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.
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:
- The ankle brace is very difficult to fit inside your tall work boot, or
- 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.
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