While ankle braces fit comfortably in most traditional athletic shoes or sneakers with a tongue and laces, there are some shoes that don’t work well with braces.

If you purchase an ankle brace and can’t fit it inside your shoe, or its uncomfortable while you’re wearing it with your shoes, it may be due to the design or style of the shoe and not the ankle brace. For that reason, it’s a good idea to know up front which shoes you should avoid when wearing your ankle braces.

The style of sneaker that works best with ankle braces have a traditional tongue and laces design so you can spread out the opening of the shoe and easily insert the ankle brace. Low-top athletic shoes work best with ankle braces because they don’t apply undue pressure over your ankle bones like a mid- or high-top shoe will.

Athletic shoe styles are changing all the time. It’s important to know how these new styles impact the fit of an ankle brace inside the shoe. In recent years athletic shoe companies have been introducing sneakers that deviate from the traditional shoe design. Rather than having a traditional tongue and laces, this new style of shoe has a collar or sleeve design that makes it almost impossible to fit the brace in the shoe. These shoes typically are of the mid- or high-top design and are hardest to fit an ankle brace inside.

We have found that our customers with these newer types of shoes can usually wear a hinged ankle brace if their foot size is above a women’s size 9 or a men’s size 7 – it all depends on how large the opening to the sleeve of the shoe is.

For those without a traditional tongue and laces design, a smaller shoe size, or a high-top shoe a lace-up ankle brace will most likely be the best option for you. The Ultra 360 locks your ankle in place while the 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.


If you’re an athlete who is planning to wear an ankle brace and you want it to fit in the shoe properly and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time stick with a traditional, low-top sneaker designed for the sport you play.

No high-top shoe is going to prevent an injury in sports that have a higher risk of ankle sprains (such as basketball or volleyball) where the mechanism of injury is coming down from a jump and landing on an opposing players foot at a high velocity. Therefore, we recommend wearing a low top athletic shoe with a high performance ankle brace, like the Ultra Zoom, which is designed to help prevent ankle injuries or lessen the severity should an injury occur. The Ultra Zoom will fit easily in a traditional low top sneaker and provide a comfortable fit all season long. 

Conventional wisdom is that high-top athletic shoes or tall work boots can support the ankle more effectively than low tops primarily because the high-top shoe is higher and therefore has more leverage to grab the ankle and hold it in place. However, todays high-top sneakers are not your parent’s high-tops.

These new high-top designs use flexible and stretchable materials with the goal of being comfortable to wear for long periods of time. And if the material stretches it’s probably not going to provide much in the way of ankle support. While high-top shoes are advertised to provide additional ankle support, the truth is that no shoe can support the joint and help prevent ankle injuries like an ankle brace can. 

Tall Work Boots

Let’s say you are a construction worker and you suffer from ankle osteoarthritis, so you like to wear a sturdy work boot to help stabilize your ankle. Let’s say recently your ankle started hurting on the job site and you’re thinking about getting an ankle brace for additional support.

Two things happen when you try to wear an ankle brace in a tall work boot:

  1. The ankle brace is very difficult to fit inside your tall work boot, or
  2. If you get the brace to fit in the boot it may not be very comfortable. This happens after you lace up the boot, which pushes the sides of the brace against the ankle bones, potentially causing pain and irritation.

In general, we recommend a low-top work shoe where you can spread out the laces enough to easily fit the brace in the shoe. Since the sides of the shoe are below the joint  there is no potential for irritation over your ankle bones. A low-top work shoe combined with a good professional ankle brace can provide more ankle support than a tall work boot worn by itself by far.

For those looking for an ankle brace that will fit in a high-top work boot, the Ultra 360 Lace-up will be your best option. This flexible, fabric brace fits in almost any shoe – providing extra support and compression to help protect your ankle. 

If you have questions about which ankle brace would fit best inside your athletic shoes or work boots you can send one of our athletic trainers a message. They will be able to take a look at a photo of your shoe and help you determine the right ankle brace for your situation. 

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

A common question I get several times a week from people inquiring through our website portal is, “which ankle brace is best for me, the Ultra Zoom or the Ultra High-5.” Which I reply with several questions about their current ankle condition and injury history.


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 players 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 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

Another reason why I would not recommend a lace-up style ankle brace is because it restricts the natural up and down movement of the ankle which is needed to perform at the highest level and keep your muscle strong. If the goal is to jump the highest or run the fastest, the last thing you would want is an ankle brace 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?

Lace-Up Ankle Supports are a Stinky Investment

My collegiate athletic trainer colleagues have told me their athletes can go through three pairs of lace-up braces per season, making them a worse investment than a slightly more expensive, long-lasting ankle brace. Lace-ups are made of fabric that, due to the constant resistance to the joint’s natural range of motion, ending up stretching, ripping, and/or tearing severely reducing the amount of time you can use it before having to buy a new one.

Aside from the natural tendency of fabric to wear out, it also absorbs bacteria. This bacteria not only causes the brace (and everything it comes in contact with…) to smell terrible but it also aides in further deteriorating the brace itself.

Better Alternatives to Lace-Up Ankle Stabilizers

Ankle braces are no different than any other product in the sense that you get what you pay for.

Lace-up braces represent the lowest cost type of ankle brace you can purchase, therefore it provides the least amount of support, performance, and durability. A much better solution for everyday use to help prevent the ankle injury is a semi-rigid, hinged cuff ankle brace. Our hinged-cuff ankle brace, the Ultra Zoom, 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.

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

While hinged braces might not be the most exciting topic in the world to discuss, it’s definitely an important one. Whether your joint has been injured, or you’re trying to prevent an injury from occurring, it is crucial that the brace you wear is effective in supporting and stabilizing your joint.

Two major components of a brace that dictate its effectiveness are the design features that set it apart from similar products and the materials in which it’s made.


One of the most common design features in modern bracing is the use of a hinge. You might think that the purpose of a hinged brace is to keep your muscles strong and enhance performance by allowing for full range of motion. While this is a perk of using a brace with a hinge, it’s not the main reason why the most advanced elbow, ankle, and knee braces are designed this way.

The main reason a hinge is used in knee, elbow and ankle braces is to achieve sustainable, long-lasting joint support. When the brace can move freely throughout a non-injury range of motion, the straps that hold the brace to the joint stay securely in place resulting in support throughout an entire practice or game.

Lace-up braces restrict all joint range of motion and since they aren’t working in conjunction with the joint, like a hinged brace, the laces and straps end up migrating, stretching, and rapidly losing support during activity. For this reason, tie-up elbow and knee braces that limit non-injury range of motion haven’t been used for decades, however, when it comes to ankle braces people continue to bind up their joints and limit their performance for minimal support in a lace-up ankle brace.


While ankle braces were finally catching up with knee and elbow braces in the design department with the addition of effective hinges, they were still lacking in the materials used to create braces. When hinged braces first came on the scene in the late 1980s, they were big and bulky and consisted of a hard plastic that had a tendency to break and crack within a couple of months. Up until the late 1990s, this rigid plastic was the only material hinged braces were made out of. This forced people to choose between a soft, comfortable brace that provided minimal support or a hard plastic brace that provided ultimate support with full range of motion but could be very uncomfortable.

When it comes to wearing an ankle brace – people choose the more comfortable version almost every time. This, along with a lower price point, led to a resurgence in lace-up ankle braces, despite their minimal support and performance restricting design.

Knowing there was a better way, the innovators at Ultra Ankle set out to develop a new material for hinged ankle braces that is flexible and form-fitting, yet just firm enough to provide ultimate support to the joint. The Performathane soft shell found in the multi-patented Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS ankle braces uses body heat to form-fit to your ankle creating the most comfortable ankle brace you will ever wear.

This premium material in Ultra Ankle’s hinged-cuff braces is a thermoplastic resin that will never crack, break, or tear resulting in multi-season protection from injury causing ankle inversion and rotation. When you invest in Ultra Ankle braces, you’re investing in long-lasting ankle protection – not a short term fix that you’ll soon have to replace. Instead of buying 2-3 ankle braces to last you one sports season, you can now buy one Ultra Zoom to last you multiple years.

You Get What You Pay For

When it comes to sports medical devices, especially braces for the knee, elbow and ankle, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is completely true. When evaluating the best ankle braces for your situation, make sure to consider the latest in ankle brace research, design, and materials to choose which is best for you. A premium hinged-cuff ankle brace that provides the comfort, support, and durability you need to protect your ankles will be worth the investment every time.

Our product specialists and athletic trainers have over 40 years of experience in ankle bracing and hold the most ankle brace design patents in the world. We’re here to help and answer any questions you may have – just send us a message.

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

What is your go-to ankle brace for acute ankle injuries? Don’t have one? It turns out you’re not alone.

When it comes to bracing acute ankle injuries, many AT’s end up using a walking boot because they are lacking a sufficient ankle brace alternative. Seeing this void in the marketplace led the ATs at Ultra Ankle to develop the first ankle brace specifically designed to treat/brace acute ankle injuries – the Ultra CTS (Custom Treatment System).

With the Ultra CTS ankle brace we address the two features needed most when bracing acute ankle injuries – maximum ankle and lower leg stabilization combined with reducing weight bearing pain. 


Stabilizing the Ankle and Lower Leg

Let’s say your basketball player comes down from a rebound and lands on another player’s foot, potentially resulting in a grade two ankle sprain. Or your starting tackle gets his ankle rolled up on and now you’re treating his syndesmotic ankle injury. A typical plan of action is to put the player in a walking boot for a day or two to calm things down…but then what?

First things first, you must address the stability issue before the athlete can transition out of the walking boot.

The Ultra CTS has a dual hinged-cuff design that is taller than other braces to compress and stabilize the tibia and fibula. This upper cuff section is made of a flexible soft-shell material (Performathane) which allows the brace to securely encircle the lower leg and ankle providing maximum stability. Our proprietary Performathane® material is made of the highest quality thermoplastic resin – which means it is able to absorb the body heat of the athlete during activity to help it create a form-fitting, secure fit.

When it comes to recovering from an injury, the longer the athlete is in the walking boot the more their ankle strength and ROM are negatively impacted. For this reason, it’s important to have the Ultra CTS® acute injury ankle brace as a part of your transition protocol. With this ankle brace, athletes are able to transition back to activity much sooner and safer than if they went straight from a walking boot to no brace or a lace-up support.

Now, how do you address the weight bearing pain?

Reducing Weight Bearing Pain

The second unique feature of the Ultra CTS design is the ability to unload the ankle to reduce weight bearing pain. We designed the foot section of the Ultra CTS using a semi-rigid material that will absorb some of the impact and/or energy that would normally be directed into the sore and injured ankle. With this foot section in place, the energy bypasses the ankle and is applied to the lower leg. This reduces the impact to the sore ankle (resulting in the athlete feeling less pain) which means they can transition out of the walking boot to a fully functional ankle brace they can wear for the remainder of their rehabilitation.

At this point many athletes will opt to wear the Ultra CTS the remainder of the season because it’s comfortable and they don’t have any fear of reinjury. However, if the athlete would prefer a more mobile ankle brace, they can quickly detach the upper PerformaFit® upper cuff section to transition into a low-profile activity brace. Either way, you now have options when bracing and treating acute ankle injuries that will safely get your athletes back to full participation faster.

Treat In-Game Ankle Injuries

Aside from being an important part of your treatment and rehab protocol, the Ultra CTS is also widely used by collegiate and pro athletic trainers to treat in-game ankle injuries.

After an athlete suffers an in-game ankle injury, most of the time the only thing preventing them from returning to the game is their weight bearing pain. Tape and lace-ups cannot unload the ankle and reduce weight bearing pain – but the Ultra CTS can. Athletic trainers, especially in football, are consistently utilizing the Ultra CTS on in-game ankle injuries (when appropriate) to allow the player to return to competition during the same game.

Are you one of the many athletic trainers prepared for acute and/or in-game ankle injuries by having an Ultra CTS in your kit? If not, let us know what it would take to get you to try it out by sending us an email at support@ultraankle.com or leaving us a note in the comments below.

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

Just so there is full disclosure in this blog, I invented both the Active Ankle® T2 and Ultra Zoom® by Ultra Ankle®. After developing the first commercially available hinged ankle brace I was one of the founders of Active Ankle Systems in 1989 and was its President until 1996. In 1999, I was co-founder of Ultra Athlete LLC and developed the Ultra Ankle line of ankle braces. Through all of those years of ankle brace development I accumulated 18 U.S. and numerous foreign patents on emerging ankle bracing technologies.

As the inventor of both ankle braces I often get asked, “what is the difference between the two?” So in this post, I will compare the Active Ankle® T2 versus the Ultra Zoom® by Ultra Ankle®.  When I designed the original Active Ankle® approximately 35 years ago it was a significant breakthrough from the traditional splint style ankle brace (like a Aircast®) in terms of support and range of motion. The hinge design allows full up and down ankle motion to run and jump without restriction. Since the hinge allowed the brace to move in conjunction with the joint, the straps stayed securely in place maintaining ankle support. The Active Ankle® was designed to restrict excessive ankle turning (“inversion”) which causes the classic low ankle sprain. 

Braces for High Ankle Sprains

Have you ever heard the term “high-ankle” sprain? In the mid-90’s we kept hearing about athletes having high ankle injuries. In the sports medicine profession, high ankle sprains are commonly known as syndesmotic ankle injuries. Where the classic low ankle sprain involves the ankle excessively turning inward or outward, the high-ankle injury is a result of the ankle twisting or rotating excessively.

This twisting and/or rotating causes an injury above the ankle, between the tibia and fibula, which tends to be more severe and takes longer to heal. Since all ankle braces at the time were only designed to treat low ankle injuries, the Active Ankle® T2 included, a new ankle brace technology needed to be developed to protect the ankle from both low and high ankle injuries. 

At Ultra Ankle, we introduced the first hinged-cuff designed ankle brace in 1999. Adding a cuff to the hinged style brace meant that the ankle brace could help restrict both excessive ankle turning and twisting to treat both the high and low ankle injuries. In 2010 Ultra Ankle introduced the hinged-cuff designed Ultra Zoom performance ankle brace.  Compared to the rigid Active Ankle® T2, the Ultra Zoom has a flexible Performathane shell which uses body heat to custom-fit to the ankle for comfortable, long-lasting ankle support. The Performathane shell will never crack, break or tear offering the user multi-season durability. This advanced resin technology was not even available back in the 1980’s when I invented the Active Ankle T2.  

When it comes to comparing ankle braces and deciding which is the best for you it’s important to consider a variety of factors. Questions like “How long will the brace last? What kind of injuries will it help prevent? Is it comfortable? Does it have a warranty?” will help you begin your research and make an informed decision. If you have any specific questions about ankle braces and how they relate to your situation, leave a comment below or send us a message and one of our certified athletic trainers will be able to help.


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®

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

As a university athletic training student, the first thing we learned in class was how to tape an ankle. Taping the ankle was something athletic trainers would take pride in and it was always a competition as to who could tape the ankle the best and the quickest. But looking back now, after over 30 years of being an ATC, is ankle taping always appropriate for the ankle?


As a university athletic training student working with the football program we taped the ankles of every player on the team at great expense and time. We taped perfectly healthy ankles with no previous injury history with the goal of helping to prevent the ankle injury during practice and games. Looking back at that experience, I don’t think that was a wise decision.

When you tape the ankle you are locking that ankle joint in a fixed position which would restrict normal up and down ankle range of motion necessary to run and jump at a high level. Why would you want to restrict normal, non-injury range of motion? The answer is you wouldn’t, and therefore I would advise against taping a perfectly healthy ankle to help prevent the ankle injury.

If you did play a sport with a high incidence of ankle injuries and wanted to protect your ankle I would suggest wearing an ankle brace with a hinge that would allow full up and down ankle range of motion. This way you get the performance of being able to move your ankle freely with the protection the ankle brace provides for excessive turning and twisting. Not to mention, studies have found “that ankle taping would be 3.05 times as expensive as ankle bracing over the course of a competitive season” so this method isn’t as cost effective in the long run.


Now, let’s say you do have a few previous ankle injuries and you want to tape your ankle to provide additional stability to help prevent future ankle injuries. Taping the ankle is perfectly fine in this situation as many collegiate and professional athletes routinely have the athletic trainer tape their ankles before every practice and game. In some circumstances, like gymnasts who don’t wear shoes in competition, ankle taping can be the only option for ankle injury prevention and in that case is better than no support at all. 

Limitations of Ankle Taping

When taping your ankle, it’s important to keep in mind the limitations that taping can provide so that you choose the best way to protect yourself. One of the biggest limitations of tape is that like cheap, outdated lace-up ankle braces, tape that is used to wrap ankles is typically made of fabric. As you continue rigorous activity, the tape (like fabric) will become loose and unstable in a short amount of time reducing the amount of support it can ultimately give you.

When your ankle is taped in the commonly fixed 90º position, the tape will be forced to stretch, migrate, and shift during activity. When you’re playing your sport or moving around your ankle is moving up and down and constantly working against the tape. This will not only cause the tape to lose its structural integrity, but may also fatigue your ankle joint due to the extra effort it is putting forth to move in it’s natural range of motion.

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

Some sports have a very high incidence of ankle injuries, so coaches and athletic trainers often times will require athletes to wear an ankle brace to help prevent the ankle injury. Yes, ankle braces can prevent some ankle injuries, however, they are really designed to lessen the severity should an injury occur. Wearing an ankle brace could be the difference in getting a grade 1 ankle sprain and missing two days of activity instead of getting a grade 2 ankle sprain and missing three weeks of activity.

In this blog, I will compare two very popular ankle braces designed to help prevent the ankle injury, the Ultra Zoom by Ultra Ankle and the lace-up (tie-up) style ankle support available from many companies. There are a few major differences between these two ankle brace designs which cause them to fit and function dramatically different.

Lace-Up Ankle Braces

The lace-up ankle brace was first introduced in 1887 as a corset for the ankle. In the 1990’s lace-up style ankle braces were made popular as a reusable tape-job that the athlete can apply themselves. The lace-up ankle brace is made of cloth and is designed to lace-up around the ankle to help prevent the ankle from excessively turning inward which is the classic low ankle sprain. Usually there are straps attached to the lace-up that wrap around the ankle in a figure-8 design. Due to their corset design, lace-up ankle braces resist all ankle range of motion, including non-injury up and down ankle motion. Any brace that resists all joint motion will lose support rapidly, especially if worn by an athlete. 

The next logical question might be “if a lace-up resists normal ankle range of motion, how does that affect performance?” A recent university study concluded that lace-ups “significantly decreased ankle joint range of motion and isokinetic measures of muscle torque, total work, and power.” To clarify, the lace-up brace negatively affects ankle range of motion and strength. 

Ultra Zoom® Ankle Braces

Unlike tie-up ankle supports, the Ultra Zoom has a hinged-cuff design that allows the brace to move with the ankle, not against it. The hinged-cuff design allows the straps to stay securely in place maintaining longer lasting ankle support similar to the design of modern knee braces. Since the ankle brace moves with the joint there is no negative impact on performance, especially vertical jump.

The hinged-cuff design encircles the posterior portion of the lower leg, helping to restrict excessive ankle turning and twisting which causes both low and high ankle sprains. Another unique feature to the Ultra Zoom is the introduction of the first Performathane flexible soft shell. This brace is not made of a rigid plastic like other hinged ankle braces, but is made of a flexible shell that uses body heat to custom-fit to the ankle making it incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Ankle braces featuring a Performathane shell will never crack, break or tear offering multi-season durability. 

Quick Comparison: Lace-up vs. Ultra Zoom

Brace Design

  • Lace-Up: Corset
  • Ultra Zoom: Hinged-cuff with Performathane® soft shell

Injury Protection

  • Lace-Up: Helps prevent low ankle injuries.
  • Ultra Zoom: Helps prevent low and high ankle injuries.

Shell Material

  • Lace-Up: Fabric with laces and straps
  • Ultra Zoom: Flexible Performathane® soft shell

Retail Price

  • Lace-Up: $34.99 (price varies depending on the brand)
  • Ultra Zoom: $49.95

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

As an athletic trainer I attend numerous sporting events and the number one question I get from parents, coaches, and athletes is “Do ankle braces weaken the ankle?” In some sports with a very high incidence of ankle injuries such as volleyball, basketball, and football many players wear ankle braces every game and practice to help prevent ankle sprains or lessen the severity should an injury occur. By wearing ankle braces on both ankles throughout an entire season, it makes sense that parents, coaches, and players would wonder if there was any negative impact on ankle strength.

I have over 30 years of experience in athletic training and hold over 15 patents in ankle brace design and there are only two ways I know of to weaken a joint and the muscles that support it:

1) By not using the joint – This is usually the case after a surgery when the muscles atrophy from non-use.

2) By restricting normal joint range of motion – If you restrict or bind-up a joint where it can’t move through a full range of motion muscle weakening may occur.

Since most athletes will be using their joints often and strengthening them through various drills and conditioning exercises, their main concern should be with restricting normal joint range of motion and therefore potentially weakening the ankle.

So the question is, are there any ankle braces that restrict normal joint range of motion? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

The lace-up (or corset style) brace restricts all joint range of motion, including the up and down ankle motion needed to run and jump by binding it with laces and/or tight wraparound Velcro straps. A recent university study concluded that lace-ups “significantly decreased ankle joint range of motion and isokinetic measures of muscle torque, total work, and power.” To clarify, the lace-up brace negatively effects ankle range of motion and strength.

So, is there an ankle brace that doesn’t weaken the ankle? The good news is yes.

Hinged ankle braces that allow full unrestricted up and down ankle range of motion will not weaken the ankle. These braces have a hinge on each side of the ankle bone which allows the brace to move with the ankle, not against it like with lace-ups. By moving with the ankle joint, any straps can stay securely in place maintaining long-lasting ankle support. 

There are two styles of hinged ankle braces available and commonly used by athletes – hinged and hinged-cuff. Hinged only braces were first introduced in 1989 and were designed primarily to restrict excessive ankle turning or “inversion.” Common brands of hinged ankle brace are Active Ankle, McDavid and Shock Doctor.

Hinged-cuff ankle braces were first introduced in 2000 and are designed to not only restrict excessive ankle turning (“inversion”) but also rotational twisting to help prevent both high and low ankle sprains. Brands of hinged-cuff ankle braces include Ultra Ankle, Don Joy, and Ossur.

If you have any more questions about ankle braces and how they may affect the strength of the ankle, leave me a comment below or send us a message! I’d be happy to answer your questions.

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

Did you get much education in college about the different ankle bracing technologies available? Many athletic trainers tell me they received little or no formal education about bracing of any sort.

One athletic trainer mentioned to me that the extent of their ankle brace education was the one day in class where the professor brought in various ankle, knee, shoulder and wrist braces for everyone to evaluate. Other athletic trainers tell me that the only education they received about bracing was working directly with sports teams, in which case they were only exposed to different braces the head athletic trainer or athletes were using at the time.

If you’re one of these athletic trainers that didn’t receive much formal training on ankle bracing and have been learning as you go, allow me to share the reasoning behind various ankle brace technologies available and how each design effects joint control and performance. Once you have a basic understanding of the various ankle brace designs, you can best choose the appropriate ankle brace for the specific condition.

Ankle Braces Recommended by Athletic Trainers

The four major types of ankle brace designs are as follows:

  • Lace-up or Corset
  • Stirrup
  • Hinged
  • Hinged-Cuff

Lace-Up (or Corset) Ankle Braces

The lace-up brace design was first introduced in 1887 and has since been replaced by more functional technologies for every other joint except the ankle. (You would never prescribe a lace-up knee brace for an athlete, would you?) Today lace-up ankle braces are primarily used as a reusable tape-job, and like a tape job they restrict normal ankle ROM which causes them to lose support rapidly. Lace-ups provide the least amount of long-lasting ankle stabilization and lack the durability to last more than one sports season.

Stirrup Ankle Braces

The stirrup design was first introduced in 1981 and is primarily prescribed by medical professionals to non-athletic patients as a splint for grade 1-2 ankle injuries. The stirrup design provides mild/moderate ankle stabilization, but is rarely used by athletic trainers because more functional ankle braces are available.

Hinged Ankle Braces

The hinge design was first introduced in 1989 as an evolution of the stirrup design to provide athletes full plantar and dorsiflexion ROM. The breakthrough concept behind the hinged design allowed the brace to move with normal joint movement while the straps could stay securely in place maintaining long lasting ankle support. The hinged designed brace can provide moderate to maximum ankle support for inversion and eversion ankle injuries.

Hinged-Cuff Ankle Braces

The hinged-cuff brace was first introduced in 2000 as an evolution of the hinged only brace primarily designed to restrict excessive ankle inversion, eversion and rotation.  The semi-rigid cuff provided the rotational stability the brace needed to treat the syndesmotic ankle injury. The hinged-cuff ankle brace can provide moderate to maximum ankle stabilization for both high and low ankle injuries.

Do you have questions about different ankle brace technologies and how they may be used for a variety of conditions? Leave me a comment below or send me a message and I’d be happy to talk it through with you.

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