probably speak for more than myself when I say Fall is my favorite season. In addition to cooler temperatures and the beautiful changing color of the leaves, Fall means FOOTBALL! From youth to high school and collegiate to pro, thousands of athletes take to the gridiron to participate in this great American past time. Unfortunately, with the coming of Fall and football, also come injuries.

There is perhaps no other sport that places a higher demand on the body as football. While head injuries and concussions may have recently received the most attention, injuries to the lower extremity remain the most common football injury. In my twenty years of sports medicine practice and coverage of numerous high school and youth football games, injuries to the knee and ankle have by far proven to be the most prevalent and, in many cases, the most challenging conditions to manage. In addition to lost playing time for the player, these injuries pose a challenge for the healthcare practitioner working to rehabilitate the injured player and safely return them to competition.

In considering lower extremity injuries, torn ACLs (Anterior Cruciate Ligaments) and cartilage/meniscus damage that affect the knee may receive more attention due to the fact that in most cases these injuries result in surgery. However, it is the ankle sprain that is a more common problem. A sprain is the over-stretching of a ligament. Ligaments are connective tissues that connect bone to bone and are critical towards providing stability to a joint. In the case of the ankle, the lateral aspect is the most vulnerable to sprain. That said, medial sprains (primarily involving the Deltoid ligament) and high ankle sprains (involving the Syndesmotic ligaments) can also occur.

As a sports medicine clinician, my goal is to implement all the tools I have to effectively and safely return the athlete to play. In the case of a football player with an ankle sprain, bracing is a vital part of treatment. While I have and continue to tape many ankles, a quality ankle brace that can be easily donned by the player is typically included in all of my return to sport plans for injured ankles. Particular attention needs to be paid to the Subtalar joint given it is the joint in which inversion (the most vulnerable position for ankle sprains) and eversion occurs. Therefore, an effective sports ankle brace needs to incorporate design features to provide stability to this aspect of the ankle.

The DeRoyal® Element® Sport Ankle Brace with the Boa® Closure System is an excellent selection for ankle sprains and other foot & ankle related injuries. First of all, it is easy to don & doff and fits comfortably in a shoe/cleat. A brace is of no use if the player will not wear it due to poor fit or difficulty in applying it. Clinically, it provides sound Subtalar stability through its heel control strapping system and rigid medial and lateral uprights. This mimics components of a sound taping job of the ankle and protects against the all too common lateral ankle sprain. Lastly, the Boa® Closure System is unique and allows the athlete to easily adjust for a secure fit. This provides added compression to increase proprioception and comfort.

So, enjoy Fall, football, and throw a few of these braces in your training bag!

Boa® is a registered trademark of Boa Technology, Inc.


John D. Staley, III, PT, CSCS

John is a licensed Physical Therapist (PT) and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). His primary areas of practice include orthopedics and sports medicine. He is a Credentialed Clinical Instructor through the American Physical Therapy Association.

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