Inside Insights For Tackling Football Injuries

By Mark A. Caselli, DPM

Taping And Bracing: Are They Effective In Reducing The Risk Of Ankle Sprains?

   The frequency of ankle sprains in football has prompted many attempts to prevent such injuries with some form of stabilization. The most commonly used method is ankle taping although the cost of this technique in terms of materials and time has led to the use of reusable strapping or braces as an alternative.    Studies of these techniques have attempted to determine if they actually restrict excessive ankle motion and if they reduce the risk of injury. While studies found taping did indeed restrict ankle inversion-plantar motion, the researchers also found that 10 minutes of exercise reduced the net support strength of the taping by 40 percent.    Studies to measure restriction of motion associated with an inversion ankle sprain both before and after 15 minutes of zigzag running found that taping did restrict these motions an average of 27 percent compared to the untaped control. While taping appears to have the potential to protect athletes from inversion sprains, the effectiveness of taping decreases during prolonged use.    Further studies have shown that braces can offer similar resistance to inversion but with the additional advantages of reusability and adjustability during competition. Although athletes and coaches are sometimes concerned that using such devices may reduce performance, a study found such reductions were only 4 percent or less on several performance tests. Researchers also determined that among athletes with a history of prior ankle injury, a combination of ankle bracing and coordination training on an ankle disc could greatly reduce the incidence of re-injury. Among athletes with no history of ankle injury, neither a brace nor coordination training appears to reduce the risk of injury.    Midfoot sprains are much less common than ankle sprains. While these injuries can be misdiagnosed as ankle sprains, a thorough physical examination can usually differentiate between the two. Players with lateral tenderness return to play sooner than those with medial or global tenderness, which tends to sideline the player for extended periods of time.

Achilles Tendon Injuries: What You Should Know

   Probably the most common injury that has plagued many a quarterback is an overuse injury to the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon ruptures can be caused by the repetition of dropping back to throw the football. A quarterback may throw the football up to 50 times in a game and a few hundred times during practice.    This repetition of dropping back, decelerating and planting the right foot for a right-handed quarterback can lead to Achilles tendinitis that can cause gradual degeneration of the tendon. The tendinitis weakens the tendon and makes it susceptible to tearing. The tendon can also tear from the trauma of a one-time violent deceleration and planting motion without any previous problems with the tendon.    Diagnosing an Achilles tendon rupture is fairly easy with the Thompson test. In many cases, one can use palpation to detect a defect in the tendon. Surgery is usually the treatment of choice for Achilles ruptures among athletes.

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