Benjamin Paquette1, Samuel J. Wilson1, Cameron Powden2, Robert Reyburn3, Diego Castro-Diaz1, Barry A. Munkasy1, Jessica A. Mutchler1. 1Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA. 2University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN. 3Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC.

BACKGROUND: Prophylactic ankle bracing is a common practice in athletic populations to prevent or lower the risk of ankle injuries. The initial perceived effects of introducing a prophylactic semi-rigid ankle brace to individuals without previous or current injury has not been well explored. The purpose of this study was to determine if individuals with no history of wearing ankle braces or ankle injury would report a difference in perceived exertion and/or comfort when completing a 15-minute run with and without braces. METHODS: Nine physically active individuals (age 23.11±3 y) completed two sessions of a 15-minute treadmill run at a self-selected pace, one in ankle braces and one without. Sessions were one week a part on the same day of the week and time of day with no exercise permitted 24hrs prior to testing. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded every five minutes using the BORG scale. A likert-like questionnaire assessing perceived ankle comfort, stability, confidence, tiredness, and satisfaction with performance was completed at the end of each session. Scores ranged from “1” indicating strongly agree to “7” indicating strongly disagree. Significant differences in RPE between conditions over time was determined using a repeated measures ANOVA. Differences in questionnaire scores were determined using paired-samples t-tests. RESULTS: A main effect for time confirmed the participants increased their exertion over the length of the protocol (RPE5 9.17±1.79, RPE10 11.17±1.70, RPE15 12.28±1.99, p<.001). No main effect for condition (p=.843) or interaction between condition and time for RPE measures (p=.711) were observed. Statistically significant differences were observed in perceived comfort (ComfortBrace 2.78±1.99, ComfortNoBrace 1.22±.44, p=.049) between brace and no-brace conditions. No other statistically significant differences were observed (p>.05). CONCLUSION: The results suggest introducing semi-rigid ankle braces for prophylactic purposes may result in less perceived ankle comfort but may not affect perceived exertion when running immediately after being fitted for the braces. It may be beneficial for future research to investigate if prophylactic ankle bracing with a semi-rigid brace causes changes to lower extremity kinematics and muscle excitation when running and performing other athletic tasks.

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