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I sustained an ankle injury quite a few years ago while ice skating, and although I only sprained the ankle and damaged the ligaments, this is apparently worse than breaking the bone. I'm sure this makes medical sense in terms of recovery time and potential recovery level, but having broken limb bones as well as ligament damage, I'll stick with the ligaments thanks!
Having recovered from the initial pain, I was obviously not able to play sports for a while. Heavily into playing American Football, this was an issue for a while, and I probably returned to playing a lot earlier than I possibly should have done. Whether or not this is essential or even necessary, I still wear ankle braces or bracelets or supports whenever I do exercise, and I swear by them. There are varying degrees of quality, but the golden rule for me is to make sure it's protected.
This particular brace is genius on a few levels. More than just your neoprene support that you slide on to your ankle and then pull your socks on over the top, this is adjustable and gives you developmental and recuperational support as well as the initial strength addition that a general support would give you. You get the neoprene support that you pull over, with your toes revealed. This has adjustability too, with two different straps to help you decide how much movement you need, both close in on the top of your ankle and low on the calf as well. I usually find that I'll tighten it for light exercise, and have it slightly looser if I know I'll need a slight amount of give in it. What I aim for is the ability to push to the limits of whatever I need to do with the support, so if I'm only walking or jogging, then a tighter fit will support these smaller movements, whereas more strenuous exercise gives the flexibility with a lighter fit in order to allow my ankle the freedom of movement but the support at the far reaches of the angles I need it to function at.
If it were just a support, then these tighter or looser fits wouldn't make all that much difference, but there's a further element to this, and it's perhaps the key element as well. It doesn't really affect the movement as much as hold everything together. It's essentially a cyclinder of harder plastic that clips on to your lower calf and upper ankle. The only way I can describe is as if you were shackled with ankle cuffs, they'd sit lowe on your ankle. The difference here is that the adjustable attachment on the back is designed to stay snug to your ankle and it provides so much comfortable support (and it's meant to be on there!). You also get underfoot protection as well, with a further flexible plastic element which cups your heel and provides that extra element of support. At first this bit feels uncomfortable but it doesn't take long before you stop noticing it.
I find when I'm wearing this that the psychological element of a damaged joint almost disappears as well, and I give my ankle the fuller range of movement that it probably deserves. The support is so great that my supposedly sturdier other ankle then feels inferior and not strong enough to do everything I need, and I've occasionally worn a support of some sort on that ankle too so that I feel balanced. There's no rigidity on this at all - you feel supported without feeling restricted, and the design is expertly put together to ensure that you the full benefits of wearing something like this. Had I worn this when rehabilitating, I probably would have recovered quicker and enhanced my strength sooner, allowing my naive keenness to get back onto the field its healthy timeliness.
It comes at a price though, this isn't cheap. I've seen it fluctuate in price, as low as £20 or so but also as high as £50. Mine was a present, and probably something I wouldn't have forked out for, so if you have a birthday coming up or anything like that, then this wouldn't be a bad suggestion if anyone can purchase one for you. If you get it dirty it can be a slight nuisance to clean but the neoprene element is machine washable and the harder stuff scrubs easily enough. Recommended.
Sitting in a hospital A&E department last year I was informed that my badly bruised and now swollen
to 3 times its normal size ankle wasn't broken unfortunately according to the doctor I would have
been better off if I had broken it. Instead I had torn the ligaments so badly that they had pulled
away a piece of bone which was now sitting like the missing piece of a jigsaw away from the now
jagged edge it had originally been attached to and the ligament damage would take longer to heal
than a clean break.
As I'm self employed no work means no money so I was determined to get back to work as soon
as possible. Although my physiotherapist didn't agree with the idea as my job is pretty physical
he did recommend the McDavid Ankle X Brace would be a good choice to prevent me doing more
damage but still allowing enough movement for me to carry out my job and slowly build up the
strength n my ankle.
The McDavid Ankle X Brace comes in two parts the first is a neoprene wrap that you place your
foot in then adjust to fit with 2 straps with velcro on the end to secure it in place. One strap fastens around your ankle and the other just under your calf. Thankfully due to the area around your ankle
being open until you fasten the straps you don't have to pull the support over your injury like you do with other sports supports I've tried in the past which leave you in agony before you even get them
on. The neoprene part has a padded circle on either side where your ankle bones are for added
protection and even on its own feels very supportive, provides compression to the injury and is comfortable to wear without being too bulky.
The second part is the brace itself which is worn over the neoprene support. This upper part of the
brace consists of 2 sturdy solid plastic parts which reach from your ankle bone to just under your
calf on either side of your leg and are attached by a cuff with a pivot point at the back of your leg
and fastened with a wide velcro strap at the front. The upper part is attached by pivot points at the
ankle joints to the thinner flexible plastic baseplate which sits under your foot. Due to the fact the
brace is pivoted it allows your ankle to move naturally in an up and down motion but prevents it from rolling sideways which is the cause of ankle sprains and ligament damage. The brace measures
7 inches from the bottom of the foot plate to the top of the brace and the foot plate measures 4.1
inches from the heel to the front.
I was initially worried that this would be uncomfortable to wear due to the plastic base plate that
fits under your foot and reaches from your heel to under the arch of your foot. Thankfully this
wasn't a problem as the foot plate is thin and flexible and the neoprene support provides enough
padding that you don't even feel the plastic brace through it. After 2 days wearing the brace I
can truthfully say it is so lightweight and comfortable I hardly noticed it was there and although I
found it slightly too bulky to wear with boots there was no probem or discomfort wearing it with
any of my trainers or flat shoes.
The best thing about the McDavid Ankle X Brace is that it still allows the natural movement of your
ankle. Many of the ankle supports I've tried in the past work by holding your ankle rigidly in place
but although this might prevent injury it restricts movement which won't help regain the strength
and flexibility in the injured ankle. Neoprene supports and tube type bandages do provide support
but will still allow your ankle to roll inwards or outwards where as the McDavid X Brace allows your
ankle to move correctly to allow normal walking but the plastic brace acts as a splint to prevent
your ankle from rolling inwards or outwards.
I used the McDavid X Brace every day at work for over 3 months and still wear it regularly if I'm
running or doing any sports that might lead to an ankle injury. Due to this and previous ankle
injuries my ankle will always be prone to going over so I'd rather prevent the problem now rather
than waiting for it to happen then trying to fix it. Both parts of the brace have stood up well the
plastic brace is still in perfect condition and the neoprene part hasn't frayed or become bobbly
despite being chucked in the washing machine regularly and worn frequently.
Thanks to the McDavid X Brace I was able to go back to work after 3 weeks rather than the 6-12
weeks pedicted by my doctor and physio. Although I admit I was still in agony at least I knew that
despite the pain my ankle was well protected and I was unlikely to cause further damage. Also
because my ankle was getting used I regained the strength and flexibility quicker than if I had
sat at home with my foot up doing nothing for weeks waiting for the pain to go away. Although
this worked for me I really wouldn't recommend my plan of action unless you have absolutely no
choice,a higher degree in stupidity and an endless supply of really strong painkillers to go with it.
The McDavid X Brace costs around £50 which might seem expensive compared to a cheap sports
support but for anyone with a current ankle ligament injury or a weakness due to a previous
injury I'd say this is more than worth the initial outlay. The brace comes in 2 sizes small to medium
fits UK6-9 and large fits UK9-14 shoes sizes.