Ankle injuries are one of the most common in volleyball. How can your daughter prevent hers from being injured so she doesn’t miss several weeks during the season?
Here’s some tips:
When to Wear Ankle Braces
At this point, the research is conflicted on whether ankle braces help prevent injuries if your daughter’s ankles aren’t already injured.
However, research has clearly indicated ankle braces do help prevent re-injury of an ankle. Combine ankle braces with specific ankle exercises to provide the greatest support going forward.
What Type of Ankle Brace to Wear
For the most part, this doesn’t matter because most people experience lateral/inversion sprains. However, if your daughter has anterior/posterior instability, then she has a possible chance of injuring her ankle. Lace-up braces provide strong support for your ankle on all sides.
All types of braces, however, offer proprioceptive input, which helps your muscles react faster and with greater strength when they experience a strong impact.
Do Ankle Braces Ever Hurt Your Ankles?
Only wearing a poor-fitting ankle brace would impact your daughter negatively in any way. No evidence suggests braces will weaken your ankle muscles. If your daughter feels uncomfortable, she needs to practice in the ankle brace more or find one that fits more comfortably.
Ankle braces do not reduce her vertical jump. And while some claim ankle braces can contribute to knee injuries, no evidence currently supports that.
Exercises Your Daughter Can Do to Strengthen Her Ankles
Most athletes don’t do additional work to strengthen their ankles. The exercise you do doesn’t need to be sophisticated. Your daughter can start by simply standing on one leg for as long as she can. Then she could add arm exercises to the mix, or trying to balance on an unstable surface. Squats, lunges, and side leg lifts on a balance board also work to improve ankle strength.
However, some patience is required. Training can take 2-3 months before it really pays dividends.
Finally, understand that taping ankles doesn’t provide as much protection as a brace. While it works well initially, taping loosens up over time and may not even provide any real support within an hour – even if an excellent trainer did a good job of taping.
If your daughter does all those things during this volleyball season, she should be in a good place for minimizing her risk of a season-ending ankle injury.