Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Equipment: Jeff's ankle brace review

My name is Jeff. I'm 31 years old. I look like I'm 16. I have the ankles of an 80-year-old.

My ankles have been brittle for as long as I can remember. I started rolling and spraining them as a teenager, and experienced a series of horrific injuries in my twenties. In 2003, I had a really bad one that put me on crutches for six weeks and kept me off the court for months. My doctor made me get an MRI. When we looked at it, he pointed out that one of the ligaments in my ankle had been completely torn away. My poor ligament won't ever grow back, and at some point, I will have to have surgery.

I had to start wearing ankle braces to play basketball about eight years ago. Over time, I've experimented with a few different styles and brands, and I will share my thoughts here.

1. Ace bandage. This is what the doctor/trainer wraps your ankle in immediately after a minor injury. It provides minimal support and will not prevent most ankle rolls. Don't try playing in this.

2. Standard neoprene ankle brace. If you have a very minor injury, this could do. However, for someone with ankles as bad as mine, this might as well be wax paper. When my ankles see one of these, they laugh and laugh.

3. Aircast. This is a serious piece of equipment, but it's not really for playing in. It's for walking around while your ankle is healing. If you try to play in one of these, your ankle will be protected from injury, but you will only be able to run at half speed, and turning will not really be an option. It should be called "The Mutombo."

4. Basic lace-up ankle brace. This is a good, affordable option. The brace has laces in the front, which can be tightened and loosened as needed, and there is usually some sort of lightweight wiring embedded in the side for additional support. It takes a while to get used to wearing this type of brace, but once you are accustomed to it, it feels like an old (but smelly) friend.
Lace-ups will prevent most injuries, but not all. My ligament-shredding ankleplosion happened in one of these.

5. Lace-up brace with inserts. This is one step up from the lace-up brace, and what I currently play in. I actually remove the inserts because they are uncomfortable, but these braces are still tougher than the standard lace-ups. I've never had a serious injury in one of these. McDavid and Tru Fit are good brands.

Setshotters: Share your experiences with ankle support here. Also feel free to contribute reviews of knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist and face supports. We'll start another thread for "best steroids," so hold off on that for now.


CJB said...

man, did i break your ankles that bad with my nasty jew crossover moves and lightning quick speed? This post is just a big guilt trip!

sorry man

Cary aka the BJA Assassinator

Anonymous said...

Or was it when you fell down laughing as Cary tried that ridiculous behind-the-back pass yet again and chucked it into the first row?

CJB said...

Justin you're just salty because of the time at Houston St. I burned you with that one after I was leaving you open all game and watching you hit the side of the backboard with your jumper repeatedly. Just because it failed the next 99 times I tried it is no reason to get salty. Think about it like this, when EA puts out the Aging Baller video game, we'll each have a signature move. Mine will be the behind the back pass plus my no-jump turnaround "jump" shot.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I share similar near-constant ankle problems, and one twist was so nasty that I chipped off the tip of my tibia (or was it the fibula?), which happily was also the place where an important nerve made its way through the neighborhood so I got stingers up my legs for six weeks afterwards. Returning to the brace discussion, I have tried all of the aforementioned products, but bar none the most effective anti-ankle twisting product (something that has proven 100% effective in preventing inversion sprains in my ankles) I've ever used is the ankle support from Active Ankle. It's kind of like the air cast shells but lined with neoprene foam, and both sides are connected by a hinge that runs beneath your heal (the hinge acts in the same plane as your knee, meaning your foot can rock up or down, just not side to side). So, in effect, your own weight prevents your ankle from inverting or subverting (?) / obverting (?) / doing what Keith Bogan's ankle did against Utah three years ago in the tournament. I swear these are my ankles' best friends (and they're equally effective on the ball diamond, or even in dress shoes).

Ankle Braces said...

I like the new Hely and Weber Zap Ankle Brace.

This is the latest ankle brace on the market.

Basketball post said...

I couldn't stand looking at the X-ray photo. I was given some excellent advice, as well as information on how to not only prevent ankle sprains in the first place, but how I might have protected my now "once-sprained" ankle from being injured further or sprained again.