Accessories

Guide to Finding the Best Ankle Braces for Running

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It may seem that running and walking is a risk-free sport and activity. However, this is simply not true. In fact, there are many different areas, especially in the foot region, that are at risk when a runner is exercising. The most common injury that people equate with running is their ankle or leg. If you can imagine, it’s quite easy to misstep into a small hole on the sidewalk or trip over a shoelace.

Like any other sport and exercise, it’s important that you are prepared and taking preventative measures. If you are a serious runner or have experienced an ankle sprain or strain before, perhaps its time to consider purchasing an ankle brace. These products have been proved to help provide the stability and control needed to perform at peak performance, risk-free. In this article, we are going to share with you our guide to finding the best ankle brace for running alongside some tips and tricks to help keep you running longer.

Sprains vs. Strains

Typically, people that are in the market for an ankle brace recently underwent an ankle injury. As a result, runners seek the extra support and stability that an ankle brace provides to reduce the pain of a sprain or strain. In picking out an ankle brace, it may prove beneficial to understand the difference between a sprain and strain, as that will have an influence on the product you choose.

  • Sprains

When a runner suffers from an ankle sprain, there is a problem happening with the ligament in their ankle. Simply, a ligament is a part of the ankle where a collection of tissue works together to connect two bones with a joint. Typically, a runner may tear or stretch a ligament, which can be incredibly painful.

  • Strains

The other type of ankle injury that a runner may experience is an ankle strain. This injury pertains more with the actual muscle and the tendons in the ankle. Ankle strains are not as common; however, they do happen. They act similar to a sprain, without the major swelling.

In many causes, runners can avoid ankle injuries by simply being proactive and understanding how their ankle is feeling. We have created a small list of 10 different tips to help keep you running longer and avoid experiencing any future ankle injuries.

How to Avoid Sprains and Strains

  • Purchase an ankle brace.
  • Do not perform rigorous exercise if your ankle is hurting.
  • Include more healthy items into your everyday diet.
  • Secure a minimum of 8 hours rest daily.
  • Drink water every day.
  • Stretch twice a day.
  • Ensure running or walking shoes are durable, sturdy, and comfortable.
  • Research surrounding area before any exercise to minimize risks.
  • Try to balance a healthy weight.
  • Purchase better and more supportive insoles

The Importance of Ankle Braces

For frequent and avid runners or walkers, ankle braces are an essential component that should always compliment daily exercise. Whether you have injured your ankle before or not, there are many benefits and uses to using an ankle brace. The rule of thumb in the running industry is if you are doing strenuous exercise, shifting weight frequently from one ankle to the other, an ankle brace is vital to minimize the risks or damage to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

Here are three important uses of an ankle brace:

  • Support

The main purpose and use of an ankle brace are for support. This goes for both runners with an injury, and without. By wearing an ankle brace, it can reinforce the structure of the ankle and its ligaments and muscles to ensure comfortable and optimal movement. Additionally, for those who injured ankles, ankle braces can help provide the support needed to help the area in the region to heal.

  • Reduce Pain

Many runners can attest to having rolled their ankle. If you have not, this is one of the most painful experiences. Typically, when a runner injures their ankle in this manner, they visit the doctor who will suggest wearing an ankle brace. Reason being, this product can help ease any pain and reduce the swelling.

  • Avoid Future Injuries

Ankle braces are also great for helping avoid any future injuries. Whether you are prone to ankle injuries, have sensitive tendons or ligaments, or are simply seeking to be proactive, an ankle brace is a cost-effective solution to support and strengthen your ankle. Today, companies have created multiple different versions of ankle braces to help athletes and hobbyists use one on a daily basis.

The Variety of Ankle Braces

Not every single ankle injury is the same; therefore, not every single ankle brace can be the same. Today, companies have designed a wide variety of ankle braces to help match the individual needs of each injury. In efforts to make finding the best ankle brace for running easier, we have broken down the variety of ankle braces into four different categories.

  • Lace-Up Braces

Lace-Up Braces a great option for people that are seeking a lightweight and easy-to-use brace. These are typically used by athletes and hobbyists who have experienced a mild sprain or strain. In other words, this is the most primitive ankle brace on the market. Lace-Up Braces are adjustable and provide a nice, snug comfort that fit with any traditional shoe.

  • Mild Support Ankle Braces

Mild Support Ankle Braces are for runners who have undergone a more significant ankle sprain or strain. These products are designed to empower the ankle region of a runner, providing greater stability and support. There are two different forms of these braces: wraparounds and sleeves.

  • Moderate to Maximum Support Ankle Braces

The most common used ankle braces in the industry today are known as the moderate to maximum support ankle braces. These provide athletes with the best support and protection while also enabling them to perform at near peak performances. These braces are like that of lace-up braces; however, they provide better mobility and support to prevent any ankle rolls or injuries of the such.

  • Full Shell Braces

The most protective ankle brace is more formally called a Full Shell Boot, or Full Shell Brace. This protective brace has a unique rocker sole, which is designed to minimize the amount of pressure needed when walking. Typically, these braces are given by doctors to patients who have experienced a severe ankle or foot injury.

Factors to Consider When Picking Ankle Braces

With the basis of information covered thus far, you have a better understanding of the industry and what type of products are out there. Moving forward, it’s important to be aware of this information because many runners end up purchasing the wrong ankle brace for their need or desire.

Now, we are going to share with you some of the most important factors to consider when shopping around for the best ankle brace.

  • Breathability

When picking out an ankle brace, it’s important to look for the details surrounding the breathability. A great ankle brace should provide enough ventilation for the ankle so that it does not sweat or hold moisture. If you happen to purchase one that causes your ankle to sweat, you will want to return it. Otherwise, you may get blisters or notice a strong stench from the brace. Many braces will come with a great breathable mesh material, which is a great start. Try to find an ankle brace that supports and markets a breathable brace.

  • Protection

The single most important factor to take into consideration when picking an ankle brace is the protection. The whole purpose and use behind one of these products to help support and protect a runner’s ankle. A high-quality brace should come with numerous support and protection features. It’s recommended to measure what the outsole is made from, how the upper is designed, and how the entire brace fits with your ankle. A rule of thumb is to make sure that the ankle brace can cover your entire ankle. You should be able to wrap it loosely, or tightly, for maximum protection and support.

  • Materials

If you are not careful when finding the best ankle brace, you might find yourself with a product that gives blisters and a horrid odor. With that being said, take the time to evaluate what type of materials the manufacturer used in creating the product. You want to stay keen and look for products built with comfortable materials, padded cushioning, or neoprene.

  • Durability

If we can be honest, there are many different ankle braces at the store that are incredibly cheap and are poorly designed. It’s important to look for products that boast durability and longevity. Typically, an ankle brace is a product that you want to last a long time. So, we recommend purchasing a brace that is designed for all climates and weather circumstances. You would not want your brace to break after walking in one rainstorm, right? At the same time, keep your eyes peeled for companies that offer some form of a guarantee. This is an added cushion, on top of the brace itself.

  • Flexibility

If you are looking for an ankle brace to help support your current running and walking habits, you are going to want a product that will not hinder your performance, making flexibility and important component to consider. As a rule of thumb, a good brace should not be too tight on the ankle, or too loose. While it’s nice to have a snug fit, if the brace is too tight, it may hinder blood circulation, which can be entirely counterproductive. If the brace is too loose, you will have minimal support and an increased risk of injury.

  • Ease of Use

The last factor to take into consideration when finding the best ankle brace for running is the ease of use. There are many products on the market that are slip-on braces, wrap-ups, and there are others that are lace-ups. You do not want to purchase a brace that is going to be difficult or take time to put on.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use an ankle brace if you have circulation problems?

Runners can use an ankle brace regardless if they have circulation problems. However, it’s important to make that the forefront of your decision. In this industry, there is a wide spectrum of products, all catered to helping specific ankle issues or ailments. For a runner with circulation problems, try to stay clear of wraps or straps – stick with lace-up braces. This gives the runner the chance to adjust the tightness of the product, which can help with circulation.

  • What should I look out for on the packaging before making a purchase?

When on the search for the best ankle brace, it’s important to read the packaging and label before making a purchase. What many people do not realize is that, when purchasing an ankle brace, you are only purchasing a brace for one ankle, not both. It’s rare that you will find a product that offers a brace for both ankles. Additionally, you must look at what foot the brace was made for. If you are experiencing discomfort on your left foot, you should look for an ankle brace for that foot.

  • Does wearing an ankle brace weaken the ankle region?

To the surprise of many runners, yes. Wearing an ankle brace has its benefits for the time being; however, over the course of time, the ankle region will begin to weaken. However, this is why many doctors or physical therapists will have runners perform different stretches and exercises that will help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the ankle. Do keep in mind, if you only use an ankle brace for running, you should not notice any major negative changes like this.

  • Can an ankle brace help with flat feet?

Yes, an ankle brace can help with flat feet. It’s important to keep in mind though that there are different variations of flat feet, like that of ankle braces. With that being said, you should not purchase an ankle brace thinking it’s going to cure or remove flat feet. If you are seeking a specific ankle brace to help with flat feet, it’s advised to visit a professional who can find a customize brace for you.

  • Is an ankle brace only for running?

No. Ankle braces can be used and intertwine with different sports and everyday living. In fact, these products are best used in any physical activity where there is extensive weight distribution from one ankle to the other. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, the more that you use an ankle brace, the muscles will begin to weaken. It’s advised to only use a brace during the time of exercise or if the ankle is in pain. If you are finding yourself using a brace more than desired, it may prove beneficial to call a specialist.

Top-Rated Ankle Braces for Running

At this point in the article, you have a much better understanding of the ankle brace industry, including the types of injuries, braces, and the top features to look out for when finding the best ankle brace. To make your research process even easier, we are going to share with you the top-rated ankle braces for running that are worth your consideration.

ASO Stabilizer

According to many people who have used ankle braces, the ASO Stabilizer is a great option that many professional athletes even use. What really sets this product aside from others is the great infusion of comfortability and supportive features. For beginners, this product comes with something known as CoolFlex. This material helps keep the ankle stabilized at all times, while also providing an added layer of comfort. Out of the many different ankle braces, this is a great option for those that are seeking to maintain running, while also taking care of their ankle.

PROS

  • Ankle brace is made in the United States of America.
  • The nylon boot shell gives the runner an added level of protection.
  • Unique cuff enclosures help secure the runner that no lace or strap will come undone.
  • Size the product is quite small and low in nature, it’s a great fit for any shoe.

CONS

  • The ordering sizes are not true to size, making it difficult to figure out what size is best for a consumer.

McDavid 195 Brace with Stabilizer Straps

If you have never purchased or researched ankle braces before, McDavid is probably one of the most notable brands on the market. Their 195 Brace with Stabilizer Straps can make a significant difference for a runner that is experience mild discomfort or recently underwent an ankle injury. This specific product shines in the stability department, providing runners with great protection and security

PROS

  • This ankle brace is made from lightweight materials.
  • There are a variety of size options, making it easy to find the best fit.
  • Provides the support needed to help accelerate healing and continue moving.
  • Help provide control over weight distribution.

CONS

The lacing system may be uncomfortable after hours of use.
The product is not sold true to size – it runs smaller than marketed.

Senteq Sleeve

Sometimes a bulkier ankle brace is counterproductive to the cause and need. Senteq created the Sleeve in efforts to minimize any discomfort caused by large, strap-based braces. This is probably one of the smallest products on the market, with no straps, laces, or wrap arounds. This brace is made from a unique material that doubles in compression and stabilization. In other words, this slip-on brace can help keep an ankle in place to avoid any minor strains or sprains.

PROS

  • Great for people that are suffering from ankle or foot ailments like plantar fasciitis.
  • Easy fit, especially when wearing socks and shoes.
  • Built with breathable mesh, which helps to minimize any build up of moisture and odors.
  • Certified by the FDA.

CONS

  • Given the structure and build of this brace, it does not provide as much protection or support as plastic/metal-based braces.
  • Will not last as long as other braces.

Final Thoughts

Like many other supports, runners are at a frequent risk of ankle injuries. So much so that this injury has become a common ailment and anticipated by many runners. In fact, according to the ACSM, “25,000 Americans suffer from an ankle sprain each day.” If you do the math, that’s over 9 million ankle injuries each year. A runner’s best defense against rolling or twisting their ankle is a high-quality and stable ankle brace.
We hope that this guide will help you on your journey to finding the best ankle braces for running. Be sure to stay keen on the many different features and components of a brace to ensure the high-quality product.
This way you can stay on your feet and run better, harder, and longer.

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