Ankle braces, ankle taping, and expensive shoes that are specifically designed to protect your foot from injuries are actually doing the opposite. These protective barriers are limiting your foot that has 26 bones and 20 muscles in each foot. That is over 1/4 of the bones in your body and a very high number of muscles for such a small area. That probably means it's pretty important.
The goal of these contraptions is to limit injuries, right? Putting a brace on is similar to putting on a flimsy cast. If you've ever had a cast removed after 6-8 weeks, that area it covers is often very weak and immobile. Why would you put a light cast on all year long unless there is an injury? It makes no sense to give your 10 year old daughter ankle braces and high tops for her first volleyball practice when she's never had an injury. Let your feet move and strengthen and there will be less injuries throughout one's career.
Lets look at some of the most elite athletes in the world, NBA players. NBA statistician Harvey Pollack found out that players missed 64% more games due to ankle and foot injuries than 20 years ago! The main difference between now and then has to be the stuff they put on their feet. Shoes today come out with more and more technology more for marketing reasons than functional purpose. Adidas claims to have a computer chip that conforms to the ground and your foot for $250 a pair. If you like wasting $250, give it to me and I'll gamble it in Vegas, chances are it's gone in 10 minutes. Why do these companies keep coming out with more technology? If Nike came out and said they were wrong and you actual need less technology and support to increase foot strength and support, how much money would they lose and what would it do to their rep?
This past year Kobe Bryant asked Nike to design a low top shoe because he felt he could have more stability and strength in his foot to get through the long season. People were shocked about this but it makes sense if you just think about how the body works and gets stronger, the more you ask the body to do by itself, the more it will adapt and get stronger.
Last I will give you a statistic comparing the number of injuries from soccer to basketball players. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System said in 2006 that there were an estimated 529,837 injuries in basketball with a majority being in the ankle and foot area. Soccer only had 186,544 injuries. Soccer players will often refuse braces and tape, and wear cleats that are as light and thin as possible. Yeah they might not jump as much but your telling me slide tackles don't cause ankle injuries? Their feet and ankles area strong because they actually use those muscles when they cut and move.
Now if you get injured (which does happen no matter how strong your feet and ankles are), wear a brace or tape to get you through games. What i'm saying is that if you are healthy please wear low top training shoes and no braces. I personally wear Nike Free's and some nuts like to go as far as wearing the Vibram 5 Fingers. If you can sneak some barefoot training in your warm-up or while squatting or lunging even better. The overall message I want to imprint in your brain is to set your foot free and allow it to do what it's made to do!