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An external hinged support made of metal or a prefabricated material. Braces are used as an alternative to taping to support ankles and knees. There are three main types. A prophylactic brace is designed to reduce the risk of sustaining an injury, but their use is very controversial; some sports doctors believe they actually increase the risk of injury. A rehabilitative brace is designed to protect a joint after an injury; for example, it prevents lateral movements, which would put stress on the knee, but allows controlled bending and straightening of the knee to accelerate healing. A functional brace is designed to compensate for unstable joints by improving the relationship between the articulating structures and the loads acting on them. Most sports doctors agree that the best way to prevent joint injuries is to follow an appropriate conditioning programme to develop a natural ‘brace’ provided by strong muscles around the joint.

Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.

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