During basketball season there is not a day that goes by where I don’t get a Google Alert about some NBA, WNBA or NCAA star basketball player that is out because of an ankle injury.

This season one NBA superstar has been out three times due to a reoccurring ankle injury to the same ankle. Despite years of chronic ankle instability, and many minutes of playing time lost, will this superstar wear an ankle brace when he returns? Probably not … but why is that? Here is an elite athlete that makes millions from his spectacular play that is now becoming undependable and unreliable due to a reoccurring ankle injury that (in my opinion) could be fixed with an effective and functional ankle brace.

When I talk about ankle braces that can help fix chronic ankle instability issues I am specifically talking about semi-rigid hinged ankle braces. These are the types of functional ankle braces that can effectively support the ankle joint over extended periods of time. These differ from lace-up style ankle braces that offer the least amount of ankle support and are not effective enough to offer extended joint support.

As all athletic trainers know – it’s not only the basketball superstars that sustain an ankle injury and refuse to wear ankle protection. Regardless of the athlete’s skill level or ankle strength, injuries are still inevitable due to the environmental factors like jumping and cutting that are an integral part of the game.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States, with an estimated 1 million high school interscholastic participants. Ankle injuries are the most common musculoskeletal injury sustained in sports such as basketball that require sudden stops and cutting movements,,,,, and these injuries impose severe monetary consequences on the US health care system., Ankle injuries can affect athletes long after they are finished playing competitive high school sports, with the development of chronic ankle instability, increased likelihood for the onset of osteoarthritis,, decreased levels of physical activity, and lower quality of life.,

Reports state that up to 70% of high school varsity basketball athletes have suffered an ankle sprain in their career, yet the number of players who wear ankle braces, either preventatively or post-injury, is still low. But why?

Here are some excuses that I’ve heard over the years from basketball players as to why, even with chronic ankle instability, they refuse to wear an ankle brace. I’ve also included some way we as athletic trainers can overcome these objections in order to help save athletes from themselves and keep them healthy, safe, and in the game.

Excuse #1: The Brace is Too Bulky

To a basketball player anything more than a sock is too bulky. Yes, some of the older designed semi-rigid ankle braces are bulky but that is because they were designed 20-30 years ago when technology was not as advanced as it is today. My recommendation for these athletes is to seek out newer ankle braces that were designed in the past 10 years. These braces will be using the latest research, materials and technology to be more organic in shape and fit the ankle better. 

However, it is important that the athlete understand that with sufficient ankle support to help correct his condition, and keep them in the game, some additional structural support is inevitable. You can’t have ankle support without a structured support mechanism.

At Ultra Ankle, we reduced the bulk of a “structured support mechanism” by using an advanced resin to make the shell of our ankle braces more flexible. This flexible soft shell design uses a player’s body heat to form-fit to the ankle, which helps reduce that unwanted bulky look and feel of semi-rigid plastic braces. When the flexible shell takes the shape of the joint it can control the joint as much or more than some rigid plastic ankle braces, making the extra height or bulk unnecessary.

Excuse #2: The Brace Will Restrict My Performance

Different ankle braces offer different levels of restriction. The only time this restriction is related to performance is when a brace keeps an ankle from functioning in it’s normal range of motion – in which case an ankle brace is working against your ankle and therefore inhibiting your performance. In order to protect the joint, without impacting performance, an ankle brace should only restrict excessive inversion, eversion and rotation.

With a hinged ankle brace there should be no restriction of performance because the brace allows full plantar and dorsiflexion. Yes, some excessive lateral mobility might be limited due to the support necessary to stabilize the ankle and help prevent reinjury. In this case, it’s important to sell the athlete on the fact that the hinged ankle brace offers them unlimited ankle ROM to run and jump without restriction while still protecting their ankle.

The only style of ankle brace that is known to negatively effect performance is the lace-up ankle brace because if you bind up a joint it’s going to have a negative effect on ROM and strength. As shown in a study conducted by the University of South Alabama, “wearing a lace-up ankle brace negatively affects ankle joint motion and muscle function by significantly decreasing plantar flexion-dorsiflexion ROM across the velocity spectrum and by significantly decreasing muscle torque, work, and power.”

Excuse #3: The Ankle Brace is Uncomfortable

Of all the excuses I hear from basketball players, this can be a legitimate negative to wearing a semi-rigid hinged ankle brace. Mainly because some of the designs that are still being worn by athletes are old and outdated. Researching newer ankle bracing technologies and advanced designs should help alleviate some of the discomfort they are experiencing.

If an athlete still feels that ankle braces are uncomfortable, regardless of how new the technology is, it’s important for them to remember that, just like their basketball shoes, ankle braces will have a break in period to adjust to the ankle. A hinged ankle brace will feel tremendously different after 30 minutes of usage compared to when you first apply the brace because it needs to find its axis with the ankle joint to achieve ultimate comfort.

The worst thing you can do with any hinged brace, knee or ankle, is judge its comfort level when first applied. Nine times out of ten this is when the athlete refuses to wear the brace – not knowing the brace will feel significantly different if they would just give it 20-30 minutes to heat up and become aligned with the ankle. Typically, this is where the athletic trainer must step in and explain the break-in period that is necessary with any new peace of athletic gear. This, along with the features of the technology and why it is more beneficial for them to prevent additional injuries instead of getting re-injured and sitting on the sidelines, is helpful in increasing athlete compliance.

As mentioned early in this blog, with todays technology and design software we can develop ankle braces that are not only less bulky, but more comfortable as well. Elite ankle braces are designed to be more organic in shape, resembling the anatomy of the ankle. We can design some areas to be more flexible to form around the malleolus, and other areas to be more rigid to provide the necessary support.

When evaluating different ankle brace designs, seek out a brace that looks like the ankle looks and functions like the ankle functions. With this type of ankle brace, and the suggestions I provided in this blog, your basketball players may be more willing to wear a hinged ankle brace which will in turn provide them the support they need to safely stay in the game.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

If you were like me as an undergrad, then you remember having different preceptors show you how they like to do things in the clinic such as types of treatments, tapings, or bracings. No doubt most of what you learned as a student has stuck with you in your own practice as a now certified athletic trainer. The only problem is how do we know that what we are doing in the clinic is actually the best method of treatment/care?

You could argue that you have gotten great results in the past, and while that is probably true, how do you know that there isn’t something out there that works even better and would give you better results? I had this discussion with myself one day and I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t fall into a routine and not change how I practice for the next 30+ years of my career. I believe being in the medical profession we need to be willing to change with the new developments that come about. We owe that to our athletes and patients to ensure they are getting the absolute best care possible. If you feel like you might be stuck using the same techniques/methods that you were taught in undergrad, it could be time to shake up your routine and reevaluate what you were taught as a student athletic trainer.

New Advances in Equipment and Technology

The technology and equipment that are available now may have not been available yet to the preceptors that taught us in school. Technology and equipment are ever changing and improving. Because of this, we as athletic trainers need to be constantly aware as to what is available to us so we can use the best equipment and technology in our practice for our athletes. We owe them the best quality of care we can provide.

Better Understanding of How the Body Works

Due to the advances in technology, we also now have a better understanding of how the body works and what actually helps it versus what we used to think worked the best. Some of the things we have learned about the body actually show us that some of the treatments we thought were helping were actually a hindrance to the body.

An example would be lace up ankle braces. The original thinking was that the compression and support provided worked like taping, and while that is true, neither the tape or lace up braces are the best option for the ankle. It limits the natural range of motion of the ankle which in turn limits the athlete’s ability to fully perform. Both these options also loosen up within about a half hour (or less) of activity and they lose their support that prevents lateral (inversion and eversion) movements. This is why looking at hinged braces for your athletes is a better option for support of their ankles.

Learn Outside of Your Mentors

A lot of clinical practice has been passed down from mentor to mentee. This doesn’t always mean it’s the best practice; it’s just what we are used to. Our mentors might not have been exposed to better practice. This is not a knock on our mentors – I was blessed with some of the best mentors I could imagine but due to region and resources some mentors might not be aware of what new practices and technologies are out there.

New Advancements May Lead to Better Results

What’s the harm in trying something new if it could potentially have a better result than what you are currently doing? There is only one way to find out if something new out there is worth implementing into your practice and that’s by actually trying it out. If it doesn’t work as well as what you currently do then switch back to original practice or equipment.

Older Methods and TecHniques Are Still Valid

Just because a new technique or piece of equipment comes out and it’s better does not make previous technique or equipment invalid or wrong. Like all types of technology and equipment, it was the best thing and very useful for its time but now it is outdated and new discoveries bring better ways to treat injuries and conditions. I like to think of this as when flip-top, original cell phones were first invented. They were amazing and great at the time but no one today would ever dare to use one now when we have smartphones available to us. It is important to keep this in mind as a reminder that it’s okay to revise our practice and leave what we once did in the past. This is what research is for. It’s done to improve our clinical care so we are able to treat our athletes and patients in the best way possible.

When it comes to shaking up your routine as an athletic trainer, what do you do? Let me know in the comments! 

Post written by guest author Lauren Dybwad, ATC.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

What is your go-to ankle brace for acute ankle injuries? Don’t have one? It turns out you’re not alone.

When it comes to bracing acute ankle injuries, many AT’s end up using a walking boot because they are lacking a sufficient ankle brace alternative. Seeing this void in the marketplace led the ATs at Ultra Ankle to develop the first ankle brace specifically designed to treat/brace acute ankle injuries – the Ultra CTS (Custom Treatment System).

With the Ultra CTS ankle brace we address the two features needed most when bracing acute ankle injuries – maximum ankle and lower leg stabilization combined with reducing weight bearing pain. 

 

Stabilizing the Ankle and Lower Leg

Let’s say your basketball player comes down from a rebound and lands on another player’s foot, potentially resulting in a grade two ankle sprain. Or your starting tackle gets his ankle rolled up on and now you’re treating his syndesmotic ankle injury. A typical plan of action is to put the player in a walking boot for a day or two to calm things down…but then what?

First things first, you must address the stability issue before the athlete can transition out of the walking boot.

The Ultra CTS has a dual hinged-cuff design that is taller than other braces to compress and stabilize the tibia and fibula. This upper cuff section is made of a flexible soft-shell material (Performathane) which allows the brace to securely encircle the lower leg and ankle providing maximum stability. Our proprietary Performathane® material is made of the highest quality thermoplastic resin – which means it is able to absorb the body heat of the athlete during activity to help it create a form-fitting, secure fit.

When it comes to recovering from an injury, the longer the athlete is in the walking boot the more their ankle strength and ROM are negatively impacted. For this reason, it’s important to have the Ultra CTS® acute injury ankle brace as a part of your transition protocol. With this ankle brace, athletes are able to transition back to activity much sooner and safer than if they went straight from a walking boot to no brace or a lace-up support.

Now, how do you address the weight bearing pain?

Reducing Weight Bearing Pain

The second unique feature of the Ultra CTS design is the ability to unload the ankle to reduce weight bearing pain. We designed the foot section of the Ultra CTS using a semi-rigid material that will absorb some of the impact and/or energy that would normally be directed into the sore and injured ankle. With this foot section in place, the energy bypasses the ankle and is applied to the lower leg. This reduces the impact to the sore ankle (resulting in the athlete feeling less pain) which means they can transition out of the walking boot to a fully functional ankle brace they can wear for the remainder of their rehabilitation.

At this point many athletes will opt to wear the Ultra CTS the remainder of the season because it’s comfortable and they don’t have any fear of reinjury. However, if the athlete would prefer a more mobile ankle brace, they can quickly detach the upper PerformaFit® upper cuff section to transition into a low-profile activity brace. Either way, you now have options when bracing and treating acute ankle injuries that will safely get your athletes back to full participation faster.

Treat In-Game Ankle Injuries

Aside from being an important part of your treatment and rehab protocol, the Ultra CTS is also widely used by collegiate and pro athletic trainers to treat in-game ankle injuries.

After an athlete suffers an in-game ankle injury, most of the time the only thing preventing them from returning to the game is their weight bearing pain. Tape and lace-ups cannot unload the ankle and reduce weight bearing pain – but the Ultra CTS can. Athletic trainers, especially in football, are consistently utilizing the Ultra CTS on in-game ankle injuries (when appropriate) to allow the player to return to competition during the same game.

Are you one of the many athletic trainers prepared for acute and/or in-game ankle injuries by having an Ultra CTS in your kit? If not, let us know what it would take to get you to try it out by sending us an email at support@ultraankle.com or leaving us a note in the comments below.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

As an AT I work a lot of tournaments where I hear “Why am I injuring my ankle even though I wear an ankle brace?”  As all AT’s know, braces are designed to lessen the severity should an injury occur, but are you recommending the most effective ankle brace to help prevent those injuries?

Evaluating the most effective ankle brace starts with taking a look at it’s design and ability to provide long-lasting joint support. Any ankle brace can feel supportive when you first apply it, but what happens to that brace in 30 minutes? An hour? Is there any support left?  Here is a breakdown as to why some brace designs work well for long-lasting ankle support, while others fall short.

Do You Restrict Range of Motion? 

Let’s start with bracing principles of effective design. A brace that moves freely with the natural joint motion will always be more effective at providing long-lasting support compared to a brace that resists the natural range of motion of the joint. Why is this? If a brace works against (or restricts) the material movement of the joint, it will stretch out, migrate and shift causing the brace to lose support rapidly.

An example of an ankle brace that restricts normal joint ROM is the lace-up style. Lace-up ankle braces were first developed as a reusable tape job that the athlete could apply themselves. However, like a tape job, the lace-up loses a majority of its support in the first 15-20 minutes of activity. 

Do You Control Heel Movement?

As athletic trainers we were taught that if you can control heel movement, you can control the ankle. You might say “Wait, lace-ups that have a heel lock strap can control heel movement.” Which may be true for the first few minutes of activity, at which point the lace-up ankle brace begins to rapidly lose support. In theory it is true that if you can control heel movement then you can control the ankle, however it is unachievable with any ankle brace.

Do You Use Hinged Braces?

If you want to know what the most effective ankle brace design is at providing long-lasting ankle support, just take a look at the way knee braces are designed – with a hinge. When the brace is hinged and able to move with the joint, the straps stay securely in place maintaining long-lasting ankle support.  By moving with the joint, the brace is not only providing long-lasting support, but it also does not negatively affect athletic performance

Although hinged ankle braces are able to move with the joint, there are still some negatives associated with them. Because most hinged ankle braces are made with a rigid plastic, they are bulky and uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. They are also more susceptible to cracking and breaking due to material fatigue. Unlike older versions of rigid, hinged ankle braces, our low-profile Ultra Zoom ankle brace uses an advanced material called Performathane which uses body heat to form-fit to the ankle.  This new material overcomes the negatives of rigid hinged ankle braces by being form-fitting, flexible and extremely comfortable while providing the long-lasting ankle support only a hinge design can provide. 

Is Your Program Up to Date?

Maybe you’re already familiar with the best types of ankle braces for your athletes, but your program is in the habit of purchasing the same old lace-up style brace every year. As athletic trainers we usually want to try the brace out on our athletes before we commit to purchasing the product. You know that hinged ankle braces are better than lace-ups, but will your athletes wear them?

Regardless of your situation, I would love to correspond with you about your ankle bracing protocol and how Ultra Ankle can help improve the effectiveness of the ankle braces you recommend to your athletes – just send me a message.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

 

The athletic trainer is often spread thin to meet the needs of his or her employer, athletes, coaches, team physicians, athletic director, and parents. Many of us understood the trials of this profession before graduating with our bachelor’s degree, however, being our young and go-getting selves we pushed on, determined to overcome. After a few years as a certified I began to see how the stressors of being an athletic trainer could possibly not be worth their weight.

Issues such as a hectic schedule, difficulty getting time off, and troubles being respected as a healthcare professional once seemed a small “payment” for the profession I adored. Difficult coaches, know-it-all parents, and isolation compound the difficulties and seem to exponentially raise stress levels. When I put my all into an evaluation just to be questioned by a coach or come up with an extensive return-to-activity plan for a patient too lazy to complete it, returning to work the following day with enthusiasm becomes more and more challenging.

In stressful times it is all too easy to forget why I still don my khaki’s daily yet I return smiling each day. I remind myself that for each stressful event and negative comment there are multiple positive interactions and happenings that may not shine through in my mind during an emotionally cloudy day. Too easily forgotten are the times I’ve made a positive difference in a patient’s life.

There are some tactics that seem to help me meet the challenges of my position with positivity and resilience. Hopefully my stress relieving tips that I have learned over the years can come in handy for you as well. Check out the list below and let me know in the comments what your most effective way of dealing with stress as an athletic trainer is!

Stay Positive – As long as I am positive and can wear a smile my patients usually reciprocate that energy. Whether in the athletic training room or life, what you focus on determines how you feel. Look for the positive things happening around you and focus on that.  It feels much better than the alternative.

Practice Empathy – Being more empathetic to the feelings or mindsets of others can help me appreciate their stance and I can better understand how to interact with them. Seeing things through the athlete’s eyes have opened my eyes to the challenges they are dealing with and have helped me help them more effectively.

Remember Why You Started – When I remember a deep rooted reason for wanting to be an athletic trainer I write it on a list and keep the list in a planner or in the top drawer of my desk where I’ll always see it. During especially helpful times I reference this list to help me remember why it is that I come to work every day.

Record Your Accomplishments – Every time I get a card, a thank you text, a picture with a patient, a medal from a district finals game, etc., I put it in a file folder. Each time I am feeling especially stressed, going through that file has never failed to put a smile on my face. Remind yourself of why you were once an eager young professional and strike a mental tally mark for each life you touch today.

Simplify Things – If you find much of your prep time is taken up by regularly taping your whole team, really stress the importance of using preventative ankle braces as this will make you feel less rushed and you know your athletes are still getting the best care.

Seek Help – If you’re feeling unusually bogged down by a rough interaction or a stubborn injury remember these tactics and find others that work for you. Talk to your supervisor if necessary and make sure to take the time necessary to care for your own physical and emotional wellbeing.

Practice Positive Daily Rituals – Every day I ask myself some basic questions to help put me in a positive mindset. What am I grateful for?  What am I most proud of?  Who do I love and who loves me? What can I do today to be a better Athletic Trainer, Mom, Dad, Friend, etc.  I find that when I ask myself these question I always find a positive answer which puts me in a great state of mind to handle the days events.

Think Ahead – Think of the end of your school year or current season, pretend it’s been the best yet! What made it the best? Did you communicate with other healthcare practitioners better? Did you send daily injury reports to every coach to quench their wish for minute-to-minute updates? Make these goals for the season that lies ahead and break them down into smaller steps.

Get a Jump Start on Tasks – Set up a time at the beginning or end of your next shift to update documents like your injury reports, interactions and communications, and daily treatments. Letting these tasks grow on your to-do list will only magnify your stress levels and it becomes more difficult to remember everything. An extra half hour of updates is worth the clear head.

Use Dictation – I often will record a dictated injury report or interaction with a parent, coach, or boss onto my phone. It is automatically time-stamped and it makes typing it out a breeze!
If you’re not already, become a preceptor! Being able to foster the love of athletic training in another person helps you feel better about your position. Don’t forget, too, that they share the work load!

Clarify Schedules – Create or make sure you are invited to a shared calendar between coaches, athletic director, and school. It’s all too frustrating when you are the only person to show up for an 8AM practice that was, apparently, cancelled.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Every athletic trainer I know, including myself, loves what they do. The day in and day out tasks of working with athletes and teams to keep them safe, healthy, and performing at a high level is something I’ve been passionate about for years. As with any profession, however, there are some pet peeves I’ve developed over time that relate to my athletic training career. Here are some of them I wanted to share with you that myself and my friend/fellow athletic trainer, Gerald, put together for fun :

Do you have any Gatorade?

Athletes today think Gatorade actually flows from the faucets in the athletic training room and our supply is unlimited and it’s free.  It’s not.

No fear, Dr. Mom is here…

How many times have you ran on to the court or field to evaluate a player who just sustained an injury only to get partially through your evaluation when Dr. Mom or Dr. Dad comes out of the stands? Occasionally they may even ignore you and start performing their own evaluation as though they are medical professionals. Hey! I’m a sports medicine professional in the middle of an injury evaluation on your child. I know you’re worried about them, but it’s easiest for me to help keep them safe when given the proper space to evaluate their injury.

We need a trainer to cover this new event we just added!

This is a two-part double whammy pet peeve. First of all, I hate being called a “trainer.”  The word trainer doesn’t represent our profession at all. In fact, using the word discredits the good work we do.  The NATA is doing a pretty good job of getting the message out that we are Athletic Trainers, not trainers. However we all need to politely correct those who use the “T” word.  The other pet peeve is someone is always adding new events for me to cover when I have my hands full already. No explanation needed there!

What type of athletes do you train?

Are you ever out to dinner and someone inquires as to what you do professionally?  You politely reply, I’m an athletic trainer.  And then here it comes, “what type of athletes do you train?” Now, I can’t really blame people for thinking I “train” athletes – I mean, that’s what my title is after all! But as medical professionals, “training” athletes isn’t really what we do.

I always need to describe my profession with this example – “You know when you watch sports and see an athlete get hurt? And you see those guys running on the field to evaluate the injury? Those are athletic trainers.”  Of course they then say, “So why are you called athletic trainers when you don’t train anybody?”  Oh boy, here we go again.

Can I borrow a few coolers?

This happens so often I should start charging people to rent coolers. A coach or athlete asks to borrow some coolers for their event and of course being a nice guy I say OK. A few days after the event I notice the coolers have not been returned to the athletic training room. When I do finally track them down and have them returned they are filthy both inside and out. I don’t know if you’ve ever scrubbed out a moldy cooler, but trust me it’s not a pleasant experience.

Do you know how to tape?

For me, the first thing I learned in college was how to tape. Whether it’s a curse or a blessing it would seem that taping is what athletic trainers are most known for. If that’s the case, why do we have so many people ask us if we know how to tape? That’s like asking a surgeon if he knows how to cut.

This lack of knowledge might tie back into the fact that a lot of people don’t know the difference between a personal trainer and an athletic trainer. Working to educate parents, players, and others on our profession and what we can/can’t do seems to be a never ending process but something I’m happy to do to help spread awareness of athletic trainers and their careers.

We will pay you to work this tournament!

I get asked to cover outside events like travel basketball tournaments or wrestling tournaments all of the time, but I rarely agree to work them. Unfortunately, these events typically pay an embarrassingly low wage for someone to spend their day medically treating athletes and it simply isn’t worth my time so I must decline to work the event. Hopefully if enough ATCs refuse to work these extra events for low wages we can eventually help raise the standard pay overall.

So there you have it – my top six athletic training pet peeves. If you’re an athletic trainer, would you agree or disagree with the statements above? What pet peeves would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Since athletic trainer’s are in the midst of one of the busiest times of their year, we thought it might be fun to post a reminder of five things we as athletic trainer’s are tired of hearing this time of year. I teamed up with my good friend and fellow athletic trainer, Glen Snow, to write this blog and it’s our hope that you’ll end up sharing it with your good friends that happen to be fellow ATCs as well.

Are you the trainer?

One of the biggest challenges with our profession is our identity in the public’s eye. We want to be called an athletic trainer, but everywhere you look there is a sign that says, training room, trainer’s tent, or ‘trainer available on site.’  The NATA is working to raise the level of awareness about using the appropriate terminology when referring to athletic trainers, but more work needs to be done.  All of us need to do our best at correcting these inappropriate references to our profession in order to raise the level of awareness that we are athletic trainers.

What types of athletes do you train?

Don’t you hate that question?? I know I do. I have to answer the question like, “well… we don’t train anybody. An athletic trainer is responsible for the prevention, care and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and is nothing like a personal fitness trainer.”  As we know, however, athletic training is so much more than just caring for sports injuries.

Can you cover another event we just added?

People think athletic trainers have an endless supply of hours in the day where we just sit around waiting to cover another sporting event. Fact is, most of the time there are just not enough athletic trainers to go around to make everyone happy.  I think athletic trainers sacrifice more than most professions because we establish a relationship with our athletes in terms of wanting them to receive the best level of care, even if this means after covering the football practice in the afternoon you’re immediately off to the volleyball game that evening.

Because this career is our passion, you aren’t likely to find an athletic trainer complaining while rushing from sport to sport. We are athletic trainers, it’s what we do.

Can you hurry with those reports and finish them between practices?

Sure, I can get those reports done between practices. I’ll fit it in somewhere between evaluating that football knee injury, checking out that hamstring strain that happened yesterday in soccer, taking that baseball pitcher through his rehab exercises, and finding time to grab a bite to eat before the next practice starts (after all, I skipped lunch to take a kid to the doctor…)  No problem right? And just about the time you thought you could sit down for a second, here comes the AD and asks, “Are you busy?”

Are you tired? You look a little tired?

Well if you read this far you’re probably tired from reading this blog because it may be a reflection of your daily routine and the challenges you face trying to take care of everyone’s needs.  And although your job can be long and tiring, take pride in the fact that the athletic trainer is one of the most loved and trusted member of any sports team. Now go get a good night sleep, you’ve earned it.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

It’s that time of year when athletic trainers start purchasing supplies for the upcoming season. By now you’ve probably completed your comprehensive inventory and have a good idea of what you have in stock and what you need to order. Make sure you get the products you need while getting the most out of your budget with these five tips:

Evaluate New Technologies

Just because you’ve been doing something the same way for the past ten years doesn’t mean it’s still the best way to do it. Take advantage of your off-season downtime by researching and evaluating new athletic training methods and products. Contact companies, athletic training supply reps, or other athletic trainers to inquire about free samples, scheduling a demo of new technologies, and learning more about how their product can help your athletes. For example, if you haven’t yet tried our Ultra Ankle ankle braces and are interested in evaluating our products before placing your bids this year – send us a message and see if you qualify for a free sample.

Compiling the Bid

From your inventory and conducted research you know what products you need and how many of each. Place these items in a list that is organized by category such as braces and supports, tape, rehabilitation equipment, sundry items etc., which will make it easier for the athletic supply company to review and price the items. Developing a spreadsheet is a great idea for this process as you can use this tool to help manage the inventory and reordering points.

Placing the Order

The best way to save money when purchasing athletic training supplies is to submit your entire order to several athletic supply companies so they can each bid on your order. Submitting your bid to three companies is a good rule of thumb. Once you receive your yearly bids, make sure to keep them on file to reference the next time you need to place a bid.

Be Specific When You Order

If you want a certain brand of product you must be specific when ordering that brand. State the specific brand and product name and specify “no substitution,” this way you ensure you will receive the product you want and not a generic alternative. Perhaps there are other products where the most important thing is not the brand, but price, like tape for instance. If you just specify “tape under wrap” the athletic supply company will provide pricing on multiple brands.

Shipping & Receiving

Request that shipping is included in the overall bid price so you only have one number to evaluate. Once items arrive, make sure that new inventory items are placed behind the same “older” items you already have. This way you can use the older inventory first and can smoothly transition from using one product to another. If you’re bringing any new products into the training room, make sure to take the time to explain each product and it’s use to your staff so they can properly access it if needed.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Summer is here and most of us athletic trainers finally have an off-season with some spare time on our hands. During the season(s) we tend to work such long hours that when it’s time to go home we’re exhausted and have little time to do anything but eat and sleep – we deserve a break!

Aside from having some well-deserved downtime, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite reasons to love the off-season:

You finally get to relax and have some fun. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy all of the perks that come with the season – concerts, festivals, parades, and patriotic holidays to name a few. When other fun things are happening during the year I rarely have time to join in with friends and family so when I have some spare time in the off-season I try to fill it with as many enjoyable activities as I can.

You can focus on your own health and wellness. Taking care of everyone else’s injuries and wellness can sometimes lead to athletic trainer’s putting their own health second to their athletes. During the off-season is the perfect time to start training for that mini-marathon you’ve been thinking about running, lose a few extra pounds through a healthier diet, or establishing overall healthier habits that you can take into the busy season with you.

You may get to attend the NATA convention. I’ve been attending the annual NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo for over 30 years, many of those years have been to represent my companies and share the latest ankle bracing technology with fellow athletic trainers, and I still have a great time each year! From catching up with old friends, attending alumni functions, and sharing Ultra Ankle® products with people at the AT Expo the annual NATA convention never disappoints. 

You can work on your CEU’s without as many distractions. Given the number of continued education units each athletic trainer needs to acquire during the calendar year, this can be hard to complete when you’re in the midst of a sports season. During the downtimes I like to plan out my course of action for completing that year’s CEU’s and work to complete as many as possible when I can.

It’s the time for you to refresh and recharge. Taking a brief break from the grueling day-to-day schedule of an AT allows me to return to the training room with my batteries recharged and ready to prep for my next busy season. The summer is the perfect time for me to do inventory, set a budget and order supplies for next season, organize the storage room, and much more.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

 

Three athletic trainers walk into a bar… and then one sprains their ankle. All three athletic trainers present have very strong opinions about their ankle treatment protocols, so a discussion ensues about whose methodology is best. Perhaps you’ve worked with one of these individuals and/or share their philosophies – but when presented with an ankle injury which method do you typically go with?

Ankle Taping is the Only Way

Old school Bob swears his ankle tape job is the best tape job around, so much so that he never uses ankle braces on his athletes. Bob is the master of the roll of tape and applying that basket weave with figure eights and a special twist at the end gives him confidence the ankle is locked and ready for action. Bob’s tape job is necessary when returning from an ankle injury, but does it have to be the only treatment method used?

Ideally, ankle taping should be used in conjunction with a hinged or hinged-cuff ankle brace that can provide much longer lasting ankle support than tape alone. Once the ankle is healthy, the (flawlessly executed) tape job can be skipped and the athlete can continue using the hinged-cuff brace so their range of motion isn’t limited.

No Bracing Without Lacing

Lace-up Larry is sold on lace-up ankle braces for treating all ankle conditions, even acute ankle injuries. Larry loves the tightness of the lace-up and those figure 8 straps really lock that heel in place. But even with all that ankle restriction, Larry finds he has trouble with any athlete having an acute ankle injury with weight bearing pain. What Larry doesn’t know is that lace-ups cannot “unload” the ankle, which reduces weight bearing pain and allows players to recover and return to activity more quickly. Only braces with a semi-rigid U-shaped design with full heel section can unload the ankle and reduce weight bearing pain.

As for preventative ankle bracing, Lace-up Larry also recommends the lace-up brace despite research findings that lace-up braces “negatively affected ankle joint motion and muscle function by significantly decreasing plantar flexion-dorsiflexion ROM.” Larry wastes many minutes of his life watching his athletes lace-up their braces and has learned to turn off his sense of smell every time he has a sweaty, smelly, lace-up stuck in his face. While these braces are relatively inexpensive and readily available, there are also cons to lace-up braces that need to be considered as newer brace technology is developed and being utilized.

Strong Ankles Don’t Need Support

Rehab Rita says as long as the ankle is properly rehabilitated and strengthened no ankle brace is ever needed, especially prophylactically. While I think every athletic trainer would agree that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is necessary, when a basketball player comes down from a rebound and lands on another player’s foot an ankle injury will occur no matter how strong the ankle is. That movement happens in a split second and unless the athlete is wearing an ankle brace they are going to suffer an ankle injury. As we all know, braces cannot prevent all injuries but they can lessen the severity when an injury does occur.

Ankle rehabilitation is a must post-ankle injury because now the athlete’s ligaments are stretched out and another ankle injury can easily occur. An ankle brace designed to provide long-lasting ankle protection combined with a comprehensive rehabilitation program is the best bet for helping to prevent more ankle injuries down the road.

So, What is the Best Ankle Treatment Method?

While Bob, Larry, and Rita are all strong in their ankle injury treatment protocols, they are also each correct in their own way. As for treating an ankle injury, it is best for the athletic trainer to take into consideration each of the ankle treatment methods mentioned above as well as stay on top of emerging technologies to continue improving their treatment plans and staying on top of their games.  Athletic trainers can continue to excel at their craft and provide the best treatment options by learning about new products and research findings and then integrating those with their tried and true methods listed above.

As for the three athletic trainers in the bar evaluating how to treat an ankle injury – what would you recommend to them? Tell us your preferred ankle treatment methods below in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries