Choosing The Right One
braces come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They can be purchased
from sporting goods stores, from your doctor, even the pharmacy. Not
all braces are created equal, and choosing the right one can
sometimes be tricky if you don't know what to look for.
WhatDoes It Do, Exactly?
Well, it braces your ankle.
Seriously though...a brace can provide additional support to the
ankle ligaments and muscles, contributing to improved stability and
ankle control. How exactly does it do this?
braces provide compression around the ankle. This helps to increase the
within the ankle
joint, allowing the muscles to function
more effeciently. That is the primary benefit of an ankle brace.
ankle braces are nothing more than just an elastic material shaped to
fit around the ankle. I refer to these as ankle sleeves. They may help
to make the ankle feel better, but they do not provide any real
support. For very minor ankle sprains, they may be effective. They work
through compression and increased proprioception, not through actual
No matter what type of ankle
injury you have, if you are purchasing a brace, you should find one
that completely surrounds the ankle. This will ensure good compression,
and you will get the most out of the brace through improved
Prevention or Treatment?
usually do not recommend wearing a brace to my patients unless
they have had a recent
Some people will
tell you to wear
a brace to help prevent injury. I wish that there was a brace out there
that could prevent ankle sprains, but there isn't. The amount of force
that can occur at the ankle when you land on it wrong is very strong,
and most braces will not prevent a sprain.
ankle rehab program
is much better
for preventing ankle sprains than a
If you have had a recent ankle sprain, a
brace is a good idea, especially the first few weeks after you return
to your sport. It will help provide compression and support to the
ankle, and will help the muscles work more effeciently.
is not a
cure all, and should not take the place of a good rehab program after
your ankle sprain. I also recommend to my patients that they try to
work out of the brace after a few weeks.
What To Look For
A good brace will completely surround the
ankle, it will have some way to adjust tightness, such as laces or
velcro, and it will have supporting straps that wrap around the heel.
favorite, and the one that I recommend to all of my
patients comes with two different straps that wrap around the heel from
both sides. I believe that this style of brace offers the most
structural support, as well as the best compression to improve
Not all braces come with straps,
but if you have the choice, I highly recommend one that does. Sturdy
straps with velcro attachments will help to keep your ankle stable
Some braces do not completely
surround the ankle. They may be stirrup type braces that only cover the
outside parts of the ankle. While they may provide some support, they
do not provide as much compression, and so the proprioception function
of the brace is limited.
Braces that do not have
laces or some way to adjust the tightness can be less effective because
you can't keep them tight throughout your game or practice. Even braces
that can be laced up and that have straps will need to be adjusted once
you have started playing.
I highly recommend the Ankle Stabilizing Orthosis, or ASOâ„¢ ankle brace.
is the one that I put all of my patients in.
to other braces,
it provides superior support because of the two heel straps. It also
completely surrounds the ankle, providing good compression for
increased proprioception. It is very well made, and will stand
to the wear and tear of a full season of sports.
can find the ASO at many sporting goods stores, and even on ebay for a
reasonable price, usually around $20-30.
an ankle brace can be tricky, but if you follow these guidelines you
should come home with a good and effective ankle brace. Make sure that
you choose a size that fits well, and follow the instructions for
proper application. Remember that an ankle brace should not be used in
place of a good ankle rehab program.
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