A well-respected design, this stabilizing product earns our medical expert's approval for its ambidextrous design.
Innovative figure-8 design allows for optimal support and protection to help with overall stability. Features a bilateral design, ensuring you can use it on the right or left foot with ease.
Some consumers, particularly those who are using it for activities, find it to be a bit too rigid.
These stockings are great for reducing swelling for mild injuries, according to our expert.
Smooth, low-profile design fits inside most types of footwear and over most socks. Compressive support around the arch and top of the foot may reduce fatigue and cramping.
Better suited for light compressive support than actual bracing or stabilizing.
Our expert loves this choice thanks to its price point and ability to help with minor injuries.
Can be wrapped in multiple different ways around your foot to provide a more comfortable fit. Has a soft silicone underside to ensure that it doesn't slide out of place. Easy to clean after use.
Only comes in a single size, which may not work for some.
A great product that helps support ankles during any manner of physical activity, according to our expert.
The plastic design helps maintain structured support while also remaining durable. Has a hinged cuff to help with movement. The straps have high-quality Velcro that will stay in place during intense activities.
May take some time to dial in a proper fit.
A solid pick that our expert recommends for its ability to be both breathable and easy to wash.
This simple design can function as an ankle or wrist brace. The material allows for support, and it is flexible for physical activities. Thin enough to fit underneath shoes. Can be reused multiple times.
Some users noted that the self-adhesion may not last long.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Our ankles bear an incredible amount of weight. Not surprisingly, ankle injuries are among the most common injuries, with a whopping one million people visiting the emergency room for this reason each year. Ankle braces speed up recovery and provide support for a reduced risk of further injury.
Choosing the correct ankle brace is essential. However, with countless options available, from compression sleeves to rigid boots, how do you find the right ankle brace for you? We’re here to help.
Ankle braces work by supporting and stabilizing injured ankles, promoting optimal recovery. Soft, flexible ankle braces compress the affected area, which not only helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain but also boosts awareness of the injury. With an ankle brace, the wearer is less likely to unintentionally place excessive pressure on the joint. In cases of severe ankle sprains, rigid ankle braces reduce joint mobility, effectively speeding up recovery and preventing further injury.
If you have an ankle injury, you should consult a podiatrist since they will be able to diagnose and properly manage severe ankle sprains. If placing weight on the foot causes significant pain, you may need an x-ray to make sure you don't have a fracture. An ankle brace won't provide enough support for a fracture and may do more harm than good.
In recent years, a growing focus on prevention has seen a rise in the number of athletes, runners, and active individuals sporting ankle braces while exercising.
Beyond assisting in recovery, ankle braces may also be worn to:
Support joints during strenuous activities
Help active individuals remain mindful of proper form, thereby reducing the risk of injury
Reduce the likelihood of a repeated injury
Alleviate pain and discomfort caused by previous injuries or degenerative joint diseases, such as arthritis
Also known as compression sleeves, these ankle braces work best for mild injuries, where ankle stability hasn’t been compromised. Through a combination of compression and warmth, compression ankle braces reduce swelling and pain associated with minor injuries. Made of lightweight elastic, compression ankle braces are suitable for everyday use and can lead to reduced muscle stiffness and discomfort during daily activities.
Semi-rigid ankle braces provide more support than compression ankle braces.
Lace-up ankle braces: Lace-up ankle braces are the most adjustable ankle braces, allowing for varying degrees of tightness on each point of the foot and ankle. Lace-up ankle braces are highly favored by athletes. However, lace-up ankle braces also restrict the natural motion of the ankle and may impact athletic performance when used for extended periods.
Hinged ankle braces: Featuring padded sides for added comfort and support, hinged ankle braces are designed to stop the ankle from rolling side to side, while still allowing for up and down movement. With adjustable straps, hinged ankle braces are easier to get on and off than lace-up ankle braces. Although hinged ankle braces restrict side-to-side motion, they offer good flexibility for active individuals and will fit in most shoes.
Rigid ankle braces, or stirrup ankle braces, feature a hard outer shell, which significantly limits the ankle’s range of side to side and up and down movement. Rigid ankle braces offer complete stabilization to protect the ankle from further injury. Some rigid ankle braces have gel pads for compression, helping to reduce pain and swelling. Most frequently used following ankle trauma, in which joint stability is compromised, rigid ankle braces give the best level of support and play an essential role in the rehabilitation of severe ankle sprains and injuries. As rigid ankle braces almost completely restrict motion, they’re not suitable for ongoing preventative use.
Intended use is easily the most important consideration when choosing an ankle brace. Whether used to treat an injury, for comfort, or as a preventative measure, the incorrect type of ankle brace could end up doing more harm than good.
For injured joints, determining the nature and severity of the injury plays a critical role in finding the best ankle brace to help speed up recovery. When an ankle brace is used over prolonged periods for comfort, prevention, or support of a previously injured ankle, factors such as stability, range of motion, and ease of use should be taken into account.
Ankle brace construction varies from type to type. Here are some qualities to keep an eye out for in each category.
Compression ankle braces: Compression ankle braces should be made of lightweight material that is elastic and breathable without being too loose. Commonly made from lycra, nylon, and neoprene, knitted compression sleeves offer targeted compression and tend to be more durable, while copper-infused varieties may help promote healing.
Lace-up ankle braces: Lace-up ankle braces are usually made of flexible nylon or vinyl and offer good durability. Lace-up ankle braces with Velcro straps or a combination of laces and straps are easier to adjust, fasten, and unfasten.
Hinged ankle braces: Hinged ankle braces have harder plastic components, which sometimes require breaking in and may be prone to cracking over time. However, some hinged ankle braces have patented technology to mold to the wearer’s unique contours, extending the overall life of the brace.
For an ankle brace to be effective, the correct fit is essential. A fit that’s too loose will render an ankle brace ineffective and could lead to chafing and scraping. Too tight and you risk exacerbating the problem or even cutting off circulation. While many ankle braces are sized according to shoe size, most manufacturers also provide a sizing chart for the best fit.
Ankle braces can cost as little as $10 for a compression ankle brace to more than $100 for rigid ankle braces designed for severe injuries. Price varies according to size, materials, and brand.
While compression ankle braces tend to be more affordable and can alleviate pain and reduce swelling, keep in mind that these braces are most suitable for mild injuries or as a preventative measure.
A. Yes and no. Ankle braces that do not restrict the natural up and down motion of your ankle — compression ankle braces and hinged ankle braces — will not cause weakened ankles, even when worn frequently. However, lace-up ankle braces, which immobilize the joint, have been shown to significantly impact ankle strength and may even reduce athletic ability. When choosing an ankle brace, opt for a model that doesn’t restrict up and down motion, unless advised to do so by your doctor.
A. Although wearing an ankle brace considerably reduces the likelihood of spraining your ankle, it cannot prevent it altogether. In some cases, a sprain is unavoidable. But wearing an ankle brace will lower the odds of sustaining an ankle injury.
A. Keeping your ankle brace clean will not only prevent unpleasant odors, but it may improve durability as well. Most soft ankle braces can be washed in cold water using a mild detergent and then allowed to air dry. For semi-rigid and rigid ankle braces with plastic or metal components, follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to avoid damaging the ankle brace.