A brace is an orthopaedical appliance or gear used to support the weight of the body, to correct or prevent any abnormalities or control spontaneous movements particularly at the trunk and lower limbs.
- It also provides heat and compression to the bones.
- It is made from mostly nylon a rigid fabric and polychloroprene (synthetic rubbers) so as to limit mobilization of the limb and conform the joints.
- In severe cases the brace is incorporated with metallic plates to increase immobilization of the joint.
- In sports it is mostly used to reduce stress at the inflammations of the joint or weak muscles, among others.
A tape is a commonly used way to support to support a joint, particularly the ankle joint. The main aim of taping the joint is to minimize the risk of re-injury and also to avoid another sprain of the joint.
- Taping gives the joint mechanical sustenance; it keeps the joints from stirring too far in any one direction.
- It also improves the sense of where the joint is at any given time. This is referred to as proprioception.
- The joint is also allowed to feel any given change in the slope or surface.
- It makes the joint to stay balanced and steady while in walking or running.
- Some athletes use taping as placebo; it means it does not have any effect but the person using the tape things it does thus increasing confidence of the athlete.
- Taping is a better chiropractic in terms of relieving pain and reducing swelling.
There has been a great deal of scientific research performed trying to find ways to reduce the risk of getting a sprain or recurrent sprains. Both taping and bracing minimize the occurrence of a first-time sprain by 30 percent and 70 percent of getting a recurrent sprain.
Coming to a cost-benefit analysis, tapes are significantly cost friendly, however braces give a better bang for buck in the long run.
In terms of proprioception the effect of tape and braces have shown mixed results. Most researchers found there was little or no change in muscle function with either the use of tapes or braces.
The choice of using either brace or its chiropractic depends on many factors like comfort, footwear, skin sensitivity, the fit of your sport, cost effectiveness and many more. Most athletes find taping more effective and more comfortable since it improves the sense of the joint.
Advantages of taping:
- It is effective.
- In general, it is comfortable if use is in short term.
- It is costly friendly if use is in short term.
- No extra bulk.
- It is comfortable even in tight shoes.
Advantages of bracing:
- It is relatively cheaper if use is long term.
- No aid is required to apply.
- It is easy to tighten or loosen when needed.
- It has less skin irritation.
- One does not need to shave when in use.
Both bracing and taping should be done under the guidance of a physician.
You should either use taping or bracing since neither is better than the other.