, may be better off with ankle bracing than taping, according to an Irish study presented in Monaco in April.

In a study of 15 male Gaelic football players with no history of ankle injury, investigators from University College Dublin found that dynamic postural stability index scores were significantly higher (indicating less postural stability) when subjects’ ankles were taped than when they wore a lace-up ankle brace or no brace. The DPSI was calculated as subjects performed single leg drop landings from a 40-cm step onto a force plate. The three ankle support conditions were tested in random order.

DPSI did not differ significantly between braced and unbraced (control) conditions. This finding is consistent with those of a 2006 Journal of Athletic Training study from the University of Florida, which found that neither a lace-up brace nor a semirigid brace significantly affected DPSI in 28 subjects with functional ankle instability. The 2006 study did find that both braces improved postural stability in the vertical direction specifically, suggesting that ankle braces may play a role in attenuating vertical forces during jump landings even if they do not directly affect dynamic postural stability.

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