Ankle Braces & Supports For Sprains & Instability · Dunbar Medical (2024)

Ankle Braces & Supports For Sprains & Instability · Dunbar Medical (1)

How Do Ankle Braces Work?

Ankle Braces & Supports For Sprains & Instability · Dunbar Medical (2)click here to enlarge

Ankle injuries are among the most commonly experienced injuries in sports, particularly in activities requiring sudden sharp changes in speed or direction. These injuries typically result from forced lateral movement such as when landing awkwardly from a jump or losing your balance when running at high speed. Using a properly designed ankle brace will reduce the risk of these types of ankle injuries. An ankle brace will also help the patient maintain regular activities while recovering from an ankle injury.

The human foot is constructed with several internal supports that hold the bones together in their correct positions. These positions allow the foot to support the weight of the human body in the most effective way possible. These internal supports are the ligaments, tendons, muscles and other tissues that hold the bones together. They are normally sufficient to withstand the forces to which the foot may be subject when walking or standing normally.

However, for athletes and, in particular, athletes in contact sports or sports requiring sharp changes in direction of movement, the foot will regularly experience forces that are greater than normal and that may act in unusual directions. Ankle braces function as “external supports” that supplement the internal supports holding foot bones and other structures in their correct positions.

Three types of foot movement that can produce unusual forces on the foot for which the internal supports may not be enough are ankle inversion/ eversion and plantar flexion.

Ankle Inversion

Ankle Braces & Supports For Sprains & Instability · Dunbar Medical (3)click here to enlarge

An ankle inversion causes the foot to point inward and places abnormal stresses on the ligaments on the outside of the ankle (see image on the left). When these ligaments become overstretched or torn in response to this type of movement, you have what medical professionals call an inversion ankle sprain. This is actually the more common type of sprain. It can happen either during sporting activity or while performing everyday activities such as clearing snow or walking on an icy pavement.

Ankle Eversion

Under ankle eversion, the foot turns outward and unusual stress in placed on the ligaments on the inside of the foot. Tearing or overstretching these ligaments in response to such a movement results in an eversion ankle sprain. This type of injury tends to mainly happen to serious athletes.

Plantar Flexion

Under plantar flexion, the foot points downward away from the leg. This movement places unusual stresses on the ligaments on the top of the foot.

Ankle Braces As External Supports

Ankle braces serve to limit ankle inversion or eversion movements as well as plantar flexion.As a result, the wearer of such a brace has less risk of damaging foot ligaments as a result of these movements. For more information on how an ankle brace can be of use in preventing such injuries, please read our post on the benefits of using an ankle brace for sprains.

Types of Ankle Braces

When choosing your brace, you can select from a wide range of designs such as advanced or basic ankle supports, wraparound braces or rigid ankle braces. Each has a particular purpose, as explained below:

  • Ankle sleeves provide moderate compression and therapeutic warmth. They will help with stiff or sore ankles. However, they will not offer the support patients may need for protection from moderate or serious ankle sprains or instability.
  • Ankle braces with straps offer a higher level of support than ankle sleeves and will provide protection from mild to moderate ankle sprains and instability. They will also provide customizable compression.;
  • Stirrup ankle braces provide excellent lateral support to prevent ankle inversion or eversion sprains. They are generally useful for serious ankle sprains as well as post op recovery or rehabilitation;
  • Lace up ankle brace designs offer high levels of support and are a good choice for everyday (non sports) protection from ankle sprains.

In practice, many of the ankle braces available on the market are actually hybrid designs that incorporate features of two or more of the categories above.

Choosing The Right Ankle Brace

When choosing an ankle brace, we can offer the following general advice:

  • If you choose a brace with a lace-up design, make sure that the laces are not too long or short. Then you can tie them correctly;
  • Ensure that the brace has the right size. To ensure they perform as the manufacturers intended, there should be no gaps between your skin and your ankle support;
  • If you are wearing your brace for treatment of rehabilitation of an injury, be sure to wear it during everyday activities. Don’t wear it only during physically intensive activities;
  • You may be wearing your brace for preventative purposes. It is then particularly important to wear it while playing sports that involve lateral movement.

A healthcare professional will be able to advise on which of these situations applies to his or her patient.

Our selection of ankle braces is presented below. For information on how a brace can help an avid runner, please read our post on how an ankle brace for running can aid injury recovery. If you are an athlete in another sport and would like to know more about how an ankle brace can help you, you can read our post on the benefits of an ankle brace for athletes.

If you are not actively involved in sports but would like to understand how a brace can be of benefit during everyday activities, please read our post on the reasons to wear an ankle brace in Toronto.

Should you have any questions after reading these posts, our customer service personnel will be only too pleased to assist.

Ankle Braces & Supports For Sprains & Instability · Dunbar Medical (2024)


What is the difference between an ankle support and ankle stabilizer? ›

What is the difference between an ankle brace and ankle support? Typically an ankle brace is considered a more rigid device. An ankle support is softer and has more mobility. The long-term wearing of an ankle brace will weaken your ankle.

Do ankle braces help with stability? ›

Ankle braces primarily contributed to the stability of the ankle complex through passive, mechanical means.

What is a medical ankle brace? ›

Ankle braces serve as the external supports to limit certain motions, such as plantar flexion/inversion (movement at the ankle joint that points the foot downward away from the leg and turns the foot inward), and provide awareness of where your ankle joint is in space.

Is it better to wrap or brace a sprained ankle? ›

Most have shown that braces are slightly more effective than taping but that both are better than no support at all.

Do I wear ankle brace over or under sock? ›

If you wear an orthosis or brace on your feet, ankles or knees, you need to wear some sort of sock underneath it. The sock protects your skin, keeps your skin dry and helps prevent blisters or sores. For the best protection, wear a sock that extends past the top of your brace.

How many hours a day should you wear an ankle brace? ›

Wear in Schedule

Begin by wearing the brace two times for one hour the first day. Add one hour to each wearing period until you are comfortable wearing the brace full time during the day and do not experience any red marks or pressure sores on the skin.

Should I wear an ankle brace all day for a sprained ankle? ›

If you have a severe ankle sprain, your doctor or physio may advise that you wear your brace all day during the first few weeks. In all other cases, ankle braces only have to be worn when you do an activity that is likely to twist or roll the ankle.

Is a walking boot good for a sprained ankle? ›

If your sprain was significant, especially if it prompted you to see a health care professional, you may experience a slower, longer recovery that could include: A brief period of immobilization and nonweight-bearing with crutches or a knee scooter. One to two weeks of protected weight-bearing in a tall walking boot.

What happens if you wear an ankle brace for too long? ›

If you wear a rigid ankle brace that doesn't allow the ankle to move naturally, it can change your ankle mechanics by prohibiting natural movement. Your ankle area becomes out of balance, and in time, you may end up with a host of new problems caused by the rigid brace.

How do you fix chronic ankle instability? ›

Non-surgical treatment may include:
  1. Physical therapy. Physical therapy involves various treatments and exercises to strengthen the ankle, improve balance and range of motion, and retrain your muscles. ...
  2. Bracing. Some patients wear an ankle brace to gain support for the ankle and keep the ankle from turning. ...
  3. Medications.

How can I regain my ankle stability? ›

A simple ankle strengthening exercise is ankle dorsiflexion —the motion of bending your ankle up towards your shin. Making this motion can help you regain the ability to walk normally again. Straighten your knee. Moving only your ankle, point your foot back toward your nose.

What are the disadvantages of ankle braces? ›

Besides restricting inversion and eversion, it is possible that an ankle brace also reduces the functional range of motion of the ankle joint. Consequently, their use could also impair athletic performance.

What is the difference between an ankle sleeve and an ankle brace? ›

Ankle braces come in many varieties, including sleeves, braces with straps and lace up: Ankle Sleeves are made of neoprene or knit fabric, and are designed to provide a primary level of protection along with moderate compression.

What type of ankle brace do I need? ›

Moderate / Maximum Support

With previous ankle sprains or second to third-degree sprains, a moderate or maximum support ankle brace will provide the stability necessary. It will allow no impediment of movement as you heal and provide support through activities.

What does an ankle stabilizer do? ›

An ankle brace is a piece of protective orthopaedic equipment that provides support for the ankle, speeds healing, and prevents injury or re-injury. Lightweight and composed of fabric, plastic, and sometimes metal components, modern braces fit easily and comfortably around the affected limb.

What are ankle stabilizers used for? ›

Wearing an ankle brace can provide support for your foot and ankle. This support can help to reduce pain and prevent further injury. Ankle braces are often used to treat chronic conditions such as tendonitis, arthritis, and instability.

What is an ankle stabiliser? ›

Adjustable Ankle Stabiliser. The Elastoplast Adjustable Ankle Stabiliser provides rigid support and stabilisation for stiff, weak or injured ankles. Reinforced side stabilisers prevent unwanted lateral motion, giving ankles the support they need to rest and recover.

When should I wear an ankle stabilizer? ›

Moderate or Medium Support Ankle Braces are for those who have experienced a Second Degree Sprain and are more active in sports with lateral or side to side movements. Moderate supports can also be used as a preventative brace to help avoid injuries.

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