An ankle brace provides protection and support (such as lace up ankle brace). People wear it to prevent an ankle injury, when they are recovering from an ankle injury, or when they are experiencing chronic pain in the ankle. Aside from that, an ankle brace can provide protection from sprains, arthritis, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and inflammation.
Because of its benefits, it is important that you know how to choose the right ankle brace. Otherwise, if you end up with the wrong size and fit, you will not be able to get these benefits and may end up doing more damage to your ankle. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind:
Getting the proper fit
There are two ways to ensure that you are getting the right fit: your ankle circumference and your shoe size. Most packages have a sizing chart indicated at the back so make sure to check it out and assess which one is the best fit for you.
Choosing the proper material
Ankle braces are usually made out of fabric or neoprene. Neoprene is very flexible so it can fit your ankle closely and provide good support. Because it is a close fit, it also can provide heat insulation to protect your ankle against pain. But the downside of neoprene ankle braces is that it is not breathable. Because of this, it can be too hot when you use it all day. Fabric and knit materials are far more breathable so your foot stays cool. However, the downside with fabric ankle braces is that they can not insulate heat.
Choosing the right type
- Ankle sleeves
Ankle sleeves are designed to give moderate compression and protection. You can use it to give you support and relief from swelling, inflammation, and pain. This type of ankle brace is often recommended for those with arthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, or ankle injury.
- Ankle support
Ankle support works like an ankle sleeve only that it has a strap system to provide more compression and protection. The straps come in figures 8 or 6. The figure 8 strap is used to maximize the compression as it is a full wraparound design. Figure 6 is more for protection especially when you will be doing a lot of lateral moves or you will be in a situation where you are at risk of spraining or rolling your ankle.
- Lace-up ankle brace
This is a very stylish ankle brace as it comes with a shoelace design. Because of this, it provides maximum support. Just like shoelaces, the tightness can be adjusted.
Adjusting for the right tightness
If you are using the ankle brace for protection, the level of tightness will depend on your need for protection. Flexible tightness is advised for low protection while rigid tightness should be applied for maximum protection. It is important that the ankle brace will not restrict blood flow and that it does not cause you pain when you use it.
The best ankle brace for you will depend on what you need it for (support or protection) and how often you will use it (all day or short period). The important thing is that you are comfortable when you use it. It is best if the brace is not too loose or too tight to get its maximum benefits.