What are athletic bandages and braces?
For many athletes, amateur or professional alike, the idea of a muscle sprain or aching joint slowing down their routines is a non-starter, so finding ways to work around the injury and maintain their physical activity level is a must. As such, countless athletic bandages, braces, tape and other devices have been developed to allow active individuals to treat immediate injuries without compromising their physical fitness goals.
How do athletic bandages and braces treat injuries?
Many doctors recommend the "RICE" approach in treating injuries, which refers to Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Athletic bandages and braces fit seamlessly into this approach by first stabilizing the affected area to prevent further strain, and providing compression therapy to prevent inflammation by compressing and supporting underlying tissue. Here's how the technique works:
- Rest: Athletic bandages and braces can immobilize joints and sore muscles when performing day-to-day activities, but periods of rest should also be incorporated to promote recovery.
- Ice: Ice packs (which are also FSA/HSA/HRA eligible) are a proven method in reducing inflammation and pain that arise after sprains or muscle pulls, and it should be applied continuously for 3-4 days after the injury occurs.
- Compression: Athletic bandages and braces also provide a degree of compression therapy to aid in the reduction of swelling and bruising by improving blood flow. These recovery aids should be worn for 1-2 weeks after the injury occurs to prevent further injury and to speed recovery times.
- Elevation: In the immediate aftermath of an injury, make an effort to elevate the affected area above heart level for at least 2 to 3 hours each day. This will help reduce swelling and bruising over time.
Examples of athletic bandages and braces
Some of the most common athletic bandages and braces on the market can treat a wide range of muscle, joint and soft tissue injuries. These include:
- Kinesiology Tape: This elastic tape is designed to treat musculoskeletal or sports injuries by limiting an individual's range of motion and constrict muscle movement to promote a speedy recovery.
- Abdominal Supports & Rib Belts: Abdominal supports can be used to provide back support, relief from hernias and stabilization for the lumbar area. Rib belts are used to help individuals recover from rib fractures and prevent re-injury.
- Orthopedic & Surgical Support: Arm slings, neck collars, back supports and much more are designed to immobilize and prevent re-injury as a result of an immediate injury or to recover from a recent surgery.
- Elastic Bandages & Athletic Treatments: ACE Bandages, self-adhesive bandages and other products provide compression therapy to treat sprains, strains and general soreness that result from physical activity.
- Knee/Ankle/Wrist Braces: These braces are the primary means of treating ankle sprains, soft tissue injuries and ligament tears that result from accidents, sports injuries and other forms of overexertion. Immobilizing the affected area is the primary means of rehabilitating and decreasing recovery time from injuries.