soft-braces1Soft Braces, How Do They Work?
by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

Tid Bits of Info.

  • Common uses for soft braces are OA of the knee, patella femoral syndrome and ankle instability.
  • While wearing the soft brace, studies have shown more knee stability during agility drills which might correlate with reduced knee and ankle injuries.
  • Increased proprioception and consequent muscle action appears to be the mechanism by which a soft brace reduces symptoms.
  • Most soft braces are made out elastic or neoprene.
  • If you suffer an injury seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist.

You’re at the park and someone jogs by wearing a soft brace. Over the last few years, soft braces have become a common sight in sports, fitness, and even daily activities. Many people with “self-diagnosed” joint problems treat the pain by putting an elastic or neoprene sleeve on the injured body part. If the brace is made of neoprene or elastic, it doesn’t really provide enough support to a joint to stabilize it mechanically, so how does it help?

First, we need to consider the problem. Joints in the body have all kinds of nerve ending in them and around them.  Each nerve serves a purpose and does something to that joint that helps the joint function.  Neural input controls the motor and sensory aspect of that joint.  When a joint is injured or begins to degenerate the neural input can be altered to a point that effects the way the joint functions.  Rehabilitation efforts are geared at restoring the normal neural input into the joint.

When a brace is recommended by a healthcare professional, the use of a brace is determined by the amount of instability in a joint. Soft braces, on the other hand, seem to be used by the general public when a joint hurts. There have not been a many studies performed to determine why there is a reduction in pain when someone wears a soft brace, but recently more research is being performed to try to determine the mechanism that occurs when the soft brace is used by someone with a sore joint.

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