The differential effects of external ankle support on postural control

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1994 Dec;20(6):287-95. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1994.20.6.287.


Ankle supports are commonly used in an attempt to decrease the risk of ankle injury during sport. However, their use may also impair postural control, which is an integral component of sports participation. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of three different ankle supports (tape, brace, and elastic bandage) on postural control in 24 normal subjects with a mean age of 24.8 years (+/- 4.4). Two measures were used to evaluate postural control in one-legged stance with the eyes closed: variability of mediolateral ground reaction force (acquired from a force platform) and frequency of foot touchdowns by the nonsupport leg (assumed to indicate ability of the subject to maintain one-legged stance posture). Both measures revealed a differential effect for ankle support on postural control. The use of an elastic bandage had no significant effect on postural control (p > 0.05), while the use of tape or a brace had a significant detrimental effect (p < 0.05). While wearing the tape or a brace, subjects were less steady and touched down more frequently. Restriction of ankle movement was offered as a possible explanation for the results, since postural control was impaired only by the ankle supports which limited ankle motion. These findings may have implications regarding impaired athletic performance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Bandages*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Braces* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Posture*