people playing pickleball

At Ultra Ankle we have been receiving a lot of questions about Pickleball ankle injuries and what is the best ankle brace to wear when playing Pickleball to help prevent an injury or lessen the severity when an injury occurs. In the U.S. over 3 million people play Pickleball and the sport is growing rapidly. Many participants love the fitness benefits of Pickleball while others love the competitiveness and socialization. Young or old Pickleball is a fun sport you can play for a lifetime as long as an ankle injury doesn’t keep you sidelined.

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. Today, lace-ups are considered old-school and 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 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 an 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.

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. 

Tall Work Boots

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. When supporting your ankle with a brace, high-top shoes aren’t necessary. 

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.

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

One thing is certain with volleyball, every year you play the sport it becomes more and more competitive, aggressive, and intense. With the increased level of play comes an increase in injuries, which are oftentimes more severe due to the higher level of intensity athletes are consistently performing at.

Most volleyball players, parents, and coaches have come to accept that the ankle is the most injured body part in volleyball – especially for those of you who play at the net. With the jumping, cutting, and diving in volleyball a tremendous amount of stress is put on the ligaments that hold your ankle joint together. This, in addition to the dangerous environmental factors at play – such as jumping and landing on another players foot – means that the risk of hurting your ankle while playing volleyball is extremely high.

Once an ankle injury has been sustained, you are 70% more likely to re-injure your ankle. Each time your ankle ligaments get stretched or torn from excessive twisting or turning, they never regain their integrity and tightness making it easier to get another ankle sprain. This cycle of injury is common amongst competitive volleyball players and if you’re one of the people who suffers from constantly twisting or spraining your ankle then you’re probably all too familiar with this process.

As a certified athletic trainer, the best advice I can give young competitive volleyball players is to help prevent the cycle of injury before it starts by wearing a preventative ankle brace that is built for athletes and optimized to enhance their performance. Soft, lace-up ankles braces can’t provide the level or length of support serious athletes need and hard plastic ankle braces are too rigid and bulky for many players to tolerate. At Ultra Ankle, we work with some of the top competitive volleyball clubs in the country for their ankle bracing needs. Here are some of the common questions we often hear from parents or players learning more about why ankle braces are important in volleyball –

Do all players need to wear an ankle brace? Or only certain positions? While most teams require all of their players to wear preventative ankle braces due to the constant threat of jumping and coming down on another player’s foot, some teams only require those playing at the net to wear ankle braces. Since our Ultra Zoom preventative ankle brace uses a material that form fits to the ankle, it only restricts any excessive movement that causes injury while allowing you to move in all of the natural ways needed to play your sport. It’s flexible enough for defensive specialists while being  supportive enough for those playing at the net.

Do ankle braces limit my vertical jump? After training hard to maximize your performance and improve your jump height, it’s crucial that your protective gear doesn’t limit you in any way. The only ankle braces that limit your vertical are those without hinges. Any ankle brace that laces up, wraps around, or binds up your ankle is restricting your natural range of motion and therefore limiting your performance. If you play at the net its very important that you choose an ankle brace that is not going to negatively impact your vertical jump.

Will ankle braces weaken my ankle? Currently there is no clinical research that confirms wearing a preventative, hinged brace every practice or game will weaken your ankle or cause injury to another body part such as your knee. If you wear a hinged brace your ankle can move through its full range of motion keeping your joint flexible and your muscles strong.

Aren’t all hinged braces big and bulky or made of hard plastic that is prone to breaking? If you’ve been playing volleyball for awhile you may have noticed that some of the hinged ankle braces players wear are big, bulky, rigid and have a tendency for the hard plastic to crack. And you’re right. It’s because of those outdated designs that we developed the first performance based, hinged ankle brace that uses your body heat to form fit to your ankle for a low-profile, comfortable fit that will never crack or break. It’s not too soft and joint restricting, and it’s also not too bulky and hard. When it comes to volleyball ankle braces, the Ultra Zoom fits just right. It’s on your ankle in seconds, protects you consistently for hours, and lasts for years.

Will the Ultra Zoom ankle brace work for my specific ankle condition? Since every volleyball player and their ankle injury history is different, we offer the ability to message our certified athletic trainers directly to receive a customized bracing recommendation. If you’re interested in learning more about which one of our Ultra Ankle braces would be best for you, send our athletic trainers 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

After playing softball for 13 years, I’ve spent a lot of time covering collegiate and high school softball as an athletic trainer. With all of this exposure to the sport, I have noticed a reoccurrence of certain injuries within predominately the shoulder, knee, and ankle. Below are the top three most common softball injuries, their signs and symptoms, and potential treatment methods.

Softball Shoulder Injuries

Common Injuries

Overuse, Labral Tear, Rotator Cuff Tear

Occurrence

Overuse is the most common injury to the shoulder in softball. This could present as tendonitis, trigger points (knots) in the muscle tissue, or just general pain and fatigue. If the signs and symptoms of overuse are ignored, tears in the shoulder’s tissues start to occur. These tears typically occur in the labral or rotator cuff.

Signs & Symptoms

Overuse injuries often present with gradual onset of dull and achy pain, no history of specific incident of injury, general tenderness, and possible swelling.

Labral tears will present with deep, achy pain in the shoulder. Popping, clicking, grinding, and weakness are often felt with movement.

Rotator cuff tears will present with vague shoulder pain and decreased strength during specific movements of the arm. Clicking and popping may be heard or felt. Stiffness typically occurs with or without activity.

Treatment

Overuse injuries typically need rest along with a little therapy and strengthening exercises. Anti-inflammatories may also be used as recommended by your sports medicine professional. Wraps and bracing may be worn (such as a shoulder spica or sully brace) if the athlete needs to continue to play.

If a tear is present, there is a small possibility that it will completely heal without surgery. Non-invasive treatment includes complete rest, rehabilitation, and therapy. Other plans of treatment would be on a case by case basis as decided by your physician.

Softball Knee Injuries

Common Injuries

ACL Tear, Meniscal Tear

Occurrence

An ACL tear occurs when a player plants and twists the foot and leg. In softball, this can happen to a batter whose foot becomes stuck while the rest of her body is opening up as she swings or to a fielder who goes after a ball and doesn’t have time to properly set herself before making the throw and twists awkwardly on her planted foot.

A meniscal tear also involves a plant and twist mechanism but may include an applied outside force. This can happen the same way as an ACL but may also involve a collision with another player creating that outside force.

Signs and Symptoms

An ACL tear will be extremely painful at first. The athlete will hear/feel a pop or snap and then will be able to walk but the knee will feel lose and unstable. The joint will become stiff to move due to the major swelling that typically occurs.

A meniscal tear presents with deep, painful walking and the player may notice popping or clicking while using the stairs. The joint may be stiff causing decreased range of motion.

Treatment

In order to play competitively, surgery is about the only option athletes have after an ACL tear. Therapy and rehabilitation exercises will be needed before and after surgery to ensure the best results.

A meniscal tear doesn’t always require surgery. Stretching and therapy can be done to combat the discomfort the athlete may feel along with taking anti-inflammatories. Rest and ice are also helpful in conjunction with your doctor’s prescribed rehab and treatment plan.

Softball Ankle Sprains

Common Injuries

Lateral and High Ankle Sprains

Occurrence

A lateral ankle sprain occurs when an athlete lands or rolls onto the outside of the foot causing the ligaments to stretch. This can happen to a pitcher who lands on the outside of her foot, an outfielder who steps in a hole in the outfield, or a player sliding into a base and gets their foot caught.

A high ankle sprain is sustained when the foot is forced into extreme eversion (outward), forced into excessive dorsiflexion (upward), or a combination of both. This can happen to a runner whose sliding and jams her foot into the base at an awkward angle or to a fielder whose cleat gets caught in the ground as she moves for a ball.

Signs and Symptoms

A lateral and high ankle sprain will present with pain while walking with tenderness over the affected ligament. There may also be varying degrees of swelling and bruising depending on the severity of the injury.

Treatment

When it comes to twisted ankles in softball, the severity of the sprain determines the aggressiveness of the treatment. The typical protocol for an ankle sprain is rest, ice, and rehab exercises/therapy that focus on range of motion, strength, and stability

Tape or bracing may be required to keep the athlete participating while recovering. While tape may be helpful at first to apply extra compression and reduce swelling, it’s important that a player doesn’t bind their ankle in place with lace-up ankle braces or traditional taping methods in the long run. By taping and binding the ankle in place, they are working against tape while trying to run and jump – resulting in extra resistance on their joint that is actively trying to heal and/or perform.

Athletes recovering from a softball ankle injury should be wearing a hinged-cuff brace that provides full range of motion to allow the ankle to heal and regain strength while providing the stability needed to keep the ankle safe

Do you have any questions about your softball ankle injury? Let us know in the comments or send us a message and one of our certified athletic trainers will get back to you as soon as they can.

Post written by guest author Lauren Dybwad, ATC.

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

The ankle is the number one injury in men’s and women’s high school and collegiate basketball. Regardless of how strong and conditioned an athlete is, it’s hard to prevent ankle injuries when you go up for a rebound and land on another player’s foot or you are cutting to the basket and accidentally step off another player’s shoe. Most of the time these ankle injuries occur when players make contact with each other and their ankle is forced to rotate inward excessively resulting in the classic inversion ankle sprain.

Inversion ankle sprains cause the ligaments in the joint to stretch, and sometimes tear, which can keep you on the bench anywhere for a few hours or up to a few weeks depending on the severity of the injury. Regardless of how long you abstain from activity to allow your ankle to heal, the ankle ligaments remain stretched to a certain degree making you more susceptible to future ankle injuries. With each ankle injury, the ligaments become more and more stretched out and cause your joint to become more unstable over time.

The best way to stop or slow down this cycle of ankle injuries is by wearing a preventative ankle brace. When it comes to determining the appropriate ankle brace for basketball players, it’s important to start by evaluating the position you play and then the injury history you have.

Common Basketball Ankle Injuries by Position

Forwards and Centers  These two positions are the most vulnerable for ankle injuries out of everyone on the court. During every possession, players in these positions are aggressively battling for rebounds creating the perfect situations for ankle injuries to occur. Because these are typically the biggest players on the court, jumping and landing in close proximity multiple times in a row, the resulting ankle injuries from landing on another player’s foot can occur with significant force. These types of ankle injuries can be the most severe in basketball.

Guards  This position is all about ball handling which means explosive cuts combined with significant acceleration/deceleration, creating extreme stress on ankle ligaments and tendons. When the load that is associated with these movements is greater than the ligament can tolerate, ankle injuries occur.

Evaluating Injury History

After learning which types of ankle injuries you might be most susceptible to as a basketball player in your specific position, choosing the right ankle brace for basketball 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 basketball 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 Basketball 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. Taping the ankle is the least effective way to support the ankle over the course of a practice or game. A tape job will lose most of its support in the first 15-20 minutes of vigorous exercise. 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 basketball where explosive cuts and vertical power are needed to outplay your opponent. 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®, 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 basketball shoe 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 basketball shoe and 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 and are the first ever ankle braces designed for maximum performance. 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 basketball players who want to help prevent ankle injuries or players with mild/moderate ankle instability. The Performathane® soft shell is 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 basketball player with a history of ankle injuries or you are learning more about how to protect yourself from basketball 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

The great outdoors offers individuals the opportunity to improve their fitness while enjoying the beautiful surroundings that nature has provided. Sometimes, however, those beautiful surroundings can offer unintended consequences – like twisting or spraining your ankle. It’s happened to almost everyone at some point in time – you didn’t see that hole underneath those leaves and now you have a grade 2 ankle sprain preventing you from temporarily enjoying the activity you love.

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

Recovering from a hiking ankle injury

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

So, how do you stop this cycle of ankle injury when it comes to hiking, foot orienteering, or other outdoor activities? Aside from staring at the ground and being extremely careful with every step you take outside or ceasing activity altogether, you may also seek out a good ankle brace that will help prevent a future ankle injury or lessen the severity should an injury occur. When it comes to researching ankle braces it may seem like most are for geared for high intensity team sports such as football, volleyball or basketball – but which ankle brace is the best for hiking or foot orienteering?

The best ankle braces for hiking or orienteering require the following characteristics:

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

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

Long-Lasting Ankle Support –  Because of the constant movement of the ankle joint, all ankle braces loosen a bit the longer you wear them. Some ankle braces, however, loosen significantly quicker than others due to the way they are designed and the materials they are made of. Any ankle brace made of cloth or that resists normal up and down ankle movement will lose support rapidly.

An example of this type of brace would be the fabric ones that wrap around your ankle like a corset with tight laces and straps. Unlike lace-up ankle braces, hinged braces move with normal ankle range of motions keeping the components of the brace, like the straps, firmly in place maintaining long-lasting ankle support.

Durability – Just like your other gear, due to hiking and foot orienteering occurring in all environmental conditions it’s important to consider how the outdoor elements will impact your ankle brace. Rain, mud and sweat have a way of accelerating the deterioration of all materials, especially fabrics. Not only will the material deteriorate and tear faster than usual, ankle braces made of fabric will also absorb bacteria that often times results in a foul odor.

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

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

Ankle injuries are the second most prevalent injury in soccer, only behind head/facial injuries. With so much emphasis on the foot and ankle in soccer, it’s no wonder the ankle takes a beating.

Most ankle sprains in soccer occur during running, cutting or tackling. A high percentage of ankle injuries occur from direct side to side contact, as opposed to a front or back contact. Regardless of the mechanism of injury, the result is usually the ankle turning excessively inward, stretching the ankle ligaments. How much the ligaments stretch or tear will determine the extent of the ankle injury.

Types of Soccer Ankle Sprains

Grade 1 Ankle Sprain

Involves the ligament(s) being stretched and is usually accompanied by some swelling and a little soreness. This is the mildest type of ankle injury.

Grade 2 Ankle Sprain

Involves the ligament(s) partially tearing. With a grade 2 ankle injury you will typically have swelling and discoloration and you may also experience weight bearing pain.

Grade 3 Ankle Sprain

The most severe type of sprain and involves a complete tear of the ligament(s). Swelling, discoloration, weight bearing pain, and some noticeable ankle instability are associated with this type of injury.

Regardless of the extent of the ankle injury, it is always recommended to seek out medical attention from an athletic trainer, physical therapist or physician.

Ankle Injury Recovery

Please consult your physician or athletic trainer before attempting any rehabilitation exercises. Your injury may be too severe to undertake these exercises and it is always best to err on the side of caution.

RICE is the common method used by athletic trainers, coaches, and parents everywhere to quickly treat mild injuries. Follow the RICE protocol below to treat mild injuries if you’ve decided to not immediately see a medical professional.

Rest – Decrease your activity so your ankle has time to start healing.

Ice – You can apply ice to your injured ankle in the following ways:

  • Ice in a plastic bag (Apply to the ankle for 20-25 minutes)
  • Ice made in a paper cup (Apply to the ankle for 8-10 minutes and rip off the top of the paper cup as the ice melts)
  • Immersion in ice water (5-10 minutes)

You should ice your ankle many times a day with at least 30 minutes between each ice application.

Compression – Compression helps to reduce swelling, so tightly wrap an elastic bandage around the ankle and loosen the wrap if it becomes uncomfortable.

Elevation – Elevate the ankle above the level of your heart to reduce blood flow to the area and help alleviate increased swelling.

Returning to Competition

Ankle ligaments are non-elastic which means once they have been stretched as the result of an injury the ankle will become more unstable and susceptible to yet another injury.  Before returning to competition it’s a good idea to seek out an ankle brace that can help prevent another ankle injury. Before you start your soccer ankle brace search, it’s extremely important to understand the different ankle brace designs and how they may affect ankle strength, range of motion and performance.

Some soccer 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. Lace-ups became popular as a replacement for the ankle tape job, which loses 70% of its effectiveness during the first 20 minutes of activity. 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 works against the lace-up causing it to lose support rapidly

Rigid plastic ankle braces are another style of ankle brace.  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 protection than the lace-up support because the brace moves with the ankle, not against it so the straps stay securely in place maintaining long last support.  The downside is because these braces are rigid they can be uncomfortable and bulky which soccer 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.

Regardless of which type of ankle injury prevention methods you use as a soccer player, safely competing at a high level should always be one of your top priorities. If you’re a player with a history of soccer ankle injuries and want to speak with one of our certified athletic trainers about your specific situation, give us a call or send us a message 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