Nearly 25,000 people sprain their ankles each day, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sprains occur when ligaments holding the bones and ankle joint in place are stretched beyond their normal limitations. Awkward landings and unstable movements are common causes for rolling and twisting these ligaments. Muay Thai kickboxing involves both of these risk factors; however, several ankle wrap support options are available to provide increased injury protection.
Elastic ankle wrap supports are designed to compress and stabilize the joint while keeping the surrounding ligaments warm and flexible. Elastic material tends to breathe better and gathers less sweat than other materials. The basic function of all support sleeves is essentially the same. Whichever brand you select, consider the size of the heel opening, since too small an opening will cut off circulation and cause cramps, while too large an opening will feel loose and unstable.
Neoprene ankle wrap supports are very similar to elastic ankle wrap supports; however, neoprene tends to be less flexible and gathers more sweat than elastic, which could cause slipping and discomfort. Recent technological advances have resulted in neoprene ankle wraps that are now antimicrobial and less rigid. Some also have rubber foot grips woven into the material to provide increased traction.
Many Muay Thai Kickboxing traditionalists prefer to use athletic tape instead of a sleeve to support the ankle. The benefit of athletic tape is that it can be layered on for extra protection and support. Tape is also more likely to stay secured around the ankle. On the other hand, tape that is applied too tightly will cut off circulation, limiting range of motion and flexibility. Athletic tape will also take longer to apply and will not provide the same grip and traction as a high-end ankle wrap support.
Sleeves and athletic tape each have pros and cons, so ankle wrap support preferences vary from fighter to fighter. The general consensus is that each of these options is better than none at all, since ankle wrap support of any kind will reduce your risk of injury. The best ankle wrap support for Muay Thai Kickboxing is completely up to the individual athlete, who can determine what is best for him.
- Chris Noonan, Muay Thai Kickboxing Instructor; LA Boxing; Shrewsbury, New Jersey
- Greg Looney, CSR; Title Boxing; Lenexa, Kansas
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Sprained Ankle