Ankle Support Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know
Ankles are delicate joints, and injuries to them are common at all ages–from elementary school soccer players to the elderly with arthritis. Ankle support can help prevent injury or help you recover from an injury faster and give you the mental confidence needed to get back on your feet. Below, we explain the three benefits of ankle supports and how to buy the right ankle support for you.
Benefits of Ankle Supports
So what are the benefits of an ankle support besides, well, support? Here are three more reasons you might want to consider an ankle brace:
While not quite as complicated as your hands, your ankle is still comprised of seven tarsal bones. This configuration means that your ankles are great at flexing and moving, sometimes a little too much so. Your ankles have to bear the weight of nearly your entire body, which makes them prone to sprains and other injuries. Ankle support helps hold everything in place and reduces your chances of accidentally turning your joints.
Maybe it’s too late for injury prevention, and you’ve already gotten a sprained ankle. Even so, ankle support can still help by reducing swelling and alleviating pain in the process. An ankle brace will also provide joint extra support as you heal up and keep you from exacerbating your symptoms or re-injuring it.
Many foot conditions can limit your mobility, including arthritis, sprains, ankle pain, inflammation, plantar fasciitis and tendonitis. Wearing an ankle support can help you regain some of your old mobility by alleviating your symptoms or preventing a flare-up. Ankle support can also give you the mental confidence you need to stop worrying about falls every time you leave the house.
How to Buy an Ankle Support
You’re convinced that you need to buy an ankle brace, so now what? Once you talk to your doctor and ask what option is best for you, here are four steps to follow that will make buying your brace a breeze.
Consider your reasons for buying an ankle brace.
People buy ankle supports for all sorts of reasons, whether they’re struggling with foot pain or trying to prevent athletic accidents. Ask yourself why you need to get an ankle brace and let that guide your decision. If you need an ankle brace for multiple situations—such as vigorous workouts and everyday walking—you might need to consider purchasing one for each type of activity. For example, in the above scenario, you might want a heavy-duty hinged brace for working out and a lighter ankle support sock for simply walking around the house.
Decide how long you will wear it.
Are you planning to wear the ankle supports for just an hour or two at a time, or for the entire day? If you need to wear the brace for hours without taking it off, it’s especially important to choose a material that will allow your skin to breathe and that will wick away sweat. Check the label to see what material the brace is made of. Also, try stretching the brace to see how quickly it bounces back. You don’t want a brace that will stretch out during the day because you won’t get the support you need.
Choose a type of ankle support.
We already covered the main ankle support types in a previous blog, but here’s a quick refresher:
- Tape provides light, flexible support, but it stretches out quickly. Mastering the wrapping technique can be tricky.
- Ankle support socks are essentially compression sleeves for your foot. They can be used for minor sprains and to keep stiff joints warm.
- Semi-rigid braces limit both up-and-down and side-to-side motion and may be combined with a lace-up or figure-8 design for additional support.
- Hinged braces use rigid side supports attached to the heel part with a hinge. They constrain side-to-side motion while letting your foot tilt up and down freely.
- Rigid braces are the most restrictive of all and feature one continuous piece of plastic that keeps the foot from moving.
Try it on and adjust the fit.
Many ankle braces are based on shoe size, so take your measurements before buying. If you picked the right size but it still feels uncomfortable, adjust the brace by making it either tighter or looser, or by wearing a different sock or shoe with it. Once you’ve gotten everything adjusted, you should feel like the brace is secure enough to give you support, but not so tight that you’re in pain or that it’s cutting off your circulation.
If you’re in the market for ankle support but aren’t sure which one to choose, customer service representatives at Ames Walker is always happy to help guide you through your decision.
Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC Kaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She’s been working in the medical device industry for over 11 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Science Center.
Written April 2019 | Page Last Updated January 2022
Britannica. “Tarsal Bone” https://www.britannica.com/science/tarsal
Government of Alberta. “Applying a Compression Wrap for a Sprained Ankle” https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=zm2802