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

In this blog, I will compare two very popular ankle braces designed to help prevent the ankle injury, the Ultra Zoom® hinged ankle brace and the Ultra 360™ Lace-Up ankle brace. There are a few major differences between these two ankle brace designs which cause them to fit and function dramatically different.

ULTRA 360™ Lace-Up Ankle Brace

In the 1990’s lace-up (tie-up) style ankle braces were made popular as a reusable tape-job that the athlete can apply themselves. The Ultra 360 lace-up ankle brace is made of nylon fabric and is designed to lace-up around the ankle to lock the joint in place. There are two external straps that wrap around the ankle in a figure-8 design, like an athletic trainer would tape the ankle. This strapping method helps to restrict excessive ankle turning (inversion) that causes low ankle sprains. Lace-ups feel very restrictive/supportive when you first apply them however that support quickly diminishes once the athlete starts activity because the brace tries to restrict natural ankle range of motion. Although many athletes love the lace-up ankle brace for its low cost and low-profile design, it is viewed as an entry level ankle brace for someone that has minimal to no history of ankle injuries.

Ultra Zoom® Ankle Braces

Unlike the lace-up style ankle brace which tries to lock the ankle joint in place, the Ultra Zoom has a hinge design that allows the brace to move with the natural up and down movement of the ankle so the straps to stay securely in place maintaining longer lasting ankle support. And athletes love the freedom of movement and enhanced performance.

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

Quick Comparison: Ultra 360 Lace-Up vs. Ultra Zoom

Brace Design

  • Ultra 360: Fabric Lace-Up with Figure-8 Straps
  • Ultra Zoom: Hinged-Cuff Performathane® soft shell

Injury Protection

  • Ultra 360: Helps prevent low ankle injuries.
  • Ultra Zoom: Helps prevent low and high ankle injuries.

Support Level

  • Ultra 360: Mild
  • Ultra Zoom: Moderate to High

Mobility

  • Ultra 360: Low to moderate
  • Ultra Zoom: Very High

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 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.

The ankle remains the primary site of injury in high school and collegiate basketball for both genders. Regardless of an athlete’s physical conditioning, it’s challenging to prevent ankle injuries. Such injuries often happen in scenarios where players go up for a rebound and land on another player’s foot, or they are cutting to the basket and mistakenly step off another player’s shoe. These contacts can lead to the common inversion ankle sprain, which happens when the ankle is forced to rotate inward excessively.

Inversion ankle sprains can stretch, and sometimes tear, the ligaments in the joint, leading to extended bench time that could range from a few hours to weeks, depending on the injury’s severity. Even after resting to allow the ankle to heal, the ligaments remain somewhat stretched, making you prone to future ankle injuries. Over time, recurring ankle injuries can progressively stretch the ligaments, causing the joint to destabilize.

The best approach to interrupt or slow down this cycle of recurring ankle injuries is to wear a preventive ankle brace. The right ankle brace should be determined by evaluating the player’s position and their injury history.

Basketball Ankle Injuries by Position

Forwards and Centers are the positions most prone to ankle injuries. These players are constantly fighting for rebounds, which makes them susceptible to ankle injuries. As these are usually the largest players on the court, the forces involved when landing on another player’s foot can cause severe ankle injuries.

Guards handle the ball the most, which means they frequently make explosive cuts combined with significant acceleration/deceleration. This puts considerable stress on their ankle ligaments and tendons, leading to injuries if the load surpasses the ligament’s tolerance.

Evaluating Injury History

Understanding your specific position’s injury susceptibility is the first step to choosing the right ankle brace for basketball. The subsequent step involves determining the balance between the amount of support you need and the mobility you want.

Today, and in years past, preventative ankle braces are preferred if you’ve had no previous ankle injuries (or very few) and want to avoid future sprains. Most offer moderate stability and maximum mobility. On the other hand, if you have had a severe ankle injury and aim to return to competition quickly, an ankle brace providing maximum stability with minimal mobility is recommended. However, as we cover preventive ankle braces we will touch on an a revolutionary ankle brace that provides both maximum stability and maximum mobility.

Preventative Basketball Ankle Braces

Three main types of preventive ankle braces are currently available:

  1. Lace-ups
  2. Rigid
  3. Soft Shell

While ankle taping is another method of injury prevention, it’s proven much less effective in providing sustained support throughout a game or practice. Therefore, we will only compare the three preventative ankle brace types.

Lace-Up Ankle Braces

These braces, first introduced in 1887, restrict all ankle motion. While lace-ups may initially seem supportive due to their tight fit, they can lose support rapidly as they resist the ankle’s natural range of motion. Lace-up braces bind the ankle in the neutral position, which can hinder performance. Research has shown that hinged ankle braces provide the necessary range of motion, unlike lace-up types, enhancing strength and performance.

Rigid Ankle Braces

Rigid ankle braces consist of hard plastic with a hinge that allows full ankle range of motion (think Active Ankle T2). These braces typically have a limited usage period due to their bulkiness and discomfort over extended periods. However, they do offer good ankle support, protecting against basic “low” ankle sprains or inversion injuries. They do not, however, protect against “high” ankle sprains, which can be extremely painful and take longer to recover from.

Soft Shell Ankle Braces

The newest addition to the market, soft shell ankle braces, specifically the Ultra Ankle® Ultra Zoom®, use Performathane®, a flexible shell that custom-fits to the ankle using body heat. This custom fit offers a comfortable and low-profile ankle brace, which is easily worn for extended periods and fits well in a traditional tongue-and-lace basketball shoe. The Ultra Zoom’s hinged-cuff design restricts excessive ankle turning and twisting, thus preventing both low and high ankle injuries. Soft shell ankle braces, like the Ultra Zoom, are ideal for basketball players looking to prevent ankle injuries or those with mild to moderate ankle instability, while still keeping the mobility they need to stay competitive on the court.

 

Why Ultra Ankle Braces Stand Out

Ultra Zoom® braces outperform their competition by offering a superior combination of protection, comfort, and performance enhancement. They incorporate advanced design features that adapt to your ankle’s shape and movement, resulting in a better, more comfortable fit. This design reduces the risk of recurring injuries by providing targeted support where it’s needed most, without restricting natural motion. Moreover, Ultra Zoom® braces utilize Performathane® technology, offering a durable brace that lasts through multiple sports seasons. They are therefore a superior choice for basketball players who aim to prevent injuries while maintaining peak performance. If you have any further questions about our the Ultra Zoom or any other Ultra Ankle product, please reach out to one of our certified athletic trainers.

Maximizing Pickleball Performance: Why Ankle Braces are Crucial.

The fusion of tennis, badminton, and table tennis has birthed an electrifying sport – pickleball. It’s fun, versatile, and straightforward nature is quickly making it a favorite among individuals of all skill levels, ages, and physical conditions. However, despite the fun, pickleball can adversely impact our bodies, especially the joints, if not played with necessary precautions. Here, we delve into the crucial role ankle braces play in pickleball, their functionality, and how they can enhance your safety during play.

 

Protecting Your Ankles in Pickleball: The Role of Ankle Braces

Your ankle is a sophisticated structure encompassing bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It offers stability and mobility, enabling activities such as walking, running, jumping, and pivoting. Given that pickleball involves rapid direction changes, sudden stops and starts, jumping, and pivoting, the risk of ankle injuries is high. Additionally, once an ankle injury has occurred, it is 70% more likely to be reinjured in the future.

Ankle braces have two main purposes: providing stability to reduce injury risk and supporting an injured ankle for quicker recovery. Some braces, like the Ultra 360® Lace-Up brace, do limit ankle movement with the thought that less movement means less chance of injury. They also absorb some of the forces that would typically impact the ankle joint. Hinged Cuff braces like the Ultra Zoom®, on the other hand, provide maximum support without limiting ankle mobility. The Ultra Zoom not only helps prevent the typical ankle sprains/injuries, such as rolled ankles, but it also helps prevent high ankle injuries, which typically take much longer to recover from.

 

Advantages of Ankle Braces for Pickleball Players

Injury Prevention: Pickleball’s swift movements and directional shifts strain the ankle, increasing sprain and fracture risks. Ultra Ankle® braces help prevent the ankle from rolling or twisting beyond its usual range of motion, minimizing injury chances.

Support and Stability: Lace-Up braces, like the Ultra 360, compress the joint, helping to improve stability and enhance proprioception – the perception of body and limb positioning. The Ultra Zoom brace custom-form fits to the ankle and foot increasing stability while still providing comfort. The hinged-cuff design allows for the ankle to maintain its full range of motion without compromising mobility.

Confidence Enhancement: Ankle braces increase players’ confidence by offering an additional protective layer. This assurance allows players to concentrate on winning rather than worrying about potential ankle injuries. Why just accept ankle injuries are a part of the game?

Post-Injury Rehabilitation: Ankle braces, specifically the Ultra Zoom, can assist recovery in players who have experienced previous ankle injuries, offering support and reducing re-injury risk. Additionally, the Ultra Zoom limits the amount of micro-tears in the ankle’s tendons and muscles while moving around the pickleball court, thereby reducing the post-match soreness in the joint.

 

Selecting the Ideal Ankle Brace for Pickleball

When it comes to choosing the right ankle brace for pickleball, there are a few factors to consider. First, what will be the purpose(s) of your ankle brace? Will you be using it for injury prevention, or, will you be using it to recover from an ankle injury you’ve already sustained? It could also be a combination of both. You may want to recover from an ankle injury and prevent further injuries down the road. Our Ultra 360® ankle brace is good for injury prevention. It utilizes figure-8 straps to provide 360 degrees of support. It compresses the joint to help protect it from excessive movement and provides moderate support while still maintaining good mobility. If you are looking for maximum support with maximum mobility, our Ultra Zoom® “fits” the bill. The Ultra Zoom is a custom form-fit soft-shell brace. It molds to the ankle and foot by utilizing an athlete’s body heat. It has a Hinged-Cuff design that allows for the ankle to move in all its natural ways while preventing both high and low ankle injuries. Additionally, the Ultra Zoom is a great brace to treat and recover from ankle injuries faster as it helps to absorb impact on the joint from moving around on the pickleball court. Once recovered from an ankle injury it will also help prevent further injury to the same ankle, allowing you to get back on the court and stay on the court while losing less time to ankle injuries.

 

Final Thoughts on Ankle Braces and Pickleball Safety

While Ultra Ankle® braces offer critical support and protection, they’re part of a broader pickleball safety approach. Incorporate strength and flexibility training focusing on lower body and core muscles, wear proper footwear, and establish suitable warm-up and cool-down routines.

Recognizing the physical demands pickleball exerts helps us make informed decisions to maintain our game enjoyment. An ankle brace is a minor yet significant step towards improved pickleball performance and durability. So remember: play smart, play hard, and brace-up to stay in the game!

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.

Safeguarding your game: the CASE FOR ANKLE BRACE IN VOLLEYBALL

Volleyball players, known for their dynamic jumps, quick pivots, and intense gameplay, often face the risk of ankle injuries. Ankle braces, specifically designs like the Ultra Zoom, have emerged as essential gear for athletes looking to mitigate this risk. But why are these braces so crucial for volleyball players?

Injury Prevention

Studies have consistently shown that ankle braces can significantly reduce the risk of ankle injuries by providing stability and support during rapid movements and jumps. The effectiveness of ankle bracing in preventing both first-time and recurrent ankle injuries highlights its importance in an athlete’s protective gear arsenal.

Enhanced Performance

Wearing an ankle brace like the Ultra Zoom with a hinged-cuff design, doesn’t just protect against injuries; it can also bolster performance. By offering support and stability while not limiting the ankle’s normal range of motion, these braces can enhance the confidence of players, allowing them to push their limits on the court without fear of injury.

Cost-Effectiveness

Investing in a high-quality ankle brace is also a cost-effective decision. The expense of an ankle brace is minor compared to the potential medical costs, lost playtime, and long-term consequences of ankle injuries.

Ankle braces and Knee Injury Concerns

Some may worry about the impact of ankle braces on the knees. However, evidence suggests that while braces limit movement that could lead to sprains and strains, they do not increase the risk of knee injuries, making them safe for athletes to use as a preventive measure.

Ultra Zoom: A Superior Choice

The Ultra Zoom ankle brace stands out for its unique blend of comfort, flexibility, and protection against both low and high ankle sprains. Its design allows for natural ankle movement while guarding against the unnatural motions that cause injuries. This balance makes the Ultra Zoom a preferred option for volleyball players at all levels.

Conclusion

The combination of injury prevention, enhanced performance, and cost-effectiveness makes ankle braces an essential piece of equipment for volleyball players. With products like the Ultra Zoom, players can safeguard their health while elevating their game.

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

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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