Should I get a boot?

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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Should I get a boot?

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    David D
    BPL Member


    I’ve rolled my ankles more times than I can count.  Ian, any reason you prefer tape over a lace up brace?

    Did a few days last week and one was bombed with 2 inches of rain on one.  If it wasn’t zero friction rock or root, it was slip and slide leaves, swamp and anything downhill or uphill was a brook the whole way:

    Of course it was great but even with poles I’m embarrassed to say I hit the deck 3 times.  Renegades saved my ankle’s butt cheeks.



    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Ian H,
    Your post kept me wondering about whether your professional responsibilities limit the time available for toughening up the ankle muscles. Living in a rural area helps me with that. There are miles and miles of forest accessible from the back yard. Just guessing, though; and thanks for your post.

    Ian H
    BPL Member


    David, the tape is more rigid (especially with a few layers) and the adhesion adds to the proprioception (sensory feedback) so that in theory, when you start to go over you feel the skin pulling in time for your muscles to catch you.

    That’s a nice theory, and explains the benefit of stretchier tapes the tennis players wear on their arms, but sadly it’s still possible to go too far before you have time to react. Thankfully, the tape does help hold the swelling in if you have to keep on walking.

    If you’re wearing low cut shoes or softer boots, the tape also prevents you getting too far over sideways on the ankle, before the ‘last straw’ incident that tears the ligament. That’s why you can’t sprain an ankle in a ski boot, it won’t allow too much sideways movement.

    I use several braces for ‘light’ wear, like when recuperating from a new sprain and wearing business shoes, or walking the dog.

    Sam, I’ve got legs like a lowland gorilla :), the problem is the muscles don’t always fire fast enough to catch me before the ligament tears. Even with poles, as David mentions. Ironically, it’s usually in an urban environment like a wet car park with a bit of oil slick, rather than out in the bush. Once you’ve had a complete tear of a ligament, it loses a lot of its proprioception, so it doesn’t tell you it’s being stretched until too late. Muscles have a lot more stretch in them, so they are slower to notice a twist.

    The battle with splints and footwear is between too rigid which restricts rock-hopping, traversing etc, and not rigid enough! Maybe Elon or someone will invent a computerised boot that will automatically stiffen when you start to slip, like the Segway microchip maintains balance.

    Glen L
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Arizona

    A big part of it is more than just strengthening muscles. It’s the brain to ankle synapse time that gets rusty when one isn’t hiking over rough terrain for a long period of time. One exercise that really helps is to stand on one foot and tap the other around it in a circle back and forth. Then do the other. I had a friend who fell down nine times one year but after she did that exercise for a while the turning ankle followed by a fall stopped. So if you live in flatland or city and can’t always hike difficult terrain do that exercise.
    Now we live so close to exhilarating terrain that we can go out our front door cold and walk here in nine minutes flat. So we do that several times a week and have seven canyons in the comfortable radius with the highest peak at 9,157’ from our 2700’ home, saguaros to ponderosas. So that keeps the ankle problems to a minimum.

    David D
    BPL Member


    >Once you’ve had a complete tear of a ligament, it loses a lot of its proprioception

    I heavily tore ankle ligaments in high school twice each side and never used to have much proprioception so that was also the case for me.

    I find exercise mind numbing boring and try to get my work outs playing sports.  Since I retook up singles tennis & basketball 20 years ago my proprioception improved significantly.


    Paul McLaughlin
    BPL Member


    So, here is a very simple thing that I have done in the past to strengthen my ankles:

    find a moderately steep smooth surface – a driveway is what I was on – and walk in circles on it. You’ll spend part of each circle walking with your left side uphill, and part with your right side uphill. Works all the muscles all the way around. Boring as all get out, but effective.

    I should say that I did this not because I have had a bunch of sprains or anything like that, but because my ankles are almost too flexible. They will fold up and send me down with no damage to the ankle – but possibly damage to hands and knees and gear.

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