The ankle brace has been around since 1887 when it laced up like the corsets of the time. A hundred years later, technology had vastly improved with stirrups and hinged braces. By the Nineties, they were all over the place due to not only improved designs but it was less expensive than getting one’s ankle taped.
They’re even more ubiquitous now, coming in sports-specific designs and detachable shells. Perhaps you are in a situation where you need an ankle brace. You’d like to know how and when to wear one. Keep reading!
What Is The Point Of An Ankle Brace?
The purpose of an ankle brace is to protect the ankle or to immobilize it while allowing it to heal from a minor injury such as a sprain. Along with stability, the brace provides heat and compression. They are typically made of neoprene and nylon. The lacing fastener has long since given way to a hook and loop fastener. They are often used in sports where ankles are put under stress.
Ankle Braces Vs. Ankle Supports
It’s a very slight difference, but it’s a difference worth knowing about. They are both used to ease pain and aid in the rehabilitation of injury. They can also be used to support the foot for the prevention of an injury from taking place. Unlike braces, ankle supports don’t offer immobilization of the ankle. This makes ankle supports more suitable for preventing injury rather than injury recovery. Ankle support is better than a brace for consistent use. The brace should only be used when recovering from an injury.
Do I Wear Ankle Brace Over Or Under Sock?
This, along with whether to wear ankle braces at all, is a hotly debated topic. The manufacturer recommends wearing it under the sock to reap the most benefits from compression and heat retention as well as support and stability. If it is uncomfortable, perhaps you can wear it over a thin sock and wear an athletic sock over it.
How To Wear Ankle Support With Socks?
An athletic sock is recommended. Not only are they the proper length but are made of synthetic material that will wick moisture away. Different supports will have different methods of putting them on. Follow those instructions.
How Tight Should Ankle Support Be?
An ankle brace must be just tight enough to restrict motion but it should not be so tight that it cuts off circulation. It is possible to check one’s circulation by pinching the nail of the big toe and seeing if that color quickly returns to the nail. If it feels uncomfortable, it is probably too tight.
How Do You Measure Ankle Support?
You might want to use the two-finger method. Fasten the straps and slide two fingers under it. If the two fingers will not fit, it is too tight. If it feels like you can fit a third finger in there, it is too loose. Adjust accordingly. Do this for every strap on your brace. Try walking around. The point of a brace is to walk with no pain. If there is pain, you are not getting the right amount of support.
How Do You Wrap An Ankle For Support?
Ankles can be wrapped for compression or support. Compression will relieve swelling but it will not provide support. If you want support, taping the ankle is recommended. This particular technique prevents lateral ankle ligament sprains:
- First, attach anchors and then stirrups. Generally, three stirrups are attached from the inside to outside in a horseshoe-shaped formation.
- Bind the tape in two figure-sixes around the foot, beginning from the inside to the outside, coming back to the inside after crossing the front of the foot. Figure-sixes help counteract the inversion motions that can cause injury.
- Apply a half-heel lock to offer more support to the rear ankle area. Start on the inside of the lower leg and move down and across the outside of the ankle towards the front of the heel.
- Pass the tape under the foot and cross the inside of the heel at a forty-five-degree angle. Pass the tape back towards the outside of the ankle to end on the inside of the lower leg where you began.
- Wrap the tape over with a fifty-millimeter Elastic Adhesive Bandage to deliver mild compression and to more secure the taped area.
Should I Wear Ankle Support When Running?
Should you happen to have ankles that roll easily you may move on to lace-up ankle brace over your sock and inside your shoe. Another option is to move on to minimally shod footwear and carefully learn to run with a little less support but perhaps with more feedback to your brain. Also, make sure your ankles are warmed up before running and frequently do a range of motion exercises.
Can You Wear Shoes With Ankle Brace?
It is highly recommended. In fact, the brace is ineffective without proper footwear. Said shoes must be supportive and sturdy. Slippers would be inappropriate. Loafers and most sandals won’t cut it either. The brace can be modified to fit most other casual shoes, however.
How To Wear An Ankle Brace With Shoes?
First, the ankle brace should not be too thick. Try it on before you buy to see if it fits comfortably. Your shoes should not be too rigid. They should be rather flexible. You may need to go up a size for them to fit comfortably. Sneakers are the best shoe to wear with a brace. Laces can be loosened or tightened as needed.
Should I Wear An Ankle Brace To Bed?
It is likely unnecessary. How much support do you need to lay there and do nothing? If you’re recovering from a bad sprain you might want to keep the compression bandages on while you sleep. Put the brace back on in the morning. If you’re a very light sleeper, often need to pay a visit to Uncle John or a bit of a somnambulist, you may want to keep the brace on.
How Long Do You Have To Wear An Ankle Brace?
That depends on the severity of the sprain. Generally, you will need to wear it for two to six weeks. Your doctor will tell you how long you have to wear the bandages based on just how bad the sprain was. There are three grades of sprain severity:
- Grade 1 This is a mild sprain; very common. This means the ligament was just stretched but not torn. It is accompanied by minor pain and stiffness.
- Grade 2 This is a moderate sprain caused by at least partial tearing in one or two ligaments. This comes with severe swelling and moderate pain.
- Grade 3 This is a severe sprain where one or more ligaments are completely torn. The ankle is unstable and extremely painful. The ankle may be completely immobile.
In any case, a sprain should be treated with RICE. That means rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Do this until your sprain heals.
Can You Wear An Ankle Brace All Day?
You should wear your ankle brace any time you are doing something that requires ankle stability. You can take it off while resting or doing any work that requires sitting down but be ready to put it back on if you need to get up. The brace should not feel uncomfortable while at rest, however.
How Often Should You Replace Ankle Braces?
The typical ankle brace lasts about as long as a pair of shoes. It is highly recommended that you replace a sports ankle brace every six months or so should you use it on a regular basis. The more use you get out of your ankle brace, the shorter its lifespan will be.
What Is The Best Brace For A Sprained Ankle?
A mild support ankle brace is the best choice for people who are dealing with chronic ankle instability after sustaining an injury or are searching for some support for mild ankle sprains. These usually come in either the form of sleeves or wrap-arounds that offer compression and stability as you go about your daily business.
Does Wearing An Ankle Brace Weaken The Ankle?
Short answer: No. Long answer: Ankle bracelets by themselves do not cause muscle weakness. Completely immobilizing the ankle can lead to weakness and that is not what a brace does. What’s more, most people only wear them while playing sports.
There is no empirical evidence that ankle muscles become weaker after wearing an ankle brace during an athletic season. While there may be some evidence of delayed activation of muscles connected to the wearing of an ankle brace, research has found no effect on muscle activation associated with prolonged use.
Do Ankle Braces Help Sprains?
A brace can help because it supports the ankle without completely immobilizing it. It reduces strains on the healing tissue while allowing the foot to bear weight. What kind of brace you get will be based on the severity of the sprain.
Do Ankle Braces Cause Knee Injuries?
Studies do show that bracing the ankle causes an increase in the knee axial rotation. However, no evidence has been found of an increased knee injury while wearing ankle braces during the season.
What Is A Figure 8 Ankle Brace?
This is a type of brace that delivers ankle support for sprains and strains plus chronic ankle instabilities. It also offers protection from inversion and eversion ankle injuries. You can buy a readymade figure 8 brace or wind your own with compression bandages. If support is what you need, then you may want to try the figure eight technique. Here is what you do:
- Start at the forefoot.
- Wind the bandage diagonally upwards, steeply enough so that it goes well above the heel.
- Go around the lower calf.
- Form an anchor.
- Go diagonally down across the midfoot.
- Go around the forefoot again.
- Finish by going diagonally up to end around the lower calf, which should leave the heel open.
Are Lace-Up Ankle Braces Good?
They’re not the best, particularly for serious athletes. That resists the natural ankle range of motion very quickly. They are not very supportive in the long run. The lace-up is a choice for people with mild sprains and low activity levels. For serious athletes, the hinged brace is the better choice.
What Are The Best Shoes For Ankle Support?
There are many things you should look for when searching for a shoe that gives good ankle support. Look for the following traits in a shoe:
- Midsole It must be soft and cushioned.
- Footbed It must be solid.
- Lacing It must be able to hug your ankles tightly.
There are many other traits you should be looking for, but these are the most important.
Are High Top Shoes Better For Ankles?
High tops are great for active movement and prevention of ankle sprains. However, keep the above-mentioned tips in mind as well.
Do Boots Provide Ankle Support?
Not necessarily. They put a lot of weight on the feet. They don’t really allow your muscles to flex. They also tire out your feet by making your footwork clumsier.
How Long After Sprained Ankle Can I Wear Heels?
It depends on the severity of the sprain. In any case, you should wait until you are fully healed to be heeled. (bad pun is bad.)
How To Strengthen Ankles To Prevent Sprains?
Anything that improves your balance or strengthens your core can prevent sprains. There are leg exercises that build up ankle strength. Flexibility training can reduce injury. Gradually build up your exercise regimen so you don’t put on too much stress at once. And, of course, tape and ankle braces play their role.
If your doctor says you need an ankle brace, go ahead and wear one. Just use a little common sense and listen to your body. Remember to wear proper shoes and socks as well.