How Do I Choose The Best Ankle Brace?
With all the different kinds of ankle braces, compression sleeves, lace up braces, and technologies like form-fit and gels, which of these braces is the right choice for your injury?
There are so many different types of ankle braces and brace manufacturers on the market these days. It's hard to keep up with all the new bracing technology and different methods that manufacturers are using to keep your ankles stable. You might be asking yourself, "What kind of ankle brace do I even need?" We're going to go over some basics to help make the choice easy for you.
When choosing a brace, you'll first want to decide on what sort of functionality you need, and then how you need the brace to fit. Depending on what sort of injury you have and how tight you like your ankle brace to be, you're going to be looking at a couple of options. These range from more bulky braces with tons of support that might be suitable for a more serious injury, to lightweight compression sleeves that help nurse a minor sprain.
You will want to take into account where you will be using the brace, how often you will be using it for, and how long you plan to use it for. If you're coming back from a bad injury like a break or surgery, then you will need a brace that will keep your ankle as stable as possible. For a simple sprain or strain, where you need just a little support, you will want to pick an ankle brace that lightly compresses the ankle and keeps it rigid to prevent further injury. Below we discuss some great options for different types of use.
Sports - Canvas Wraps or Sleeves
If you play sports and are looking for something to keep your ankle from rolling again while you're running or doing other activity, you will want something with moderate levels of support. You will also want to be sure that your ankle brace fits snugly inside a cleat or shoe so that you can be active with minimal discomfort. One very good brace (pictured below) in this category is the gameday ankle brace from Ossur. This popular option provides extremely good support for level I and II sprains (mild to moderate), with optional semi-rigid stays for the optimum amount of stability in the ankle. It can be adjusted to however tight or loose you may need, and slips perfectly into a shoe so that you can stay active.
The Ossur Gameday Brace
This brace won't remove pain, but it will keep a moderate sprain stable enough for you to play on without making it something much worse, like a tear or break. This ankle brace is popular with many basketball players as it can easily be adjusted and is very low-profile thanks to a streamlined design. In addition this brace is machine washable, something very necessary in a sports brace due to the sweat and other grime that can accumulate after an intense game. After a good hang drying, it will be fresh for future use.
Home Life - Rigid Ankle Braces With Higher Support
If you suffer from chronic arthritis or similar ankle pain, a great option is the Ossur hot/cold gel ankle brace. This brace (below) is great for heating or cooling the ankle to provide pain and swelling relief, while at the same time giving a good amount of support. This model also fits perfectly in a shoe, and could be covered up with a pants leg if you wanted it to be inconspicuous. The gel pad is removable as well if you decided that you just need simple support, and the brace is easy to use with simple Velcro straps for persons that might have difficulty tying up laces or fumbling with wraps.
Ossur Gel Hot/Cold Ankle Brace
If you are suffering a more serious injury, and are maybe transferring from a walking boot, or just need a heavy duty ankle brace that will totally immobilize the ankle, you will want to consider something along the lines of the Ossur rebound ankle brace. This model is solid rather than canvas or cloth based, and will provide a high level of support for persons recovering from more serious injury. Recommended more for home use, this brace is a bit bulkier than most. It would likely still fit in a shoe, but the result would be less comfortable than an option like the gameday ankle brace. On the plus side, you are getting the most stability possible without transitioning to a full boot.
Simple Injury - Compressive Sleeves and Wraps
If you aren't playing sports, and perhaps don't need the support that a full ankle brace offers, you will want to get a compressive sleeve or ankle wrap. Sleeves and wraps give compression for things like mild sprains and strains, and help prevent swelling in the foot and ankle. Most sleeves are machine washable and come in packs, so you can wear a new one every day if desired. The most popular option we have in this category are these simple elastic compression sleeves. Also manufactured by Ossur, these are a quality product that many trust on a day to day basis for simple ankle compression.
Our compression sleeves (they come in a huge pack of 6!)
A good wrap or compressive sleeve will provide even compression across the foot and ankle, without being too tight. It's important to purchase the right size sleeve for your foot - the wrong size will likely either be too tight or too loose. A wrap is much more adjustable than a sleeve, but the downside is that often wraps come undone or loosen throughout the day. It's important to use your best judgment to decide what option will be best for you. Shop-Orthopedics recommends the sleeve just based on its ease of use.
Hopefully you have enough information to choose the best ankle brace for your injury or situation. You may want to consider doing more research based on your condition - talk to doctors and do some more searching online. The best ankle brace is ultimately going to be the one that you feel fits best and most comfortably, while providing a good amount of stability based on your injury.