If you watch sports often, you’ve probably seen athletes wear sports braces on their knees, elbows or ankles. But what exactly are they? Why do athletes wear them? And should you also wear them? If you’ve asked yourself these questions, here’s what you need to know about wearing braces while playing sports.
What are Sports Braces for?
Sports braces are supportive devices athletes wear to stabilise the joints and keep them moving naturally. Here are some common reasons why athletes wear them:
Sports braces help to protect joints from injuries during contact sports like rugby, football, and ice hockey. They also help to prevent past injuries from recurring by protecting previously injured joints.
Besides preventing injuries, braces are also used to treat injuries. In conjunction with medication and physiotherapy, they help speed up the healing process by supporting injured joints and reducing inflammation.
Some athletes experience chronic pain due to past injuries. These athletes wear sports braces to alleviate the pain.
What are the Three Types of Sports Braces?
Athletes wear different braces for different purposes. Here are the three types of sports braces commonly worn by athletes:
These braces are worn to prevent injuries. They are often worn on body parts prone to injuries during sports, such as the knees and ankles. They are also worn to prevent pre-existing injuries from recurring. For instance, NBA basketball star Steph Curry wears a prophylactic ankle brace to minimise ankle injuries. Studies have shown that ankle braces can reduce ankle sprains by 69%.
These braces are worn to support injured joints. They are often worn by athletes with severe knee injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
After injuries, athletes often need to limit joint motion to speed up the healing process. Rehabilitative braces are worn to limit the range of motion of injured joints.
Do Sport Knee Braces Work?
Sport knee braces help to prevent and treat injuries and alleviate pain. They are particularly effective at preventing pre-existing injuries from recurring.
According to a study, knee braces significantly reduced reinjury among athletes who resumed sports after recovering from knee injuries. For instance, after NFL superstar Tom Brady tore an ACL in his left knee, he began to wear a sports knee brace during games to protect his knee. He wears a DonJoy Defiance III — one of the best knee braces for sports.
Are Braces Allowed in Soccer?
Braces are allowed in soccer. However, hinged knee braces with metal components may be forbidden by some referees. Therefore, players are advised to wear braces with padding to conceal the metal parts.
Takeaway on Sports Braces
Athletes wear sports braces to prevent injuries, accelerate healing, and minimise pain. However, braces aren’t a substitute for medicine or physical therapy. Instead, they are supposed to complement other treatments. Consult your doctor or physiotherapist if you want to wear a sports brace.