Ankle Taping vs Ankle Braces: What’s Best for Your Ankle Support?


When it comes to preventing ankle injuries or providing support after an injury has occurred, two methods often come to mind – ankle taping and wearing ankle braces. They are common choices among athletes, athletic trainers, and physiotherapists for mitigating the risk of ankle sprains. In this blog post, we will delve into 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 used traditionally 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. Here are the pros and cons of this method:


  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.
  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. Time-consuming: Proper taping is a skill that requires practice and can be time-consuming, especially for beginners.
  2. Consistent Reapplication: Tape loses its effectiveness over time, often requiring reapplication several times during an extended activity.
  3. Potential Skin Irritation: Extended use of tape can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.
  4. Locking the Ankle in Neutral Position: One significant limitation of ankle taping is that it often locks the ankle joint in a neutral position. This restriction can limit the natural range of motion and flexibility, which might not be suitable for all sports or activities.

Ankle Braces: The “Modern” Tool

Ankle braces, on the other hand, are devices made from various materials like neoprene, plastic, or fabric, designed to provide support to the ankle joint. They come in various sizes and designs, with some allowing for adjustable levels of compression and restriction.


  1. Ease of Use: Ankle braces are generally easier and quicker to put on compared to tape.
  2. Durability and Reusability: Unlike tape, braces can be used repeatedly over an extended period, making them a cost-effective solution for long-term use.
  3. Adjustability: Some braces offer adjustable levels of support and compression, allowing the user to adapt the brace to their comfort and needs.


  1. Less Customizable: Unlike taping, braces come in fixed designs and may not offer the same level of personalization to the individual’s anatomy or the nature of the injury.
  2. Potential Discomfort: Some users may find braces bulky or uncomfortable, especially during extended periods of wear.


Ultra Ankle Braces: The True Modern Tool

Ankle braces are devices designed to provide support to the ankle joint. They are available in various sizes and designs, with some offering adjustable levels of compression and restriction. A notable example of high-quality ankle braces is the Ultra Ankle line of braces. Here, let’s delve into the advantages of using these braces, in particular:

  1. Ease of Use: Like most ankle braces, Ultra Ankle braces are generally easier and quicker to put on compared to taping, reducing preparation time before activities.
  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.
  3. Innovative Design: The Ultra Ankle braces are recognized for their innovative designs which take into consideration different ankle injuries and the varying degrees of support needed. This ranges from their Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace, which is aimed at preventing or recovering from ankle sprains, to the Ultra High-5 Ankle Brace, designed for chronic ankle instability and high-impact activities.
  4. Comfort and Fit: Unlike some other brands, Ultra Ankle braces are often praised for their comfort and the ability to fit snugly without being excessively bulky. This is because Ultra Ankle braces, like the Ultra Zoom and Ultra CTS, custom form-fit to the foot and ankle using body heat. This feature makes them suitable for use in various types of athletic footwear, although a traditional tongue and laces shoe is recommended for best fit.
  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 still supported and safeguarded from dangerous movements that can lead to injuries, it can 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.

Ankle Taping vs Ankle Braces: The Verdict

When choosing between ankle taping and braces, it ultimately depends on your individual needs, comfort, and the nature of your activities. For short-term use or during a sporting event, taping can provide the right amount of support and flexibility. However, for ongoing competition or everyday use, an Ultra Ankle brace is a more practical and cost-effective solution.

In the end, the primary goal is to prevent ankle injuries or to aid recovery from an injury. Therefore, consulting with a healthcare provider o understand your specific requirements would be highly beneficial. It’s also crucial to remember that while ankle taping and braces can provide valuable support, they should be complemented by strength and balance training exercises to help build robust and resilient ankles.


The debate between ankle taping and ankle braces is not about finding a clear winner, but about understanding their benefits and limitations. In 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, so 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!

Ankle Bracing Myths

If you’ve ever Googled these questions about ankle braces, you know that there’s a lot of conflicting information. So, to tackle that and dispel your concerns about ankle bracing, let’s debunk four common myths about ankle bracing.

NOTE: Why do thousands of high school, collegiate and professional athletes wear ankle braces? because they work. Wearing ankle braces do not cause knee injuries, they don’t create ankle weakness and they don’t impair performance or the top team physicians and athletic trainers would not prescribe them for their athletes.

Myth: Ankle braces prevent all ankle injuries

The Truth: No ankle brace can prevent all ankle injuries. We could probably design an ankle brace that would prevent all ankle injuries, but no athlete would wear it because it would be too big, bulky, and uncomfortable. Ankle braces can prevent some ankle injuries and those injuries it can’t prevent the ankle brace will help lessen the injury severity so instead of a grade 2 injury and the player is out three weeks, it’s a grade 1 ankle injury and the player is out three days.

Choosing the proper ankle brace is determined by your ankle injury history. If you have played sports for years and have a history of numerous ankle injuries, then you need a more robust ankle brace like our Ultra High-5 or Ultra CTS which is designed with more leverage to support the ankle. On the other hand, if you’ve had a few previous ankle injuries and want a smaller scale sports ankle brace then our Ultra Zoom model would be highly recommended. The goal of wearing any ankle brace is reduce or stop the cycle of ankle injuries to stop the joint and ligament deterioration.

Myth: Ankle braces increase knee injuries

The Truth: While in a laboratory setting researchers exhibited that there are changes in knee mechanics when landing from a jump wearing an ankle brace, there is no evidence of increased knee injury while wearing ankle braces during a sports season. In sports like volleyball research has shown there is no impact on knee forces or athletic performance.

Our Limitless Performance Series (LPS) ankle braces have a hinge that allows full up (dorsiflexion) and down (plantar flexion) ankle range of motion which like a hinged knee brace significantly lessens the forces that could cause an injury due the joint being in a static condition. Any brace that moves with the natural movement of the joint will always be more supportive and less likely to cause injury then a brace that locks the joint in a fixed position.

Sports like volleyball and basketball generate a tremendous amount of ankle joint stress just from playing the sport. Wearing an ankle brace like our Ultra Zoom can not only help to prevent ankle injuries but can also reduce joint stress that cause ligament microtears which produce post activity soreness and pain. Rather than the ankle absorbing this stressful impact or energy every practice and game let the Ultra Zoom do the work and protect that healthy ankle joint.

Myth: Ankle braces cause muscle weakness

The Truth: Immobilization of the ankle joint over an extended period can cause muscle weakness. However, if you are wearing an ankle brace you are not immobilized, you are active. And the only time you are wearing an ankle brace is while playing your sport. There is no clinical evidence that suggests wearing an ankle brace over the course of a sports season causes muscle weakness.

The best way to ensure that your ankle muscles are working to their fullest while wearing an ankle brace is to wear a hinged ankle brace that allows full natural up and down ankle movement like our Ultra Zoom, Ultra High-5 or Ultra CTS. These three ankle braces are designed for different ankle injury conditions however they all have the goal of providing early activity after injury in order to regain ankle range of motion and strength.

Myth: Ankle braces impair performance.

The Truth: Ankle braces are designed to restrict excessive ankle motion that cause ankle injuries. This does not mean that ankle braces negatively impact performance. A hinged ankle brace like those in our Limited Performance Series move with the natural movement of the ankle so speed, power and endurance are not affected, nor is vertical jump which is essential in sports like volleyball and basketball.

To achieve your top performance level while wearing an ankle brace make sure you wear a hinged ankle brace. A hinged ankle brace will allow your ankle to move through a full up and down range of motion to enhance your speed and vertical jump. Our best performance ankle brace is the Ultra Zoom model which will allow you to play better and play more, losing less time to ankle injuries.

Pickleball ankle braces

What causes Pickleball ankle injuries?

With explosive movements forward, backward, and side-to-side Pickleball can place incredible stress on the ligaments that hold your ankle joint together. Moving laterally or accidently stepping on your double’s partners foot can cause the most common ankle injury in Pickleball – the inversion ankle injury. An inversion ankle injury involves the ankle excessively rolling inward either stretching or tearing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Once the ligament is stretched from excessive ankle turning, it remains  stretched causing the ankle to become loose and often unstable, making you more susceptible to suffering from another ankle injury. The only way to stop this cycle of ankle sprains is with a proper rehabilitation program and a functional ankle brace that allows full natural ankle range of motion while providing support and stability to the ankle joint. 

Which ankle brace is the best for Pickleball?

Some pickleball players wear the lace-up style ankle supports primarily because they are inexpensive and work like a reusable ankle tape job. A lace-up is basically a corset that restricts all ankle range of motion which is not ideal when you are trying to keep the ankle strong and maximize performance. When you’re restricting normal up and down motion the ankle joint is working against the lace-up brace causing it to lose 70% of its effectiveness during the first 20 minutes of activity. Additionally, most lace-ups take too long to put on and take off and are now being replaced by more advanced technologies.

Rigid plastic ankle braces are another style of ankle supports that you may see when researching ankle braces for Pickleball. These types of ankle braces have a hinge and allow free up and down ankle motion to maximize performance and keep the muscles strong. They will provide much more ankle stability than the lace-up support because the brace moves with the ankle, not against it, so the straps stay securely in place. The downside to these braces is that the rigidity can be uncomfortable and bulky in the shoe which Pickleball players typically do not like.

A third style of ankle brace that offers the performance aspect of the hinged brace with the softness and low profile of the lace-up is the Ultra Zoom. The brace shell is made of an advanced flexible material called Performathane that uses body heat to custom-fit to the ankle. The hinged-cuff design allows your ankle to move in all the natural ways while helping to prevent any excessive movement that may cause an injury. 

For those athletes who prefer a hinged ankle brace with easy application I’d recommend the Ultra High-5 as it requires only one strap to secure. With the Ultra High-5 the bottom of the brace goes under the insole of the shoe, making the ankle brace and shoe work together to help protect you from ankle injuries. 

To sum things up, the best ankle braces for Pickleball players are the ones that are designed to move with the ankle joint and not restrict natural ankle motion. These types of ankle braces will have a molded plastic shell with a hinge that will enhance performance and provide long-lasting ankle support.

If you’re a Pickleball player with a history of ankle injuries and want to speak with one of our certified athletic trainers about your specific situation, give us a call or send us an email and we’d be happy to help.


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

Ankle sprains are one of the most commons injuries seen in athletics. Although preventative exercises can reduce the risk of an ankle sprain, some sprains are inevitable. Below is a list of actions athletes can take after an initial ankle sprain to get back to the competition more quickly.

Seek Medical Attention

After spraining your ankle it is imperative to seek medical attention. Injuries other than mild to moderate sprains that can occur when rolling your ankle include severe ligament tears, bone fractures, high (syndesmotic) ankle sprains, and more. Failure to properly identify all possible damage to your ankle may lengthen healing time – meaning more time away from your sport. Always make sure to check in with a certified athletic trainer or doctor after you sustain an ankle injury.

Move Early

Gentle range of motion exercises right after injury help to improve functional outcomes and may decrease your return-to-play time. Start by moving your ankle up and down, side to side, and in large, slow circles. I often tell my athletes to draw the ABC’s with their big toe very slowly, making the letters as big as possible. Completing these exercises with your foot elevated will help to decrease swelling as well. If bearing weight on the newly injured ankle is tolerable, you can try shifting your weight from one foot to the other while standing.

Protect and Support

When it comes to recovering from an acute ankle injury, physicians will sometimes prescribe a walking boot that restricts all ankle movement. Once a patient is ready to transition from a walking boot and resume movement, but isn’t ready to go straight to a preventative ankle brace, we recommend they wear the Ultra CTS brace.

This one of a kind, hinged ankle brace supports and protects a newly sprained ankle while encouraging athletes to move through their normal range of motion. The Ultra CTS includes a semi-rigid foot plate to decrease weight bearing pain and gives an athlete more stability on a questionable ankle, decreasing fear of movement, guarding, and painful gait patterns. As the injury heals, the Ultra CTS upper cuff can be detached to transform the brace into a low-profile activity brace.

Control Pain

If your pain prevents you from moving the joint early, use ice. Intermittent use of an ice bag or ice water bucket is a drug-free and cheap way of reducing pain and is something you can utilize before seeing a physician. Make sure to check the skin occasionally for signs of ice burn or allergy.

A compression bandage and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will also help reduce pain by decreasing the amount of swelling in the joint. The Ultra CTS and its Performathane® Custom-Fit technology does a great job of providing gentle compression and forming to your ankle but wearing a compressive bandage underneath for the first few days is even more helpful in reducing swelling.


If you’re able, find an athletic trainer or physical therapist that will give you therapeutic exercises and guidance while you perform them. Having a more structured rehab regimen will improve your recovery time. At the very least, get exercises from your physician and perform them on your own as prescribed. After spraining a ligament in the ankle, the joint needs to rely on the surrounding muscles more, making therapy exercises a must.

Help Prevent Ankle Sprains

Sports are unpredictable. Even with strong muscles, perfect biomechanics, and great conditioning, ankle sprains are still possible and in some situations highly likely to occur. If you have not yet sprained your ankle there are ways to reduce your risk of doing so:

  • Wear a preventative ankle brace that provides full range of motion. Unlike lace-up ankle braces, hinged ankle braces do not restrict natural range of motion and help prevent extreme ranges that lead to injury. You CAN reduce risk of ankle injury and not adversely affect performance!
  • Do preventative ankle exercises regularly. Reach out to a medical professional to find the best exercises for prevention. They should include not only strengthening exercises, but also plyometric and proprioceptive exercises.
  • Perform sport specific conditioning before and during the season. Doing sport-specific training will ensure your body is ready for competition and able to react to the stresses you will be placing on your ankle.

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 few weeks ago I was watching a press conference with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who was commenting on how the ankle injury he sustained in the previous game was progressing.  When explaining his ankle situation the day after the injury he said the first thing he did was to take off the walking boot, because “You can’t play in a boot.” 

As athletic trainers we often use a walking boot to calm down a recently injured ankle, but we all know the sooner you transition out of a walking boot the better.  But the real question is, transition out of a walking boot to what?

What comes after wearing a walking boot is where athletic trainers earn their money.  The transition from the safety and security of a walking boot to the next phase of returning the athlete to competition is critical.  The ankle will need some sort of external ankle brace support because tape alone is not enough.  But what kind of ankle brace would provide a good transition from a walking boot? 

If the athlete has weight bearing pain, then you will need an ankle brace that unloads or offloads the ankle.  Meaning the brace will absorb most of the impact, not the sore ankle, thus reducing weight bearing pain.  Tape and lace-up supports have a soft bottom and cannot unload the ankle.  The ankle brace design that is the most efficient at unloading the ankle is a semi-rigid hinged-cuff ankle brace.  ‘Hinged-cuff’ means it’s a hinged ankle brace but with a cuff that encircles the posterior of the lower leg.  What makes this design the most effective is because you encircle the ankle/foot and lower leg in both the vertical and horizontal plane which provides a stable platform to absorb impact and control movement. 

Now that you solved the weight bearing pain issue, the next focus is providing sufficient ankle stability to secure the injured ankle and prevent further injury.  Yes, you can tape the ankle for stability, but tape loosens the longer you wear it.  We have ruled out lace-ups because they can’t unload the ankle.  Once again, a semi-rigid hinged-cuff ankle brace is the best option because it can provide more initial and long-lasting ankle support. Because the brace is hinged, it moves with normal ankle range of motion which keeps the straps securely in place maintaining long lasting ankle stabilization.  Every knee brace is designed upon that same principle.  Also, the cuff portion of the hinged-cuff design helps to restrict excessive ankle rotation which causes syndesmotic ankle injuries

To sum things up, when you come out of a boot it’s important to unload the ankle to reduce weight bearing pain and stabilize the lower leg and ankle to prevent further injury.  The hinged-cuff ankle brace design is the most effective when transitioning from a walking boot back to competition, because you can’t play in a walking boot.

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

We hear all about it on TV and sports radio – the dreaded high ankle injury and how long we can expect the athlete will be on the sidelines compared to a regular ankle injury. But what is a high ankle injury and how does it happen? Why are high ankle injuries so much more difficult to treat?

Where a classic ankle injury is caused when the ankle turns inward, or rolls inward, a high ankle injury can occur when the ankle and lower leg twists excessively outward. Alternatively, a high ankle injury can occur if there is an excessive force on the ankle when the toes are pointing up. Unlike a classic ankle injury, a high ankle sprain is not to the ligaments surrounding and supporting the ankle, but to the tissue and ligaments that hold the lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula, together (hence the “high”).

Athletes with a high ankle injury will most likely complain of pain in the upper ankle and shin region. If an athlete believes they have a high ankle injury, they should cease activity immediately and get a quick evaluation by an athletic trainer or other medical professional. Since athletes with a high ankle injury are typically out twice as long as someone who suffers a classic or low ankle injury, it’s important to not make the injury worse by continuing activities.

Once evaluated, the sports medicine professional will most likely prescribe the common RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) for recovery as well as recommend an ankle brace designed specifically to treat a high ankle injury versus a low ankle injury. 

Since the high ankle injury is typically caused by ankle rotation, it’s important to wear an ankle brace that is going to restrict excessive rotation during recovery. The only braces to effectively restrict excessive ankle rotation utilize a “hinged-cuff” design where the cuff is the section above the ankle that connects the inside of the brace to the outside of the brace with a rigid connection. This connection combined with a semi-rigid stirrup that goes under the foot creates the stability necessary in both the vertical and horizontal plane to restrict excessive ankle rotation. 

Here at Ultra Ankle® we designed two advanced ankle braces with hinged-cuff technology that are prescribed by sports medicine professionals specifically for high ankle injuries. The Ultra High-5 (pictured) is a great sports ankle brace designed to treat both high and low ankle injuries, while the Ultra CTS ankle brace is designed to treat both high and low acute ankle injuries. Both braces will also unload the ankle which reduces weight bearing pain allowing athletes to return to competition quicker and safer.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a high ankle injury, have reoccurring ankle injuries, or an acute injury and are interested more in hearing about how our ankle braces can help you get back in the game – send our certified athletic trainer a message. We’d be happy to talk through your injuries and see if our technology would be right for 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

As a Certified Athletic Trainer the most prevalent injury I see among athletes are ankle injuries which isn’t surprising seeing as there are an estimated 25,000 ankle injuries in the U.S every day.  While athletes spend significant time on training to improve strength and agility, they really never think about training their ankle to do the same. By improving ankle proprioception (balance) and muscle strength you may be able to prevent an ankle injury, or at lease lessen the severity should an injury occur.

Ankle Strengthening

The most effective ankle strengthening exercises can be done with an inexpensive piece of resistance band (such as Thera-Band) you can purchase from any pharmacy. Resistance bands are like big rubber bands and come in various stretch characteristics such as ‘beginner’ or ‘intermediate.’ Youth athletes should be fine starting with a beginner band, while more advanced and older athletes can begin by using the ‘intermediate’ band.

Below is an example of an ankle strengthening exercise that you can perform at home. For the following you can perform 3 sets of 20 repetitions for each motion.

  • While sitting on the floor, place one end of the band around the top of the foot and hold the other end
  • Rotate or curl your foot inward for 20 repetitions
  • Rotate or curl your foot outward for 20 repetitions
  • Point your toes downward, or away from you for 20 repetitions
  • Connect one end of the band around a chair leg and the other end around the top of your foot and pull your toes upward or toward you for 20 repetitions

Balance Exercises

Balance, also know as proprioception to us athletic trainers, exercises are simple but the key is to make sure you complete them every day. Start out with the balance moves below and then as you improve, reach out to your sports medicine professional or athletic trainer for additional exercises.

  • On a flat floor stand on one leg for 30 secondsProgress to standing on one leg and have someone throw you a ball
  • Have them throw it high, low, left and right
  • Progress beyond 30 seconds as you achieve better balance, holding as long as you can up to 90 seconds on each leg
  • Switch legs and repeat
  • With one leg out in front perform a mini-squat for 10 reps. (A mini-squat would be defined as bending the knee 45º as opposed to doing a complete squat.)
  • 10 reps of the same exercise with your opposite leg to the side of your squatting leg
  • 10 reps of the same exercise with your opposite leg positioned behind your squatting leg
  • Switch legs and repeat. You will find these exercises to be a bit challenging so try to make 10 reps each and work your way up to a max of 25 reps for each step per leg.

While ankle strengthening and proprioception exercises are a great way to help prevent ankle injuries, unfortunately they will still occur. For example, no amount of joint strength can protect your ankle from rolling if you come down on another player’s foot after a rebound. This can be especially problematic if you have a history of ankle injuries, as studies show that you are 70% more likely to re-sprain your ankle after initially spraining it. Once ligaments stretch, they stay stretched, making your ankle loose, unstable, and prone to chronic ankle instability

Many times the best way to prevent ankle injuries while maintaining high levels of athletic performance is to wear a preventative, hinged ankle brace that allows for full range of motion. Any device that restricts your normal joint range of motion, such as a lace-up ankle brace, can lead to weakening of the ankle joint and restriction of high-level performance ­– which is the opposite of what bracing should help accomplish.

For those of you with more specific ankle injury prevention or ankle bracing question, feel free to send a quick message to myself or one of our certified athletic trainers and we’d be happy to talk through your situation 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