In the 1990’s athletic trainers were spending considerable time and money taping the ankles of their players – a practice that some are still dedicated to today. During this time, lace-up ankle braces were introduced to reduce cost and save time, acting as essentially a reusable tape job that the athlete could apply themselves. As a result, lace-ups became popular as a low-cost alternative to taping the ankle. Now, lace-up style braces are inexpensive and readily available at all sporting goods stores – but are they the best option to protect your ankle from potential injuries?

Lace-Up Ankle Braces Lose Support Rapidly

When we are at sports tournaments, we hear the same thing over and over from athletes, “why do I keep spraining my ankle if I wear a lace-up or tape my ankle?” Both tape and lace-ups feel so tight when you first apply them that you think, “wow, this is really going to support my ankle!” Then 30 minutes into a game you land on another player’s foot and sustain a grade 2 ankle injury. All that support that was felt when you first applied the brace is gone.

Some studies have shown that tape loses 70% of its effectiveness in the first 15 minutes of activity. The reason for this is that tape restricts the natural up and down movement of the ankle that is needed to run and jump. By restricting the natural joint movement, tape loses support rapidly. The same logic can be applied to a lace-up brace acting as a reusable tape job – during activity it quickly stretches out and loosens as any fabric would, greatly reducing the level of support it can provide.

You’re Basically Binding Up Your Joint

Ankle taping and lace-up ankle braces restrict the natural up and down movement of the ankle which is needed to perform at the highest level and keep your muscles strong. If the goal is to jump the highest or run the fastest,
the last thing you would want is something that binds, or ties, up your
ankle and restricts the very motion you need to perform.

We would never restrict knee or elbow range of motion with a brace during athletic activity, so why would we want to restrict the ankle?

Better Alternatives

Ankle braces are no different than any other product in the sense that you get what you pay for. If you feel you must wear a lace-up because of the feel of the brace or that it is low profile in the shoe, we suggest our Ultra 360 Lace-Up™. It will provide a mild support level while still maintaining moderate mobility.

A better solution for everyday use to help prevent an ankle injury is a hinged ankle brace. Our hinged Ultra Zoom® ankle brace allows you to move in all the natural ways and none of the bad ones. You’ll play better and play more, losing less time to injuries.

If you have any questions about ankle braces, including more info on transitioning to a new brace from your lace-up, send our certified athletic trainers a message. We’re here to help you make the best ankle brace decision for your situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries