Whether you’re highly competitive or a recreational athlete, chances are good that you’ll end up with some kind of injury at some point. And because ankle injuries are common, you may find yourself needing to purchase an ankle brace at some point.
Fortunately, given the number of manufacturers currently selling ankle braces, you can usually find an ankle brace for a very affordable price. However, price isn’t the only thing to think about when making a purchase. One of the most important things to decide is level of support. Most ankle braces involve a small compression sleeve that pulls up over your ankle. Lower-support braces stop at this step. But if you need more support, you’ll probably find a brace that also has velcro straps that wrap around the ankle. These straps can be adjusted to add more support as needed. You also can sometimes find a brace that is made similarly to a splint. This type of support is useful if you need to avoid torsion.
It’s also wise to think about how you’ll use the brace. If you simply need a support as you heal from an injury and you haven’t quite built back up to playing your sport yet, the possibility of slipping may not be as major. However, if you’re wearing a brace for injury prevention or as you work back into your sport, you may need to make sure that your brace isn’t likely to slip.
Choosing a brace can be overwhelming, especially when you consider the sheer variety available. In order to help make your decision easier, we have gathered the top five sports ankle braces to choose from.
This ankle brace from Riptgear has a major advantage right off the bat–it’s designed to be thin and low-profile, so you can wear it under shoes with ease. This makes a huge difference if you’re healing from an injury and need support all through the day.
This brace has a simple design that can be used to help heal injuries or to manage chronic pain. And while the design is simple, it’s still one that works well. With an adjustable velcro strap that wraps around both foot and ankle, you can easily and quickly change the level of compression. And lastly, this brace is fairly affordable, making it easy for you to make sure your manage ankle pain well.
This ankle brace is a major departure from most designs you’ll see. While it has a similar wraparound ankle strap to many ankle braces, it has a much different way of supporting injuries. Most ankle braces (both in general and on this list) use compression to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Instead of compression your ankle, this brace operates like a splint. A somewhat rigid splint passes under your foot and over the sides of the ankle. This splint is held in place by wraparound velcro straps.
This design will let you flex your ankle to a certain degree (meaning you’ll be able to walk with it), but it doesn’t allow a twisting motion. Since many ankle injuries come from twisting the ankle, this might be a suitable brace for many injuries. However, it’s much more expensive than many available ankle braces. If you think a different design might work best for you, it may be worthwhile to choose that design.
At first glance, this ankle brace just looks like another type of pull-over compression sleeve. But due to several innovative design choices, this is a very advanced ankle brace. For starters, the knit itself is different. Unlike many cheap ankle braces, this one uses a three-dimensional and textured knit. This knot is designed to appropriately contour to your ankle, so it delivers just the right amount of compression.
This brace also has another very unique feature. It includes two interior pads that cushion and gently massage the ankle joint with each step. And because of their cushioning abilities, these braces can also be used to help prevent injuries. The compression increases curculation, and the included padding adds comfort, support, and stability. This is a somewhat expensive brace, but like other Bauerfeind devices, it’s backed by top-quality German engineering.
This ankle brace is another offering from Bauerfeind’s German engineering. However, it’s been specialized for those who expect that they will need to wear the brace for sports.
One of the first important features for athletes is the knit used in the brace. Like most high-tech ankle brace knits, it’s designed to gently massage tissue. But this mesh is designed to be able to breathe, and it also wicks sweat away in order to keep you comfortable.
This brace also features adjustable straps. These are called “taping straps” because they mimic the effects of kinesiology tape. These straps adjust compression behind the achilles tendon and under the foot. When tightened enough, they can help you restrict your ankle’s range of motion.
As the most affordable option on this list, this ankle brace from Prim offers straightforward compression and stabilization. However, it has a bit of an advantage over many inexpensive braces. Like many of them, it involves a strap in a figure eight that goes around the bottom of the foot and around the achilles tendon. However, an additional loop around the upper ankle helps hold the figure eight in place. This is useful for holding the brace in place, especially while you’re staying active.
This brace is designed to be both breathable and washable, so it’s easy to wear and care for. And considering these features alongside the stabilizing extra loop means that this is a brace that’s especially suited to daily use by athletes.
When you’re trying to heal an injury in order to get back to full functionality in your sport, choosing the right ankle brace can make a significant difference. But before you choose a brace, be sure to talk to your doctor and/or do your own research. When you understand what parts of your ankle need to be stabilized, you’ll be much better equipped to choose a brace that will help you. Once you have your brace, make sure to still go easy on your injured ankle–a brace is a support, not necessarily a cure. By staying patient and wearing your brace regularly, you’ll be well on your way to being healed.