Ankle osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating condition that can significantly impact one’s quality of life by limiting mobility and causing chronic pain. This blog post aims to educate you about ankle OA, its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options, with a focus on how the Ultra Ankle® Ultra CTS® ankle brace can provide relief.

What is Ankle Osteoarthritis and What Causes It?

Ankle osteoarthritis is a form of degenerative joint disease where the articular cartilage in the ankle wears away, leading to bone-on-bone irritation. This condition can arise from various causes (Arthritis Foundation):

  • Previous Injuries: Trauma such as ankle sprains or fractures often leads to OA as the joint deteriorates over time.
  • Wear and Tear: Natural aging and repetitive use can erode the cartilage, making the condition more prevalent in older adults.
  • Excess Weight: There is an additional four pounds of pressure on the ankle joint for each extra pound of body weight.
  • Underlying Conditions: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can also contribute to the development of OA.

Arthritis of ankle . X-ray of foot . Lateral view . Invert color

Symptoms of Ankle Osteoarthritis

Individuals with ankle OA may experience variations of the condition. (Penn Medicine).

  • Inflammation and swelling around the ankle joint.
  • Pain and stiffness in the ankle during activity or motion.
  • Swelling in the joint accompanied by warmth and redness.
  • Discomfort when standing, walking, or bearing weight.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Ankle Osteoarthritis

Effective management of ankle OA involves several treatment modalities:

  • Activity Modification: Altering daily activities to lessen ankle joint pain and swelling.
  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce joint swelling and alleviate pain (NYU Langone Health).
  • Physical Therapy: Engaging in physical therapy can assist in reducing inflammation and restoring range of motion (Total Performance Physical Therapy).
  • Ankle Braces: Specialized ankle braces are recommended to reduce weight-bearing pain and prevent excessive movement that can exacerbate joint deterioration (National Library of Medicine).

The Ultra CTS® Ankle Brace: A Solution for OA Pain

The Ultra Ankle Ultra CTS ankle brace is uniquely designed to aid individuals suffering from ankle osteoarthritis. It offers a multi-faceted approach to managing OA pain:

  • Impact Absorption: The Ultra CTS ankle brace reduces bone-on-bone irritation by absorbing a portion of the impact generated from standing or walking. This absorbed impact is then redirected to the lower leg, effectively unloading the ankle joint and minimizing joint irritation and pain.
  • Ankle Stabilization: By providing firm support to the lower leg and ankle, the Ultra CTS helps prevent excessive movement that can lead to further joint damage. This stability is crucial in managing OA pain and preventing additional injuries.

Encouraging Mobility: Unlike rigid braces, the Ultra CTS features a hinge that allows for full up-and-down ankle motion, promoting muscle strength and joint flexibility. Maintaining mobility is essential in preventing the ankle from becoming stiff and weak (Athlete Restoration Co.).

ultra-cts-ankle-brace-osteorthritis

The Ultra CTS as an Effective Alternative to Ankle Fusion

Ankle fusion is a surgical procedure often recommended for severe cases of ankle osteoarthritis. While it can provide significant pain relief, it permanently reduces ankle movement, which can lead to a loss of mobility and affect the patient’s overall quality of life. The Ultra CTS ankle brace offers a non-surgical alternative with several advantages:

  • Preserves Mobility: Unlike ankle fusion, the Ultra CTS maintains full ankle range of motion, allowing for natural movement and reducing the risk of muscle atrophy and joint stiffness (Symmetry Physical Therapy).
  • Reduces Pain and Irritation: By unloading the ankle joint, the brace decreases bone-on-bone pain and minimizes joint irritation, offering significant pain relief without the need for invasive surgery.
  • Non-Invasive Solution: The Ultra CTS provides a non-surgical option that avoids the risks and recovery time associated with ankle fusion surgery. This makes it a suitable choice for those seeking to manage their OA symptoms conservatively.

Conclusion

Ankle osteoarthritis can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right treatment approach, including the use of the Ultra Ankle® Ultra CTS ankle brace, individuals can may find relief from pain and improve their quality of life. The Ultra CTS brace not only reduces bone-on-bone irritation but also stabilizes the ankle and maintains natural movement, making it a comprehensive solution for those suffering from ankle OA. Additionally, it may serves as an effective alternative to ankle fusion, preserving mobility and providing pain relief without invasive surgery.

If you have any questions about ankle braces for your ankle osteoarthritis, please send a message to one of our certified athletic trainers.

Volleyball players are known for their dynamic jumps, quick pivots, and intense gameplay, making them particularly susceptible to ankle injuries. Ankle braces have emerged as essential gear for athletes aiming to mitigate this risk. Here’s why ankle braces are crucial for volleyball players.

Why Are Ankle Injuries Common in Volleyball?

Ankle injuries are the most common injury in volleyball, accounting for a significant portion of the sport’s injuries. These typically occur during jumps, especially at the net, when a player lands on another player’s foot, causing the ankle to twist unnaturally. The repetitive nature of the sport, involving constant jumping and quick directional changes, puts additional strain on the ankles, increasing the likelihood of injuries like sprains and strains​ (Performance Health)​​ (Children’s Hospital Colorado)​.

volleyball-ankle-braces

How Do Ankle Braces Help Prevent These Injuries?

Ankle braces are designed to provide stability and support, reducing the risk of injuries by limiting excessive movement that could lead to ankle sprains. Studies have shown that using ankle braces can significantly decrease both first-time and recurrent ankle injuries. They help maintain proper alignment and absorb the impact of jumps and rapid movements, which are common in volleyball​ (UPMC | Life Changing Medicine)​. One ankle brace, the Ultra Zoom® by Ultra Ankle®, stands out as an industry leader in not only helping to prevent ankle injuries, but also allowing the athlete to maintain their ankle’s natural range of motion and not limiting performance.

ultra-zoom-white-volleyball-ankle-brace-for-performance

Benefits of Using the Ultra Zoom® Ankle Brace

  1. Injury Prevention: The Ultra Zoom® ankle brace offers a hinged-cuff design that provides superior support without restricting the natural range of motion. This design helps prevent both low and high ankle injuries by stabilizing the ankle during dynamic movements​ (Ivy Rehab)​.
  2. Enhanced Performance: By providing confidence and stability, the Ultra Zoom® brace allows players to perform at their best. Athletes can push their limits on the court without the constant fear of ankle injuries, thus enhancing overall performance. The Ultra Zoom® allows athletes to play better and play more, losing less time to ankle injuries.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Investing in a high-quality ankle brace like the Ultra Zoom® is cost-effective compared to the potential medical expenses and lost playtime associated with ankle injuries. This preventive measure is a wise investment for long-term health and performance​ (Volleyball Gear Guide)​.

Do Ankle Braces Affect Knee Health?

Some athletes worry that restricting ankle movement might increase the risk of knee injuries. However, evidence suggests that while ankle braces limit movements that could lead to ankle injuries, they do not increase the risk of knee injuries. Properly designed braces like the Ultra Zoom® provide a balance between support and mobility, ensuring overall lower limb safety​ (Ivy Rehab)​​ (UPMC | Life Changing Medicine)​.

How Does Investing in an Ankle Brace Compare to Potential Medical Costs?

The cost of an ankle brace is minor compared to the potential medical costs incurred from an ankle injury. Ankle injuries can lead to expensive treatments, including physical therapy and surgery, not to mention the lost time from sports and other activities. Using a preventive measure like the Ultra Zoom® ankle brace can save significant costs and ensure that players remain active and healthy​ (Children’s Hospital Colorado)​.

Icing Broken, Fractured or Sprained Foot or Ankle in Cast or Compression Wrap

Conclusion

Ankle braces, particularly the Ultra Zoom®, are essential for volleyball players. They offer injury prevention, enhance performance, and are cost-effective. By incorporating ankle braces into their gear, players can safeguard their health while elevating their game. Embrace the power of prevention and play confidently with the Ultra Zoom® ankle brace.

The ankle remains the primary site of injury in high school, collegiate and professional basketball for both genders. Regardless of an athlete’s physical conditioning, preventing ankle injuries remains challenging. Such injuries often happen in scenarios where players go up for a rebound and land on another player’s foot, or they are cutting to the basket and mistakenly step off another player’s shoe. These contacts can lead to the common inversion ankle sprain, which occurs when the ankle is forced to rotate excessively inward.

types-of-ankle-sprains

Understanding Inversion Ankle Sprains

Inversion ankle sprains can stretch and sometimes tear the ligaments holding the ankle joint together, leading to extended bench time that could range from a few days to weeks, depending on the injury’s severity. Even after resting to allow the ankle to heal, the ligaments remain somewhat stretched, making the ankle loose and unstable and prone to future ankle injuries. This cycle of recurring ankle injuries can be interrupted or slowed down by wearing a preventive ankle brace.

The Role of Preventive Ankle Braces

The term “Preventive Ankle Brace” means wearing an ankle brace during every practice and game to help prevent ankle injuries or lessen the severity should an injury occur. The right ankle brace should be determined by evaluating the athlete’s injury history and the type of basketball shoe worn.

The Importance of Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes play a vital role in how an ankle brace fits and feels. Some basketball shoe designs will dictate the type of ankle brace needed as not all ankle braces will fit in every basketball shoe.

There are basically two types of basketball shoe designs:

     1. Traditional Tongue and Laces: These shoes allow the laces to spread out enough to fit the ankle brace inside the shoe. They offer the best fit for any type of brace.

dropset-2.0-earth-training-shoes

     2. Sleeve or Collar Design: These shoes lack a traditional tongue, making the opening much smaller and very difficult to fit the ankle brace inside. Depending on your ankle injury history, you must first determine the type of ankle brace you need and then select the style of basketball shoe that fits best with that ankle brace.

crazyflight-mid-shoes-white-no-tongue

Evaluating Injury History and Ankle Brace Type

1-3 Previous Ankle Injuries: For athletes with 1-3 previous minor ankle injuries, an entry-level ankle brace made with fabric that laces up, called Lace-Ups, might suffice. Lace-Ups with figure-8 straps are preferred as they wrap around the ankle similarly to a tape job performed by an athletic trainer. Think of Lace-Up braces as a reusable tape job that can be applied before every practice and game, eliminating the need for an athletic trainer.

Pros of Lace-Up Ankle Braces:

  • Inexpensive and readily available online or at sporting goods stores.
  • Low profile, fitting in any style of basketball shoe.

Cons of Lace-Up Ankle Braces:

  • Restrict natural up-and-down ankle movement, which is crucial for running and jumping.
  • Fabric stretches out, migrates, and loses support rapidly during athletic activity.

Ultra Ankle® offers a Lace-Up ankle brace called the Ultra 360®. The Ultra 360® locks your ankle in place while the figure-8 straps provide 360º of support to help prevent excessive ankle rolling. Its multi-adjustable design allows you to customize your level of support.

ultra-360-white-ankle-brace-for-ankle-injury-prevention

4-5 Previous Ankle Injuries: For athletes with 4-5 previous ankle injuries, including one or more grade 2-3 injuries, more support is required. Plastic hinged ankle braces offer a structurally sound design and additional support needed for unstable ankles.

Pros of Plastic Hinged Ankle Braces:

  • Move with the natural up-and-down movement of the ankle, not restricting performance, speed, agility, or vertical jump.
  • Straps stay securely in place, maintaining long-lasting support throughout a practice or game.

Cons of Plastic Hinged Ankle Braces:

  • Larger than fabric ankle braces, requiring more room in the shoe.
  • May take a few practices to break in and become comfortable.

Ultra Ankle® offers a plastic hinged-cuff ankle brace called the Ultra Zoom®. The Ultra Zoom® has a soft, flexible Performathane® shell that uses body heat to form a custom fit to the ankle for comfortable, long-lasting support. Its hinge design allows for natural ankle range of motion to enhance performance and keep muscles strong. The Ultra Zoom® is our preferred basketball ankle brace with exceptional durability to last multiple seasons. A full ONE YEAR warranty on every component.

Ultra Zoom black ankle brace for ankle injury prevention and recovery

Conclusion

Selecting the right ankle brace involves considering both the injury history and the type of basketball shoe. By understanding the benefits and limitations of each type of brace, athletes can make informed decisions to protect their ankles and enhance their performance on the court. At Ultra Ankle®, we are committed to providing high-quality performance ankle braces designed to meet the needs of basketball players at all levels. You’ll play better and play more, losing less time to ankle injuries.

 

References

ankle taping vs ankle bracing which is better

When it comes to preventing ankle injuries or providing support after an injury has occurred, two methods often come to mind – taping the ankle or wearing an ankle brace. These methods are common choices among athletes, athletic trainers, and physiotherapists for providing stability to an injured or unstable ankle. In this blog post, we will discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and comparative effectiveness of both strategies, thereby assisting you in making an informed decision.

Ankle Taping: The Traditional Approach

Ankle taping has been a staple in sports and athletic activities for decades. It involves wrapping athletic tape around the ankle in a specific pattern to provide support and restrict certain movements that could lead to injury.

Advantages of Ankle Taping:

  1. Customizability: Taping allows for customization based on the individual’s unique anatomy and the specific nature of their injury or risk. It can be tailored to provide targeted support.(1).
  2. Versatility: Taping can adapt to various sports and activities, allowing for a degree of movement while offering the right amount of restriction to prevent further injury.(1).

Disadvantages of Ankle Taping:

  1. Time-consuming: Proper taping is a skill that requires practice and can be time-consuming, especially for beginners.
  2. Expensive: Rolls of athletic tape can be costly, and every tape job will be discarded after use(1).
  3. Loses Support Quickly: Taping restricts all ankle range of motion, including the natural up and down movement necessary for running and jumping. The moment an athlete steps onto the field or court, their ankle is working against the fabric tape, stretching it out and losing the support that initially felt secure. Sweat also contributes to the tape losing support.
  4. Consistent Reapplication: Tape loses its effectiveness over time, often requiring reapplication several times during an extended activity.
  5. Potential Skin Irritation: Extended use of tape can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals(1).

Ankle Bracing: The Modern Tool

Ankle braces, on the other hand, represent a more contemporary approach to ankle support. These braces, typically made from plastic or fabric, are designed to be easily applied by the athlete and reused for multiple practices and games. They offer varying levels of support depending on the specific needs of the ankle.

Advantages of Ankle Bracing:

  1. Ease of Use: Ankle braces are generally easier and quicker to put on compared to taping. This convenience can be particularly beneficial for athletes who need to prepare quickly before practices or games(2).
  2. Durability and Reusability: Unlike tape, ankle braces can be used repeatedly over an extended period, making them a cost-effective solution for long-term use(2).
  3. Support: Typically, an ankle brace provides more consistent support than tape. Hinged ankle braces, in particular, maintain ankle support for longer periods of time, even during intense activities.

Disadvantages of Ankle Bracing:

  1. Less Customizable: Unlike taping, braces come in fixed designs and may not offer the same level of personalization to the individual’s anatomy(2).
  2. Potential Discomfort: Some users may find ankle braces bulky or uncomfortable, especially those made with rigid plastic. Finding the right fit and design can mitigate some of these issues but may require trial and error(2).

Ultra Ankle® Braces: The True Modern Tool

A notable example of high-quality ankle braces is the Ultra Ankle® line of braces. These braces are designed to provide exceptional support and comfort, making them a preferred choice for many athletes and individuals with ankle injuries. Let’s delve into the advantages of using Ultra Ankle braces:

Advantages of Ultra Ankle Braces:

  1. Ease of Use: Ultra Ankle® braces are generally easier and quicker to put on compared to taping, reducing preparation time before activities. This ease of use ensures that athletes can spend more time focusing on their performance rather than on injury prevention preparations(3).
  2. Durability and Reusability: Ultra Ankle® braces are known for their durability. They are designed for repeated use over an extended period, making them a cost-effective solution for long-term use. This durability ensures consistent support and protection across numerous practices and games(3).
  3. Innovative Design: The Ultra Ankle® braces are recognized for their innovative designs, which consider different ankle injuries and the varying degrees of support needed. For example:
    • Ultra Zoom® Ankle Brace: Aimed at preventing or recovering from ankle sprains, it offers flexibility while maintaining robust support.
    • Ultra High-5® Ankle Brace: Designed for individuals with chronic ankle instability, it provides enhanced stability to prevent recurring injuries.
  4. Comfort and Fit: Unlike some other brands, Ultra Ankle® braces are often praised for their comfort and ability to fit snugly without being excessively bulky. This comfort is achieved through designs like the Ultra Zoom® and Ultra CTS®, which form a custom fit to the foot and ankle using body heat.
  5. Maintaining Ankle Strength: The Ultra Zoom®, Ultra CTS®, and Ultra High-5® offer a different approach than almost any other ankle brace on the market. Instead of imposing a universal restriction on the ankle’s movement, these braces feature a hinged design that allows for a more natural range of motion. This ensures that while the ankle is supported and safeguarded from dangerous movements, it can still move freely within the safe zone. As a result, the muscles and tendons in the ankle continue to be actively engaged during movement, promoting their strength and function. This approach makes the Ultra Zoom®, Ultra CTS®, and Ultra High-5® braces not just protective devices but tools for maintaining, and even improving, the overall health and strength of the ankle(3).

Ankle Taping vs Ankle Braces: The Verdict

When choosing between ankle taping and bracing, it ultimately depends on your individual needs, comfort, and the nature of your activities. Here’s a comparative look to help you make an informed decision:

  • Short-term Use or Specific Sporting Events: For short-term use or during a specific sporting event, taping can provide the right amount of support and flexibility. It allows for a high degree of customization tailored to the athlete’s specific requirements and the nature of the sport source.
  • Ongoing Competition or Everyday Use: For ongoing competition or daily use, an Ultra Ankle brace is a more practical and cost-effective solution. The durability, ease of use, and consistent support provided by these braces make them ideal for long-term ankle health management(3).

Consulting a Healthcare Provider: It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider regarding your specific requirements. They can offer personalized advice based on your injury history, level of activity, and overall health(1).

Complementary Strength and Balance Training: While ankle taping and braces can provide valuable support, they should be complemented by strength and balance training exercises. These exercises help build robust and resilient ankles, further preventing injuries(2).

Conclusion

The debate between ankle taping and ankle braces is not about finding a clear winner, but about understanding their benefits and limitations. By doing so, you can make an informed decision that best suits your lifestyle, activity level, and personal comfort. Remember, preventing injuries is always better than treating them. Take care of your ankles – you literally stand on the foundation they provide. Optimum ankle health not only boosts your physical performance but also enhances your overall quality of life. Stay strong, stay active, and stride forward with confidence!

High ankle sprains, also known as syndesmotic ankle sprains, are distinct from the more common low ankle sprains. They involve injury to the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula, particularly the anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament, posterior inferior tibiofibular ligament, and the interosseous membrane. These injuries are often caused by an external rotation and/or dorsiflexion trauma, common in high-impact sports like football, soccer, and basketball. (1) (2)

how a high ankle sprain works

 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of a high ankle sprain can be subtle compared to a regular ankle sprain. They typically include pain radiating up the leg, especially when bearing weight or pivoting on the foot, and some swelling. However, high ankle sprains do not usually cause significant bruising or swelling, which can make them difficult to diagnose without proper medical assessment. (1) (2)

To diagnose a high ankle sprain, a physician will perform a physical exam that may include the syndesmosis squeeze test, where the tibia and fibula are compressed together to elicit pain. Imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may also be necessary to rule out fractures or other injuries. (3)

Treatment Options

The treatment of high ankle sprains generally follows the RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest involves avoiding weight-bearing activities to allow the ligaments to heal. Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce swelling. Compression with an elastic bandage helps control swelling, and elevating the leg above the heart reduces pain and inflammation. (1) (3)

In addition to these initial treatments, physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery, focusing on regaining strength, range of motion, and proprioceptive training. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair torn ligaments and restore stability to the ankle. (2)

 

The Role of Ultra Ankle® Braces

Ultra CTS® and Ultra Zoom® ankle braces can significantly aid in the treatment, recovery, and further prevention of high ankle sprains. These braces provide the necessary support and stabilization to the ankle and lower leg, reducing the risk of further injury and allowing for pain free weight-bearing activities as the healing progresses. Here are the specific features of each brace:

 

Ultra CTS® Ankle Brace:

Dynamic Hinged-Cuff Technology: Specifically designed to help prevent external ankle rotation which causes syndesmotic (High) ankle sprains. The Ultra CTS aids in healing by supporting soft tissue recovery. Will help to alleviate weight-bearing pain, encouraging early activity and aiding in quicker rehabilitation post-injury.

Flexible Soft Shell: Made from Performathane®, the Ultra CTS forms a custom-fit to your ankle, providing a comfortable, snug, and secure fit.

PerformaFit® Technology: Transition from the Ultra CTS acute injury ankle brace to a low-profile Ultra CTS activity ankle brace by detaching the PerformaFit upper cuff section. Reattach the PerformaFit cuff section anytime additional ankle support is needed.

The Ultra CTS® is best when used after a walking boot or immediately after injury to help reduce weight bearing pain and provide maximum ankle support and stabilization to aid the healing process and prevent further ankle injury.

Ultra CTS Ankle Brace for rotational stability

Ultra Zoom® Ankle Brace:

Hinged-Cuff Design: Allows for natural up and down ankle movement (dorsiflexion & plantarflexion) while offering excellent support to not only help prevent low “turning” ankle injuries, but also to help prevent rotation “twisting” of the lower leg which can lead to high ankle injuries.

Flexible Soft Shell: Made from Performathane®, the Ultra Zoom forms a custom-fit to your ankle, providing a comfortable, snug, and secure fit.

Durability: Exceptional durability to last multiple seasons. A full ONE YEAR warranty on every component.

The Ultra Zoom® is best when used after the high ankle injury is mostly healed and the athlete is released to return to partial or full activity.

Ultra Zoom ankle brace product features

These features make the Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS ankle braces highly effective in aiding recovery from high ankle sprains, ensuring that patients can return to their daily activities or sports with confidence. (1) (2)

Conclusion

High ankle sprains are complex injuries that require careful diagnosis and treatment. By following proper medical guidance and utilizing supportive devices like the Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS ankle braces, individuals can effectively manage their recovery and reduce the risk of future injuries. If you have further questions about either the Ultra CTS or Ultra Zoom ankle braces, or, would like to communicate with one of our Certified Athletic Trainers, please reach out to us here.

The great outdoors offers individuals the opportunity to improve their fitness while enjoying the beautiful surroundings that nature has provided. Sometimes, however, those beautiful surroundings can offer unintended consequences – like twisting or spraining your ankle. It’s happened to almost everyone at some point in time – you didn’t see that hole underneath those leaves and now you have a grade 2 ankle sprain preventing you from enjoying the activity you love. And if you turn your ankle while hiking more than a few times you are even more susceptible to yet another ankle injury, and even worse, chronic ankle instability.

Even though foot orienteering is dramatically different from hiking, the way you’re injuring your ankle is usually similar between the two. Most often, participants are walking or running on uneven terrain when they accidentally turn their ankle excessively inward causing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch or tear. This stretching/tearing of the ankle ligaments is what results in an ankle injury that is measured on a scale of 1-3 to diagnose severity.

Grades of ankle sprains

Grades of ankle sprains

RECOVERING FROM A HIKING ANKLE INJURY

After seeking medical attention to evaluate and treat your ankle injury, there will come a time when you’re healthy enough to resume normal activity. Unfortunately, once ankle ligaments have been stretched during an injury, they do not bounce back to their original state causing the ankle joint to become loose and unstable. This can potentially begin a cycle of injury where each time you twist your ankle the ligament stretches more and more until you develop chronic ankle issues.

So, how do you stop this cycle of ankle injuries? Better shoes? Taping your ankles? Medication? There are numerous solutions available, but one of the best ways to prevent further ankle injuries, or lessen the severity of an ankle injury, is to seek out a good ankle brace. When it comes to researching ankle braces it may seem like most are geared for high intensity team sports such as football, volleyball or basketball – but which ankle brace is the best for hiking?

The best ankle braces for hiking require the following characteristics:

Comfort – It seems obvious that you would want a comfortable ankle brace if you’re trekking through hills and valleys for extended periods of time. When it comes to any type of brace, comfort is directly related to how the product is designed and what materials it’s made of. In the case of ankle braces, the most comfortable designs are the ones that take the shape of, and move with, your ankle joint.

Cheaper designs may be made of fabric, while advanced ankle braces designed for both comfort and support will use modern materials such as the molded Performathane® technology used in Ultra Ankle® braces. Performathane® is a thermoplastic material that uses body heat to form a custom-fit to the ankle and is known for its flexible, yet durable, properties that will never break or crack.

Long-Lasting Ankle Support – Because of the constant movement of the ankle joint, all ankle braces loosen a bit the longer you wear them. Some ankle braces, however, loosen significantly quicker than others due to the way they are designed and the materials they are made of. Any ankle brace made of cloth that laces up or wraps around your ankle will lose support rapidly because they restrict natural up and down ankle movement. Unlike lace-up ankle braces, hinged braces move with natural ankle range of motion keeping the components of the brace, like the straps, firmly in place maintaining long-lasting ankle support.

Durability – Just like your other gear, you need to consider how the outdoor elements will impact your ankle brace. Rain, mud and sweat have a way of accelerating the deterioration of all materials, especially fabrics. Not only will the material deteriorate and tear faster than usual, ankle braces made of fabric will also absorb bacteria that often results in a foul odor.

What about hiking shoes/boots? – Shoes/boots play a vital role in how an ankle brace fits and feels. Some ankle braces might fit better in a low top trail shoe while a hiking boot may require a different type of ankle brace which fits better in a taller boot. Our Hiking Page explains all the details of trail shoes versus hiking boots and which ankle brace works best with each.

If you’re a hiker and you have a history of twisting your ankle during activity, then wearing a preventative ankle brace might be right for you. Our athletic trainers are always available to answer any specific questions you might have so please send us a message!

Why Football Players Need Ultra Ankle® Braces: A Game Changer in Injury Prevention & RECOVERY

Football is an intense sport requiring players to exhibit agility, speed, and raw power. With its explosive movements, sharp turns, and abrupt stops, football puts significant strain on a player’s body, particularly their ankles. Hence, safeguarding against injuries, specifically ankle injuries, is of paramount importance. That’s where Ultra Ankle braces come into play.

Ankle braces, like the Ultra Ankle® Ultra Zoom®, are critical for football players for several reasons:

  1. Injury Prevention

One of the main reasons football players should wear Ultra Ankle braces is to prevent injuries. Ankle sprains are common in football due to the sport’s demanding nature. The lateral support provided by Ultra 360 Lace-Up braces or Ultra Zoom braces minimizes the risk of sprains, preventing the ankle from rolling inward or outward excessively. Additionally, the hinged-cuff design of the Ultra Zoom works to prevent excessive twisting or turning of the lower leg, thereby limiting high ankle injuries, which are common among football players.

  1. Enhancing Performance

Ultra Zoom braces not only prevent injuries but also enhance performance. With the confidence that their ankles are well protected, football players can focus more on their game. They are free to make quick moves and sudden changes in direction without the fear of injuring their ankles. The Ultra Zoom brace allows football players to stay on the field and off the sidelines, playing more, playing better, and losing less time to ankle injuries.

  1. Speedy Recovery

For players recovering from previous ankle injuries and absolutely needing to play, Ultra Ankle braces, specifically the Ultra CTS, provide much-needed support and stability to accelerate recovery while minimizing the risk of reinjury. The Ultra CTS provides superior unloading of the ankle joint and reduction in weight bearing pain. This gives the relief that players need so they can get back on the gridiron. There is no other brace on the market that can make this claim.

  1. Advanced Design

Ultra Ankle braces like the Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS have been engineered with advanced biomechanical design, tailored to meet the specific needs of athletes, and in this case, football players. They feature a multi-directional hinged-cuff design, allowing for free, natural movement. Unlike taping, this design helps maintain stability and support while still allowing for full athletic functionality. Additionally, the Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS braces custom form-fit to the athlete’s ankles and feet. This not only provides comfort for the athlete, but also allows the brace to act and react with that specific athlete’s ankle joint(s).

  1. Durability and Comfort

In the physical world of football, equipment durability and comfort is a crucial factor. Ultra Ankle braces are known for their robust construction that stands up to the rigors of the sport. Despite this durability, these braces don’t sacrifice comfort – with the custom form-fit, the Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS are designed to be worn for extended periods and fit comfortably inside most football cleats.

In conclusion, Ultra Ankle braces are a necessity for football players. They provide injury prevention, enhance performance, assist in speedy recovery, offer advanced support and comfort, and bring the robustness necessary for the sport, making them an integral part of every football player’s gear. Investing in Ultra Ankle braces is investing in the longevity of a player’s career. Stay in the game with Ultra Ankle.

Do Ankle Braces Work?

It’s an age-old question and there are a myriad of opinions out there. What we do know is our ankles bear a lot of weight and are often subject to sharp and awkward movements. It is no surprise that injuries are common, so, when it comes to ankle injury prevention, support, pain management, and healing, do ankle braces actually help?

In short, yes. The long answer, however, is a little more complicated.

The Functionality of Ankle Braces:

Ankle braces have gained popularity as an aid in injury management and prevention. They are designed to provide stability, limit excessive movement, and offer support to the ankle joint. By minimizing the risk of unnatural twists and turns, ankle braces can significantly reduce the likelihood of sprains and strains during physical activities. However, not all ankle braces are alike. When considering buying an ankle brace, take the following into consideration:

  1. The brace must be made of quality materials and meet medical standards.
  2. Your ankle brace needs to fit you perfectly. That means any fabric should not be loose or too tight. Any splints should be anatomically contoured and all padding needs to be well placed.
  3. The brace must suit your specific condition. Are you wearing it for ankle injury prevention or recovery? Do you already have unstable ankles? Have you incurred a high ankle sprain or an acute ankle sprain?

For example, a neoprene “brace” won’t be the best choice for helping prevent an ankle injury and a neoprene “brace” certainly won’t help you recover from an ankle injury. That’s because there are no medical compression standards for neoprene. Additionally, cheap cost means mass production, which makes it very difficult to find a perfectly sized brace for your ankle. Remember, your brace must properly support and compress your ankle in key areas, because if it doesn’t, you risk ineffective injury prevention. If recovering from an injury you’ll likely have little to no relief from pain and swelling, at best, and re-injury at worst.

Also not recommended for ankle injury prevention or recovery are compression sleeves. The primary function of compression sleeves is to support your muscles by providing slight pressure and compression to promote optimal blood flow to the area the sleeve surrounds. Studies have shown that wearing compression sleeves dilates your arteries, resulting in increased blood flow, or vasodilation. Vasodilation is the widening of the blood vessels as a response to low oxygen in the blood, which happens during exercise and triggers an increased blood flow. Increasing blood flow improves the levels of oxygen and nutrients delivered to the body, which enables you to power through your workouts. What this means is compression ankle sleeves do nothing to actually support your ankle joint.

Lastly, in a study done by the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, it was determined that with the right ankle brace or stabilizer, athletes wearing ankle braces had a 64% reduced risk of ankle sprains compared to those with no ankle brace.

So, what braces do you want to buy that will provide you with the support, comfort and recovery benefits you may need?

Introducing Ultra Ankle® Products:

Among the leading brands in the ankle support industry, Ultra Ankle stands out for its advanced and scientifically engineered solutions. Ultra Ankle products combine cutting-edge technology with ergonomic design to offer unparalleled protection and comfort.

  1. Ultra 360® Lace-Up Ankle Brace:

The Ultra 360 Lace-Up is a game-changer in the world of ankle support. Its innovative design incorporates adjustable figure-8 straps provide 360º of ankle support to help prevent excessive ankle rolling. The multi-adjustable design allows you to customize your level of support. The Ultra 360 is recommended for individuals who require mild ankle support and have a minimal history of ankle injuries.

  1. Ultra Zoom® Ankle Brace:

Specifically tailored for athletes, the Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace offers a perfect blend of flexibility and support. Its sleek, low-profile design fits comfortably in sports shoes (traditional tongue and laces), making it an ideal choice for basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, and other high-impact sports. The Ultra Zoom’s Performathane® soft shell conforms to the ankle’s natural shape, through body heat, ensuring maximum comfort while providing maximum support. The patented Hinged-Cuff design allows the ankle to move in all its natural motions, and none of the bad ones, while still keeping all the tendons and muscles fully engaged as the brace does not bind the ankle and foot in the Neutral Position. The hinged-cuff design also helps to prevent high ankle sprains, which are much more painful and take much longer to recover from.

  1. Ultra High-5® Ankle Brace:

Have a history of ankle injuries? Are your ankles chronically unstable? Then the Ultra High-5 may be the ankle brace for you. With its feather-light but incredibly strong materials, the Ultra High-5 reinforces unstable ankles and can handle even the toughest twists and turns. The Ultra High-5 is also a great ankle brace for athletes and individuals who have recurring joint pain due to excessive pounding unforgiving surfaces.

  1. Ultra CTS® Ankle Brace:

When it comes to high ankle sprains, acute ankle injuries, or even Ankle Osteoarthritis, the Ultra CTS Ankle Brace shines. Engineered with the patented PerformaFit® upright technology, this brace mimics the anatomical contours of the ankle, delivering personalized support and stabilization.

  • High-Ankle Injuries: A high ankle injury occurs when the ankle is excessively externally rotated. The Ultra CTS has a hinged-cuff design which restricts excessive ankle inversion and ROTATION to treat both LOW and HIGH ankle injuries allowing the injured soft tissue to quickly heal.
  • Acute Ankle Injury: With an acute ankle injury you will most likely have weight bearing pain. The Ultra CTS will “unload” the ankle. Ankle unloading means the brace will absorb some of the impact from standing or walking that would normally be transferred into the ankle causing pain. Maximum lower leg and ankle support and stabilization will take stress off the injured ligaments allowing them to heal much quicker.
  • Osteoarthritis: With bone-on-bone joint irritation, or osteoarthritis (OA) you will need an ankle brace that will “unload” the ankle. Ankle unloading means the brace will absorb some of the impact from standing or walking that would normally be transferred into the ankle causing joint irritation and pain. For more details on how the Ultra CTS works for Osteoarthritis please visit our Osteoarthritis Page

 

The Verdict:

Do ankle braces actually help? The answer is a resounding yes, especially when armed with the right information and equipped with superior products like those offered by Ultra Ankle. Ankle braces serve as vital tools in both preventing and managing ankle injuries. With Ultra Ankle’s range of advanced solutions, individuals can confidently pursue their active lifestyles with reduced worry about potential ankle-related setbacks.

 

Conclusion:

In the realm of ankle support, Ultra Ankle products have truly elevated the game. Their commitment to blending science, comfort, and innovation has resulted in a lineup of braces that not only provide exceptional support but also contribute to the overall well-being of athletes and individuals. So, if you’re considering investing in ankle braces to safeguard your ankles, don’t overlook the transformative offerings brought forth by Ultra Ankle. Your ankles will thank you for the reliable protection and support these products provide.

A Comparison of Active Ankle® T2 and Ultra Zoom® by Ultra Ankle®: Choosing the Preferred Ankle Brace

Author’s Note: Before we delve into the comparison between the Active Ankle® T2 and Ultra Zoom® ankle braces, I want to disclose that I am the inventor of both products. I developed the first commercially available hinged ankle brace and co-founded Active Ankle Systems in 1989 and was president until 1996. In 1999, I co-founded Ultra Athlete LLC and introduced the Ultra Ankle line of ankle braces. Over the years, I have accumulated several patents for emerging ankle bracing technologies.

When people inquire about the difference between the Active Ankle® T2 and Ultra Zoom® ankle braces, I’m often asked to provide insights. In this post, I will outline the characteristics of each brace and discuss why the Ultra Zoom is preferred over the Active Ankle T2.

The Active Ankle T2, designed around 35 years ago, represented a significant breakthrough in ankle brace technology compared to traditional splint-style braces such as the Aircast®. Its hinged design allowed full ankle motion, providing support and freedom to run and jump without restrictions. The hinge ensured that the brace moved with the joint, keeping the straps securely in place and maintaining ankle support. The Active Ankle T2 was primarily designed to prevent excessive ankle turning, known as “inversion,” which often leads to low ankle sprains.

Braces for High Ankle Sprains

In the mid-90s, there was an increase in athletes experiencing high ankle injuries, also known as syndesmotic ankle injuries. While low ankle sprains involve excessive inward or outward ankle turning, high ankle injuries occur due to excessive ankle twisting or rotation. These injuries tend to be more severe and require longer healing times. At that time, all ankle braces, including the Active Ankle T2, were designed to treat low ankle injuries exclusively. Consequently, a new ankle brace technology was required to protect against both low and high ankle injuries.

In 1999, Ultra Ankle introduced the first hinged-cuff ankle brace, addressing the need for comprehensive ankle injury protection. By incorporating a cuff into the hinged design, this new brace could effectively restrict both excessive ankle turning and twisting, offering support for both low and high ankle injuries. In 2010, Ultra Ankle introduced the hinged-cuff Ultra Zoom performance ankle brace. Compared to the rigid Active Ankle T2, the Ultra Zoom features a flexible Performathane® shell that custom-fits to the ankle using body heat, providing comfortable and long-lasting ankle support. The Performathane® shell boasts advanced resin technology, which was not available when the Active Ankle T2 was invented in the 1980s. This innovation ensures the Ultra Zoom will never crack, break, or tear, ensuring durability across multiple seasons of use.

When comparing ankle braces and deciding about which is best for you, it’s important to consider various factors. Questions such as durability, injury prevention capabilities, comfort, and warranty coverage should guide your research and help you make an informed decision. If you have any specific inquiries regarding ankle braces and how they relate to your situation, please leave a comment below or send us a message. Our certified athletic trainers will be more than happy to assist you.

Quick Comparison: T2 vs. Ultra Zoom

Ankle Brace Design

  • T2: Hinged design
  • Ultra Zoom: Hinged-Cuff Design

 Injury Protection

  • T2: Helps prevent low ankle injuries
  • Ultra Zoom: Helps prevent low and high ankle injuries

Shell Material

  • T2: Rigid Polypropylene
  • Ultra Zoom: Flexible Performathane®

In the sphere of product evolution, quite frequently, progress remains stalled until new materials are created or manufacturing techniques improved. This fact holds particularly true for ankle braces. The Ultra Zoom® ankle brace, produced by Ultra Ankle®, stands as a perfect example of this phenomenon. The key technological advances underpinning this unique product didn’t exist until they were explicitly devised, scrutinized, and demonstrated to offer superior protection against ankle injuries than other alternatives in the market.

The Ultra Zoom® ankle brace from Ultra Ankle® is exceptional in its design and technological attributes, thanks to its patented Performathane® flexible soft shell, proprietary PerformaFit® 3D padding system, and robust hinged-cuff design— three elements that are not available in any other braces.

 

How Does it Function?

For a brace, including ankle braces, to deliver optimal efficacy, it must mimic the anatomy’s structure. This requirement calls for the brace to adapt or custom-fit to the joint’s shape. A custom-fit ankle brace provides more comfort, maintains a lower profile, and offers superior support. However, achieving these custom-fit design aspirations necessitates the development of new materials.

Ultra Ankle® undertook a rigorous five-year endeavor to formulate materials that would facilitate the design of an ankle brace that provides exceptional comfort, long-lasting support, and durability across multiple seasons. The culmination of this endeavor is the Ultra Zoom® ankle brace, equipped with Performathane® and PerformaFit® technologies.

 

External Flexibility, Internal Custom Fit

So, what are Performathane® and PerformaFit® exactly?

Performathane® forms the soft external shell of the Ultra Zoom® and utilizes the athlete’s body heat to adapt or custom-fit to the ankle. Generally, it requires one or two practice sessions for the brace shell to fully mold to the joint’s shape. However, this process can be expedited by using a common home hair dryer. Watch our Custom Fitting Video to start making your Ultra Zoom custom to you. Additionally, the Performathane® shell is engineered to be unbreakable, resistant to cracks and tears, thus offering durability that lasts multiple seasons.

PerformaFit® is another innovation from Ultra Ankle® that adds to the Ultra Zoom’s custom-fit capabilities. This unique padding system, constructed from a specially formulated foam, allows the padding to conform to the ankle joint’s shape and retain that shape over time. The PerformaFit® system maintains its cushioning properties throughout an entire sports season.

 

An Unparalleled Degree of Ankle Injury Prevention

Together, the Performathane® soft shell and the PerformaFit® padding system introduce unprecedented comfort, support, and durability levels that previous ankle brace designs can’t compete with. If you’re curious to learn more about our innovative technology, or want to determine if the Ultra Zoom® ankle brace is the ideal choice for you, feel free to reach out to us! Our certified athletic trainers would be more than pleased to assist with your queries.