Trainer’s Corner: Ankle Sprains- 3 Part Series

Part 1- Preventing Ankle Sprains, taping versus braces.
Also in this article: Ask Georgia

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in sports, especially basketball. Depending upon the severity, an athlete could miss several days or weeks due to an ankle sprain. It is quite possible that on a basketball team of 10 to 12 athletes, three or four ankle sprains could occur over the course of a season. While many athletes try to play through such injuries, quite often there will be missed time due to an ankle sprain.

Many athletes wear ankle braces or get their ankles taped by the coach or athletic trainer. Which is better? There are a few factors to consider when examining the differences between braces or tape. The most relevant factor to most young athletes is the availability of taping supplies and someone to properly apply the tape. Incorrectly applied tape may cause blisters and pain. The cost of taping supplies is a deterrent for many smaller schools or teams with a budget. It costs about ten times more for taping supplies than it costs for one pair of average priced ankle braces.

Ankle braces can be easy to use if they fit properly. The most popular type of brace for basketball is a lace up brace which may have Velcro straps that add to its stability. Each brand and style has sizing instructions that should be examined for a proper fit. If the brace becomes loose during practice simply tighten the laces.

Ankle taping is more common in the college and professional settings. For these athletes, it becomes a matter of preference. Some athletes just prefer the feel of tape and want less bulk in their shoe.

The best way to prevent ankle sprains is to wear proper basketball shoes, work on simple stretches and exercises to increase the strength and balance in the ankle. If the athlete has a prior ankle sprain injury, it is very beneficial to use a supportive aid such as a brace or athletic tape.

Coming soon:
Part 2 First aid for ankle sprains.
Part 3 Rehabilitation exercises for ankle sprains

"Ask Georgia"
Sun Head Athletic Trainer, Georgia Fischer, will be taking questions from you during the off-season. Send your questions in to
Here are some questions that Georgia recieved recently:

Q: I have a 12 y/o and 14 y/o that both play basketball for their schools. They are presently having 6 practices a week. My question is: Is this a little excessive? I say this because they are both complaining of leg pain at night. If not what do you suggest for the leg pain. It's mostly muscle pain. I usually give advil and my daughter says it helps.

Six practices a week may be excessive for your daughters if they are having pain. It all depends on what type of training they are used to. If they were not active before the season started then going from nothing to 6 practices a week would be a strain. The Advil and rest is helpful for the muscle pains. If the soreness does not ease up after a few weeks of practice then you may want to talk to the coach and to create a modified practice schedule for them.

Q: Hi, my name is Amber. I'm 16 years old and I play sports year-round. I play basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, and I powerlift. During our basketball season I compete in powerlifting, is it true that during the season you should not lift because it will throw off your shot? And I just resently injured my left elbow and last year I tore 3 ligaments in left ankle, what are some good things to do before and after practices?

Hi Amber,
It is a valid point that certain activities could "throw off your shot". If you were to concentrate all of your efforts on basketball then it may be worth decreasing your powerlifting activities. However, because you are so active in many sports I would encourage you to do what you feel is best for yourself. Active warm-up and stretching exercises such as toe and heel walking are beneficial before practice. Applying ice after practice to your ankle or elbow would be helpful if they are sore. Stay tuned to the Connecticut Sun Web Site where I will post a series of articles this month on ankle injuries.