People love sports and exercise. While these sports and exercises are doing good for you, they may cause injuries to your body when you engage in them. They can be caused by accidents, improper practices or gear, not warming up, or stretching enough. According to Family Doctor, ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. This is because our ankles have to bear the staggering weight of our body and sports. And ankle sprains can be difficult to deal with, especially if it’s too severe to move. The use of ankle braces can not only decrease the chance of an ankle injury during sports but also speed up healing and relieve pain in injured, weak or arthritic ankles. We evaluated dozens of ankle braces and compared their support, stability, material, and adjustability to determine the best ankle braces.
Best Ankle Braces
- Various size options
- Support ankle with strength and comfort
- The elastic cuff can fix the brace securely.
- Low profile to fit in any shoes.
- Take a bit of effort in putting on and taking off.
- Made of durable and soft material
- Adjustable straps make it suitable for most feet
- Relieve pain by compression
- Designed with non-slip adhesive gel inside
- It’s bulky in a shoe.
- The size doesn’t fit all.
- Comfortable padded lining construction
- Breathable tougue and adjustable elastic straps
- Offer stabiliby and support for injuried ankle
- Inaccurate size chart.
- Bulky with shoes
- Somewhat support for ankles in activity.
- Can fit different feet sizes
- Help to heal by holding the sprained ankles and putting compression on the feet.
- The material contains latex, which may cause irritation to sensitive skin.
- Provide good support and comfort for ankles
- Fit well and holds the sprained ankle in place.
- Durable and long-lasting
- A bit hard to put on, but it holds the ankle in place.
- Maybe a bit bulky in running shoes. It’s better to fit other wider shoes.
What Are The Benefits of Ankle Braces?
1. Ankle braces can support, compress, warm up, and stabilize injured ankles to promote optimal recovery.
In the process of compression of the injured area with soft, flexible braces, the wearer will get pain relief and remind them not to place unnecessary pressure on the joint. If it’s in severe cases of ankle sprains, the ankle braces can be used to limit the mobility of the ankle. This will speed up healing and prevent further injury.
2. Ankle braces help reduce the chance of ankle injuries for runners, athletes, horse riders, and other active people in activities.
3. People with weak ankles or joint diseases can use ankle braces to reduce soreness and discomfort during daily walking.
What to Consider When Buying Ankle Braces?
Although ankle braces are effective and useful, it’s best to consult a physician about the severity of your ankle injury before trying to heal it at home. Because incorrect ankle brace type and use can prove to be ineffective or even dangerous to injury. Here are some tips for choosing the right ankle brace.
Ankle Brace Types
Compression ankle braces
These ankle braces are also known as compression sleeves. They are best for minor injuries where ankle stability is not compromised. Compression ankle braces are made of lightweight elastic, look like socks without toes. They provide warmth and compression to reduce muscle stiffness and discomfort while performing daily activities. Compression sleeves can be worn all day long. They are easy to put on and take off.
Strap or wrap ankle braces
Strap ankle braces are made from elastic cloth straps. Look similar to compression sleeves, patients can wrap the strap around their ankles to create a criss-cross, figure-8 style. These ankle braces are adjustable to fit different ankle sizes and pressure preferences by adjusting the tension of the straps. They are popular for their affordable prices. However, their compression performance and comfort will be affected by the material used, which have various thickness and flexibility. Some ankle braces come with so many straps. This makes it difficult to put on and requires that you spend time to find the right adjustment.
Lace-up ankle braces
Originally made of rigid fabric, these braces typically feature straps that wrap around the ankle in a figure-8 and use Velcro or shoelaces to tie the ankle and restrict movement. You can put on or remove it easily by tightening or releasing the Velcro or shoelaces.
The lace-up ankle braces are suitable for people who need mild ankle support and will not engage in high-intensity activity. They usually have an affordable price.
As lace-up ankle braces can restrict the natural movement of the ankle, they could impact athletic performance if worn for prolonged periods.
Due to their fabric construction, they will absorb odors and become very unpleasant.
Hinged ankle braces
Hinged ankle braces are usually made of semi-rigid plastic with padding inside for extra comfort and support. They can be adjusted with the straps and are much easier to put on and take off than lace-up braces.
Hinged ankle braces are made to prevent the ankle from rolling to one side and allow the athletes to move freely up and down their ankles, even run and jump. While hinged ankle braces limit side-to-side movement, they are flexible enough to be worn by active people. These ankle braces are durable enough to last for a few seasons.
As these braces are usually placed under the insole of a shoe. This causes them to move with the shoe and not the ankle joint, which increases the chances of friction injury. Also, it may take some search to find the best size to fit most shoes.
Hinged ankle braces are suitable for those who need moderate ankle support and protection from sprains.
Rigid ankle braces
Rigid ankle braces or stirrup ankle braces have a hard outer shell that restricts the ankle’s movement. To protect the ankle from injury, rigid ankle braces provide complete stability. Gel pads can be used to compress the ankle and reduce swelling. Rigid ankle braces are most commonly used to support the ankle after severe injuries or sprains. They are not recommended for preventative purposes as they almost restrict movement.
Ankle brace varies in their material, which is concerned with the quality and maintenance. Also, it may concern the user’s health, if the brace contains latex, it may cause allergy or irritation to the skin.
Compression ankle braces: The compression ankle braces should be made from lightweight material that is flexible and breathable, but not too loose. Knitted compression sleeves are made of lycra, nylon, and neoprene. They provide targeted compression and can be longer-lasting. Copper-infused compression sleeves may promote healing.
Lace-up ankle bracelets: These ankle braces are made from flexible nylon or vinyl, and provide good durability. Velcro straps, or a combination thereof, make it easier to adjust, fasten and unfasten lace-up ankle braces.
Hinged ankle braces: Hinged braces are made of harder plastics and can crack over time. Some hinged ankle braces can mold to the unique contours of the wearer, which extends the life expectancy.
Rigid ankle braces: Rigid braces are made from a hard outer shell of plastic with foam, air, or gel padding to provide greater comfort and stability. To reduce swelling, gel-filled pads can go in the freezer.
Choose the right type
When choosing an ankle brace, it’s important to choose according to your actual needs. An improper ankle brace may cause future injuries than supports. According to the specific severity and nature of the injury, there are three main purposes of using ankle braces: to help heal the injured ankle, to prevent future injuries, and for comfort.
For severe ankle injuries: A rigid ankle brace will be the best choice as it is more sturdy and will provide more support and stability to prevent your ankles from unnecessary movement. Some have panels on the sides and are adjustable. These can be used immediately following an injury severity.
For mild ankle injuries, the main purpose is to prevent future injuries. A lace-up or hinged ankle brace can add compression to the injured area and provide support and stability to some extent. A lace-up style is also a better option if you want a custom fit. This style can be used to ease back into regular activities or sports. It’s also great for strains and sprains around the ankle joint.
For mostly or partially healed ankle injuries, the elastic wraps, and compression sleeves are ideal for preventing recurring injuries. They can support weak ankles. You can continue to build your strength on the field. Slowly, you will be able to stop using a brace (which is ideal for a healthy joint).
For chronic conditions or comfort, compress sleeves are ideal to reduce pain and soreness after activity. They tend to be lightweight and elastic and can be worn for a longer time without causing discomfort during activity.
Ask your doctor or physical therapist which type of treatment is right for you. They will help you narrow down the options and get you the information you need.
An ankle brace must fit snugly to ensure its effectiveness. If the ankle brace is too loose, it can make it ineffective. This could cause chafing or scraping. An ankle brace that is too tight can restrict your circulation or worsen the problem. Many ankle braces can be sized according to the shoe size. You can adjust the elastic ankle wraps and lace-up ankle braces easily. Additionally, many manufacturers offer a sizing guide that will help you find the right fit. It is also a good idea to research other users’ reviews and size references.
Should I walk with an ankle brace?
It depends on the severity of your ankle injury and the type of ankle brace.
Injuries such as dislocations, fractures, and sprains take time to heal. After a severe ankle injury, your injured ankle needs stability and pain relief from an ankle brace. Too soon for walking or weight-bearing can slow down healing and cause re-injury. But if your ankle is mostly healed, you can wear an ankle brace for a longer time while you walk.