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BACKGROUND: Balance is important for both athletic performance and quality of life. There is a direct, positive relationship between balance ability and athletic performance in activities such as dance and gymnastics. Equally important, there is an inverse relationship between balance and risk of falls and fall-related injuries. Although many variables affect balance, there has been recent interest in the utilization of external support strategies, such as elastic taping and braces. One particular strategy – a figure eight elastic band arch support that wraps around the foot and ankle – is specifically marketed for improving balance. However, there has been no research determining the efficacy of this band. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to test the effects of this category of elastic bands on balance. METHODS: Nineteen adult volunteers (five male and fourteen female; stature = 168.710 ± 11.401cm; mass = 68.279 ± 12.040 kg, and age = 21.632 ± 2.500 yr) completed one-foot static and dynamic postural stability tests and two-foot limits of stability (LOS) balance tests on an instrumented dynamic balance instrument. In a random and repeated measures design, trials were completed barefoot with elastic band arch supports (experimental, or BAND) and without elastic band supports (control, or CONT). For one-foot static tests, the balance platform was held stationary, the participant was instructed to stand as stationary as possible, and variability of center of pressure information provided an overall stability index (OSI). For one-foot dynamic tests, the balance platform was allowed to tilt in all directions (dynamic setting), again yielding an OSI value. The LOS tests (performed two-footed) required participants to stand on a dynamic platform and purposefully manipulate their center of pressure to computer-generated targets. Performance on the LOS test was quantified by an overall direction control (ODC) value. Paired t-tests, comparing experimental to control, were used for analysis. RESULTS: For single leg static postural stability tests, there was no difference in OSI (p = 0.828) between the CONT (1.091 ± 0.189) and BAND condition (1.098 ± 0.253). Similarly, there was no difference in OSI (p = 0.434) between the CONT (1.281 ± 0.397) and BAND (1.259 ± 0.366) for single leg dynamic postural stability tests. However, LOS testing showed a difference in ODC (p = 6.17E-05) between CONT (47.918 ± 12.586) and BAND (51.556 ± 13.465) with the BAND condition scoring higher on overall direction control (ODC). CONCLUSION: Although elastic band arch support did not improve balance when measuring either static or dynamic one-leg balance, it did improve balance in the challenging LOS assessment. Thus, It is possible that elastic band arch supports are beneficial for improving balance in the short term if the balancing task is sufficiently challenging. Future studies should investigate the long-term effects of these bands and differences between foot types.

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