Updated: Nov 13
One ongoing debate involves the use of braces for an injury or pain vs no brace. There are many reasons why wearing a brace is beneficial and also several times when I wouldn’t recommend it.
In general, our body was made with its own internal bracing system called our ligaments. We also have other stability features including muscle control, joint movement, fascia, etc. Once an injury occurs, our body is forced to find new ways of controlling stability and preventing re-injury.
Sometimes it is helpful to utilize a brace to prevent re-injury when you have to perform an activity or return to a sport and don’t feel you are 100% or don’t have the muscle control required to complete the task. Other times someone could have some feedback from taping, for example, and get what their body needs to perform.
If you aren’t sure if the pain you are feeling is ok to push through or you should stop your training to get help, check out: Avoiding Signs of Pain or Injury.
So, is it good to brace, or no? Let’s discuss it further and I’ll leave it to you to decide.
The Purpose of Bracing
The short and sweet of it is that bracing is used to protect a joint/s from re-injury and/or to decrease the strain put through a joint while it is healing.
More recently braces have started to be used for prevention, whether there was an injury or not. However, from a physical therapist perspective, it is unnecessary and can possibly lead your joint to increased weakness or instability and lead to a higher risk of injury.
Think about it this way; if our ligaments, muscles, fascia, and joints aren’t having to do their job because a brace is doing it for them then the body will learn to rely on the brace and their anatomy will become weakened. It is most beneficial to rehab your injury with the assistance of a physical therapist to make sure that your body is performing as it should and your motion returns to normal. Click this link to read my post titled "3 Reasons Why You Need a Physical Therapist in Your Life."
Bracing vs Taping
Taping is another option for treatment to provide stability and strength to a joint. There are many different ways to tape and many different types of tape depending on what you are trying to accomplish. The biggest difference is that most of the time, taping is not as sturdy as a brace would be.
What I personally like about taping is that it can be very minimal to allow the body to do the majority of the work while the tape provides mostly feedback for the body to learn to control the joint on its own. You can also use tape to help facilitate a movement or inhibit a muscle, move a joint in the right direction, or take pressure off of an area. Braces are typically made general to accommodate for many types of pain and injuries and are not specific.
So When is it Okay to Brace?
Bracing can be beneficial, as stated before, when you use it appropriately. If you suffered an injury and have to return to work or a sport and don’t feel 100%, whether it’s mental or physical, bracing would be appropriate to prevent further injury.
If you have to perform a movement in your day that causes you pain, it would be beneficial to wear a brace while doing that thing until you learn to use muscles and stabilize around the area.
Bracing should be something you plan to wean yourself off of vs wearing it as a crutch.
What’s Your Scenario?
Let me know what you have going on and we can schedule to talk about it and what could work best for you. You can visit my website: www.onthemovempt.com to schedule a free consultation.
Are you struggling to return to activity following your injury or pain? I have a blog that walks you through overcoming adversity and returning to sport when your body is ready. Check it out by clicking here.