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Athletes turn to bracing to prevent injuries

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I’m an avid baseball player, volleyball player and skier so I completely understand the frustration athletes experience when they are sidelined by an injury. As the owner of a sports orthotics and bracing clinic in White Rock, BC I am fortunate to be able to combine my passion for pedorthics with my love of sports. Each day I help competitive and non-competitive athletes and active people get back to doing what they love.

I commonly use bracing to treat my patients and I am increasingly recommending bracing as a preventative measure for certain sports where chronic injuries occur. There are many different braces available for athletes and active people. Some bracing is so specific to performance it is made out of fibre glass, carbon fibre, and Kevlar to keep its weight down so performance can stay high.

We get questions from people concerned that bracing will weaken their muscle development, however this concern is unwarranted in most cases. Preventative bracing limits the extreme range of motion which causes injury, instead of facilitating normal movement. It does not stop the muscles from working. In fact, bracing can actually help muscle development by preventing long stretches of inactivity that comes with inversion ankle sprains or knee ligament tears.

I recently worked with a former world champion gymnast and Cirque du Soleil performer who tore his ACL (one of the major ligaments in his knee) one week before he was scheduled to complete a high-paying one day job with the USA ski team. The job required this athlete to do high skill acrobatics on a trampoline. His sports medicine physician referred him to me for a caged knee brace so he could complete the job as planned. Although I had to work very hard to get a high strength, low weight brace that wouldn’t limit his tricks in a very tight timeline, I managed to get the brace he required. With it he was able to take advantage of the employment opportunity he wanted and he was extremely grateful.

More and more athletes, particularly college level volleyball(ankle) and football(knee) players are using bracing for injury prevention rather than treatment. In some cases the college program requires preventative bracing. Whether for yourself, your child, or your athlete/player, think about the most common injury for your sport and consider if there is a brace that can be used to prevent that common injury. If you are unsure if you should be wearing that brace, consult your local pedorthist or physiotherapist.

By Matt Deeter, C. Ped (C), White Rock, BC

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