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.

Do ankle braces weaken ankles

As a seasoned athletic trainer with over three decades of experience and 15+ patents in ankle brace design, I frequently get asked – “Do ankle braces weaken the ankle?” Especially in sports like volleyball, basketball, and football, where ankle injuries are prevalent, players wear ankle braces during games and practices to prevent sprains or reduce severity if an injury occurs. This common practice has led parents, coaches, and players to question the potential negative impact on ankle strength.

Understanding The Ways to Weaken A Joint

There are only two ways to weaken a joint and its supporting muscles:

  1. Non-usage of the joint: Typically observed post-surgery, when muscles atrophy due to non-use.
  2. Restricting joint range of motion: If a joint is restricted or bound up for an extended period of time, preventing full range of motion, muscle weakening may occur.

Since athletes frequently use and strengthen their joints through drills and conditioning exercises, the primary concern is the potential weakening of the ankle by restricting its normal range of motion.

Do Any Ankle Braces Restrict Joint Range of Motion?

Unfortunately, yes. The lace-up (or corset style) brace restricts much of the ankle joint range of motion, including the essential up and down ankle motion needed for running and jumping. This restriction is due to the binding of laces and/or tight wraparound Velcro straps. A recent university study found that lace-ups significantly decreased ankle joint range of motion and isokinetic measures of muscle torque, total work, and power. In simpler terms, the lace-up brace adversely affects ankle range of motion and strength.

Are There Ankle Braces That Do Not Weaken The Ankle?

Fortunately, yes. Hinged ankle braces, which allow full unrestricted up and down ankle range of motion, do not weaken the ankle. These braces have hinges on each side of the ankle bone, allowing the brace to move with the ankle, unlike lace-ups that move against it. This synchronized movement ensures that any straps stay securely in place, maintaining long-lasting ankle support.

There are two commonly used styles of hinged ankle braces by athletes – hinged and hinged-cuff. The ‘hinged only’ braces, introduced in 1989, primarily restrict excessive ankle turning or “inversion.” Popular brands include Active Ankle, McDavid, and Shock Doctor.

On the other hand, ‘hinged-cuff’ ankle braces, like the Ultra Zoom®, restrict not only excessive ankle turning (“inversion”) but also rotational twisting, helping prevent both high and low ankle sprains. Brands of hinged-cuff ankle braces include Ultra Ankle, Don Joy, and Ossur.

Conclusion

While some ankle braces, like the lace-up style, can restrict joint range of motion they do not necessarily weaken the ankle. A lace-up brace would have to be worn over an extended period of time to cause any major damage. Hinged and hinged-cuff ankle braces, however, do not have any negative impact on the strength and movement of the ankle joint. However, if you want to prevent ankle injuries, I do suggest wearing and ankle brace of some kind. Please note, neoprene sleeves are not ankle braces and provide zero support.

If you have more questions about ankle braces and their effects on ankle strength, feel free to leave a comment below or send us a message. We are here 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

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.

Why Parents Trust Ultra Ankle Ultra® Zoom Braces for Their Kids: Ensuring Safety with Advanced Ankle Support

As parents, we prioritize our children’s safety and well-being, especially when they are involved in sports and physical activities that may put them at risk for injuries. In these situations, protective gear is a must, and among the many options available, ankle braces are essential. One standout brand parents trust is Ultra Ankle, specifically the Ultra Zoom®, and for good reasons.

  1. Superior Support and Protection:

Ultra Zoom® braces offer robust and high-quality design that provides exceptional ankle support while still allowing for maximum mobility. Designed to stabilize and help prevent the ankle from injuries such as sprains, twists, and rolls, they are a top choice for parents whose kids play high-intensity sports like football, volleyball, or soccer.

  1. Innovative Design:

Ultra Zoom® braces feature advanced technology and an innovative design. The hinged-cuff design limits excessive movement that could lead to high ankle injuries while maintaining enough flexibility for peak performance. This means your young athlete will stay in the game and not on the sideline with an ankle injury. This balance between safety and performance is why many parents opt for Ultra Ankle.

  1. Comfort and Fit:

Ultra Ankle braces are celebrated for their snug fit and comfort, ensuring that kids can wear them for extended periods without feeling restricted or uncomfortable. Ultra Ankle braces, specifically the Ultra Zoom, custom form-fit to the athlete’s foot and ankle through body heat. This is perfect for growing children who need consistent and reliable support over several seasons of play.

  1. Durability:

Durability is a major selling point for Ultra Ankle braces. Made from high-quality materials, these braces can withstand rigorous physical activity, giving parents value for their money and the assurance that their child’s safety gear is up to the task. The Ultra Zoom brace can last up to 3 full seasons depending on use and demands put on the brace.

  1. Ease of Use:

Designed with usability in mind, Ultra Ankle Ultra Zoom braces are easy to put on, adjust, and take off, which is an essential feature for kids who might need to use them independently. This ease of use enhances their appeal among both kids and their parents. This differs from taping or lace-up braces which are both time consuming to put on and take off.

  1. Positive Reviews and Experiences:

Ultra Ankle braces have been positively received by professionals in the sports and health industries and parents alike. A user review from a parent named Sarah states, “My daughter has been using Ultra Ankle braces for her volleyball games, and they have been a game-changer. I no longer worry about her getting injured on the court. Plus, she loves how comfortable they are.” Another parent, John, shared, “I got Ultra Ankle braces for my son who plays soccer. They’ve stood up to some tough games, and he’s been injury-free. Highly recommended for any young athlete.”

These endorsements and positive experiences have helped build trust and a strong reputation for Ultra Ankle braces, making them a preferred choice among parents.

To summarize, parents prefer Ultra Ankle braces for their children because of their advanced design, superior support, durability, and positive reviews. Not only do these braces protect young athletes’ ankles, but they also provide parents with the assurance they need when their children are out on the field or court.

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

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.

Athletes

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
We are all familiar with preventative knee bracing for linemen, but what about the ankle? After all, when these big guys are battling in the trenches they tend to get their ankle stepped on, fallen on and overall abused. Many times, the mechanism of injury is external rotation which causes the dreaded syndesmotic (high) ankle injury. With the amount of exposures these linemen have to ankle injuries in practice and games would it be wise for them to use both preventative knee and ankle bracing? When consider preventative ankle bracing for football lineman, there are a few priorities to keep in mind to ensure they are getting the best brace for their specific needs.

Compliance & Comfort

As with any sports medicine product, an ankle brace is only effective if the athlete wears it in the first place – which means athlete compliance should be a top priority. One of the biggest reasons we hear as to why athletes aren’t wearing an ankle brace recommended to them by a sports medicine professional is because it’s too uncomfortable to wear during activity. Any preventative ankle brace worn by lineman through long practices and tough games must be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time so they will actually keep it on. Typically, when looking for a “comfortable” ankle brace, athletic trainers lean towards the lace-up, cloth type of braces and keep away from the harder, rigid plastic ankle braces. Lace-up style braces may be comfortable during activity, but they lose support rapidly, while rigid plastic braces that may provide good support are often uncomfortable, big and bulky. In the past decade, newer materials have been developed in ankle bracing so that athletic trainers no longer must choose between low support cloth braces or rigid plastic braces. Ultra Ankle braces, for example, are designed with this newer, flexible material that uses a player’s body head to form-fit to the ankle. This new thermoplastic material provides the strength to stabilize the ankle with the comfort factor needed for athlete compliance.

Effective Hinged-Cuff Design

When athletic trainers are considering new ankle braces for their athletes, they are not only worried about the comfort level and materials but also the reasoning behind the design of the ankle brace. When it comes to choosing an ankle brace for football lineman, you want to choose one that can help restrict excessive inversion/eversion and external rotation that causes syndesmotic ankle injuries. This priority really narrows the field down to ankle braces that have a hinged-cuff design. Where the hinge allows full plantar and dorsiflexion (which is great for getting down in your stance) the cuff encircles the posterior lower leg and provides the stability  necessary to help prevent excessive external ankle rotation.

durable enough to last an entire season

Once you’ve found a comfortable ankle brace that athletes will wear and that utilizes a design that helps prevent both low and high ankle injuries, the only thing you have left to worry about is how long that brace will last. If your ankle braces are rapidly losing support during activity and causing injuries or breaking/cracking half way through the season then they are not only terrible for your budget, but very unreliable. The best ankle braces for athletes such as lineman must be durable enough to last an entire season and still be effective at controlling excessive joint movement. When looking into preventative ankle braces for football players, make sure to check out the product’s warranty. If a product isn’t guaranteed, then how do you know it will be effective and durable enough for your high performing athletes? Our preventative ankle brace, the Ultra Zoom, will never crack, break or tear. It will maintain its structural integrity over multiple seasons, saving you money and giving your athletes the peace of mind. It’s on in seconds, protects consistently for hours and lasts for years.

Football Lineman & Ankle Braces

Collegiate football teams that have decided to implement preventative ankle bracing for their lineman have found this to be an effective strategy at reducing injuries. However, it takes both the will of the athletic trainers and coaches to implement and enforce the program and an ankle brace that can deliver the comfort, effectiveness and durability necessary to make the program successful. Our in-house athletic trainers work with top collegiate and pro football teams to implement ankle bracing protocols that benefit players by keeping them safely in the game while playing their high-impact sport. If you have any questions about preventative ankle bracing for lineman or would like more information on how to implement a new ankle bracing protocol for your football team send us a message or leave us a comment 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

Unlike most sports where ankle injuries are caused by players coming in contact with another athlete, this is certainly not the case in tennis. In tennis, the ankle injury is typically caused by extreme forward, backward and lateral movements that place significant stress on the ligaments of the ankle. These ligaments cannot handle the additional load and eventually an ankle injury occurs.

The majority of ankle injuries in tennis are caused by the ankle turning excessively inward, stretching and/or tearing the ligaments on the lateral (outer) side of the ankle resulting in what is known as an inversion ankle sprain. Once the ligaments in the ankle become stretched, they stay stretched making the ankle more unstable and susceptible to future ankle injuries. If you’re a tennis player with a history of ankle sprains, it’s important to stop the cycle of ankle injuries early to eliminate future joint issues and/or losing the ability to play the game.

The best way to prevent ankle injuries and reduce stress on the ankle ligaments is to wear a functional ankle brace – but which ankle brace is the best for tennis players?

Ankle Braces to Help Prevent Twisting Your Ankle

Some tennis players wear the lace-up style ankle supports primarily because they are low profile and upon initial impression they appear to provide good ankle support. 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.  Also, by restricting normal up and down ankle motion, the ankle joint works against the lace-up brace causing it to lose support rapidly. Lace-ups became popular as a replacement for the ankle tape job, which itself loses 70% of its effectiveness during the first 20 minutes of activity, but are now commonly being replaced by more advanced technologies.

Rigid plastic ankle braces are another style of ankle supports that you may see when researching the best ankle braces for tennis. 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 feel bulky which tennis 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 full ankle range of motion and the cuff helps to restrict excessive ankle turning and twisting which causes both low and high ankle sprains.

To sum things up, the best ankle braces for tennis players are the ones that are designed to move with the ankle joint and not restrict normal up and down ankle motion. These types of ankle braces will have a hinge that allows full up and down ankle movement to enhance performance and provide long-lasting ankle support.

If you’re a tennis 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

Football ankle sprains are extremely common and are often a reason why players are forced to miss multiple practices and games each season. When it comes to determining the appropriate ankle brace for football players, it’s important to start by evaluating the position you play and then the injury history you have.

Common Football Ankle Injuries by Position

Lineman This position often suffers high ankle sprains due to linemen tackling and falling on each other’s ankles causing the ankle to externally rotate and injuring the ligaments above the ankle. With a high ankle injury, you will want a brace that has a hinged-cuff design that restricts excessive ankle rotation.

Defensive Backs, Receivers and Running Backs These positions often injure their ankles while cutting or landing from a jump. This is known as the classic ankle sprain where the ankle turns inward, often called an “inversion” ankle sprain. For the most part, all ankle braces are designed to restrict excessive ankle inversion.

Evaluating Injury History

After learning which types of ankle injuries you might be most susceptible to as a football player in your specific position, choosing the right ankle brace for football is all about determining how much support you need versus how much mobility you want.

If you’ve had a previous ankle injury that is now healed and want to prevent future ankle sprains, the preferred ankle brace would be a preventative one which could provide moderate stability and maximum mobility. However, if you currently have a severe ankle injury and want to return to competition as soon as possible, your ankle brace should provide maximum stability and minimal mobility. Typically, the types of ankle braces preferred in this situation are referred to as acute ankle injury braces.

Preventative Football Ankle Braces

There are three main types of preventive ankle braces available on the market today:

  1. Lace-ups – Fabric based lace-up design with wrap around straps
  2. Rigid – Semi-Rigid hinge design with attachment straps
  3. Soft Shell – Flexible hinged-cuff design with attachment straps

Another injury prevention method that can be administered by sports medicine professionals, while not a type of brace, is ankle taping. Despite studies showing that taping an ankle is 3 times more expensive than wearing a rigid brace, there is still a time factor that needs to be calculated into having your ankle taped every time you’re ready to hit the field. After the tape is applied, it quickly loses support and is less durable over time rendering it less effective than a brace. For that reason, we are only going to compare the three preventative ankle brace types below and omit the option of ankle taping.

Lace-Up Ankle Braces

Lace-up ankle braces were first introduced in 1887 as a basic corset design that restricts all ankle range of motion. Lace-up braces of today will typically have straps that wrap around the ankle in a figure-8.

Since these braces can be laced up as tight as possible, they may give the wearer a false sense of support when they are first applied, however they lose support quickly as they resist the ankle’s natural range of motion. This is especially detrimental in football where muscle power and torque may be higher than lower impact sports. While lace-up ankle guards may feel comfortable because they are made from fabric, this fabric is also less durable and will easily rip and tear over time… not to mention absorb odors and start to smell pretty bad.

Research studies have shown that lace-up ankle braces can restrict performance by resisting the natural up and down range of motion of the ankle. This is one reason why we recommend athletes wear a hinged ankle brace for prevention purposes – this way the ankle does not weaken over time due to being held tightly in place. While all hinged ankle braces are not the same, they do provide the necessary range of motion to enhance ankle strength and performance unlike the lace-up type braces.

Overall, the lace-up ankle brace is designed for individuals on a budget needing mild ankle support that are not engaging in competitive and/or high intensity activity. Some of the better brands in this category are McDavid®, ShockDoctor®, Active Ankle® and ASO®.

Rigid Ankle Braces

Rigid, or semi-rigid ankle braces are made of hard plastic and typically have a hinge that allows full up and down ankle range of motion.  The rigid hinged ankle brace was first introduced commercially in 1985. A pivoting hinge connecting the bottom foot section on both sides of the ankle to an upright section that was secured with a strap to the lower leg.  The innovative hinge design offered the athlete free up and down ankle motion to run and jump without restriction. With the brace moving with the ankle, and not against it like with lace-ups, the brace stays securely in place maintaining longer-lasting ankle support.

Typically, these types of braces are only worn for a limited period of time for a couple of reasons: 1) Since the brace is rigid or semi-rigid it can be bulky to wear, and trying to fit the brace in a tight-fitting football cleat can be difficult and/or 2) The more rigid the ankle brace is the more uncomfortable it can be to wear for extended periods of time.

Hinged ankle braces are good for individuals looking for moderate ankle support to help protect or prevent the basic “low” ankle sprain or inversion (turning) ankle injury. Brands in this category are Active Ankle® and McDavid®.

Soft Shell Ankle Braces

The newest type of ankle brace to hit the market is the “soft shell” design, trademarked Performathane®.  The shell of the brace is flexible and uses body heat to custom-fit to the ankle. This custom-fit creates a very comfortable and low-profile ankle brace that is easy to fit in a football cleat and be worn for extended periods of time. The concept behind the flexible shell is to get as close to the skin as possible and by doing so you can control excessive joint motion more effectively while still allowing for a little side to side natural range of motion.

Performathane® based ankle braces utilize the most advanced hinged-cuff designs on the market that were first introduced in 2000. Where hinged-only braces restrict excessive ankle turning, the hinged-cuff design restricts excessive ankle turning and twisting to help prevent both low and high ankle injuries. Hinged-cuff ankle braces offer a higher level of protection than either the lace-up or hinged only ankle brace designs can provide.

The soft shell ankle brace is best for football players who want to help prevent ankle injuries or players with mild/moderate ankle instability. These football ankle braces are extremely durable and will last multiple sports seasons.

Acute Ankle Injury Braces

When bracing an acute ankle injury, the brace needs to provide significant lower leg and ankle stability while unloading the ankle to reduce weight bearing pain. “Unloading” is the process of reducing the load, or impact to the sore ankle or at least reducing the load enough so the athlete can play with minimal or no pain. The Ultra CTS is the only ankle brace that is specifically designed to brace acute ankle injuries for return to competition using a hinged-cuff design that restricts excessive ankle turning (“inversion”) and twisting (“rotation”) to help prevent and protect both high ankle low ankle injuries.

If you, or your child, is a football player with a history of ankle injuries or you are learning more about how to protect yourself from football ankle sprains and you have any questions please send our certified athletic trainers a message or leave a comment 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