Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 12, pp 2775–2784 | Cite as

Ankle Bracing is Effective for Primary and Secondary Prevention of Acute Ankle Injuries in Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses

  • Ingrid BareldsEmail author
  • Anke G. van den Broek
  • Bionka M. A. Huisstede
Systematic Review



Ankle bracing has been verified as being effective for secondary prevention of ankle injuries. However, new studies have recently been published that are not included in previous meta-analyses. Furthermore, the effects of bracing for primary prevention of ankle injuries are still unclear.


The objective of this article was to systematically review the literature about the effectiveness of ankle bracing on primary and secondary prevention of acute ankle injuries in athletes.


We searched PubMed, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, and PEDro databases for eligible articles until July 2018. Randomized controlled trials that studied ankle bracing vs. no intervention for athletes were included. Risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. Meta-analyses were conducted to study the effect of ankle bracing for primary and secondary prevention of ankle injuries. The Grading of Recommendation Assessment, Development, and Evaluation method was used to determine the quality of evidence.


We included six randomized controlled trials. Significant risk ratios of 0.53 (95% confidence interval 0.32–0.88) and 0.37 (95% confidence interval 0.24–0.58) were found in favor of ankle bracing vs. no ankle bracing for primary (low quality of evidence, I2 = 77%) and secondary prevention (moderate quality of evidence, I2 = 0%) of acute ankle injuries. Numbers needed to treat were 26 and 12 for the primary and secondary prevention of acute ankle injuries.


Ankle bracing is effective for primary and secondary prevention of acute ankle injuries among athletes. However, conclusions in regard to primary prevention should be drawn cautiously because of the low quality of evidence and significant heterogeneity.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Ingrid Barelds, Anke van den Broek, and Bionka Huisstede have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the contents of this article.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Supplementary material

40279_2018_993_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physical Therapy Science, Program in Clinical Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Research Group Healthy Ageing, Allied Health Care and NursingHanze University Groningen, University of Applied SciencesGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neurosciences, Department of Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy Science and SportsUniversity Medical Center Utrecht, University UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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