If you’re trying to find the right ankle support for running, you’ll need to find the right one to do the job since there are different ankle braces, sleeves and supports for different folks.
Sprained ankles are a common running injury because of the fast transference of weight from one foot to another. Take into account the often uneven terrain and unexpected curbs and potholes, and you’ll see why the ankles of runners need extra protection.
As you’re running, the ligaments, muscles, tendons, and bones keep your ankle stable. But everyone has different running patterns. Some ankles pronate (point outward), while inversion (pointing inward) happens in other ankles. Both of these can cause problems with the ankle, causing your body weight to lean in unnatural ways.
When that happens, you lose stability, so extra support needs to step in and make sure you don’t get injured.
How Ankle Supports and Braces Help Runners
That support comes in different forms, depending on the type of brace you use. Most braces are made of either a stretchy, mesh fabric or aluminium material.
If you’ve never experienced any sprained ankles or running injuries in the ankles, you probably don’t need to bother with a brace. They are all designed for people who are prone to injuries or recovering from an injury. Ankle braces prevent future or futher damage.
A popular injury prevention technique in the past was called taping. It was just as simple as it sounds, involving medical tape. They would wrap the tap tightly around the ankle to yield that extra support. While taping does work to provide that extra stability, it can be costly and time-consuming. Using and throwing away so much tape is not good for the environment either.
So ankle braces have replaced taping because of the possibility to reuse it again and again.
When Should I Use an Ankle Support for Running?
The answer to this depends on the two main reasons you would wear an ankle brace in the first place: either you’re prone to sprains or you’re recovering from a serious injury.
If you’re prone to sprained ankles – you should wear the brace every time you run. Since the point is stability, you’re going to continue needing that…especially if you do a lot of trail running.
If you’re recovering from an injury – you should wear the brace for 10 days to 6 weeks, until the swelling and soreness go down. Depending on the severity of the injury, you might be working with a physical therapist or doctor who can give you guidance on your exact timeline for the brace.
If your goal is to strengthen your ankle, we don’t advise you to wear the brace when you’re not running. After all, it becomes a crutch to your strengthening process and your body will learn to depend on it.
If your goal is healing, you’ll probably need to wear the brace throughout the day or at least while walking. Giving that ankle a chance to heal with the proper protection will help it to heal cleanly, without causing further damage down the road.
Choosing the Right Ankle Brace for Running
Here are the most common reasons to wear a brace and which brace will have the best effect on that condition:
If your ankle pronates or inverts (or moves inward): you should consider a brace with metal or plastic on either side of the foot. This will stabilize your ankle and help it to land in the right direction.
If you’re trying to manage swelling and inflammation: the soft, stretchy brace you can find at any drugstore is fine.
If you’re working on healing an existing injury: a brace that supports with plastic or velcro straps is better. You can adjust the pressure with these straps, allowing you to tighten or loosen based on the stage of healing you’re in.
Our Top 5 Ankle Brace Recommendations
No matter what led you to your search for ankle support, we’ve got all the bases covered with our 5 best picks.
We’ve chosen the best ankle brace for every running need and listed them here for you.
This affordable and stylish brace is the best option for extra support. It’s great for runners who need ankle stability for general injury prevention. With it, you’ll keep these injuries at bay:
- Sprained ankle
- Achilles tendon
- Plantar fasciitis
- Stress fractures
This ankle brace is great because it’s quick and easy to put on, while still providing the support you need. There’s no excessive wrapping required, and it comes in plenty of fun colors, rather than the typical beige-colored braces you’re used to seeing.
Other perks of the TechWare Pro:
- The design allows you to wear the brace with socks or by themselves (in case you need to wear it throughout the day as well)
- The compression reduces swelling and inflammation but doesn’t inhibit circulation
- They come in three different sizes: S/M, L/XL, and XXL
- They’re open toe, so they’ll fit you whether you have wide or narrow toes
For those of you who are recovering from an existing injury, the Zenith wrap is a great option. With shoelaces that tie up the front and an adjustable strap that doubles the security around the ankle, you’ll get stable support, while still being able to loosen or tighten as needed.
This brace will keep your ankle fully stable while still giving you the ability to walk and run comfortably.
Keep in mind that they are not one size fits all, so be sure to check their sizing chart for the right one.
If you know your ankle is prone to inversion and pronation, you need this ankle brace. With two sided supports made from aluminum, it holds the ankle in the proper position to keep you well balanced and stabilized while you run.
This brace is not easy to loosen which makes it almost impossible to slip and slide around on your foot. Even though it’s strong and stable, the style still gives plenty of room for your ankle and foot to breathe.
Once again, be sure to check the company’s size chart, since you’ll get the best results by choosing the right size for you.
With over 2,000 reviews, it comes highly recommended by customers for quick results and excellent comfort.
This high-quality brace is designed to prevent sprains and tears while adding more support than the Techware Pro.
It offers a compression sleeve and a taping strap. This way you’ll be able to prevent swelling and tighten the straps for ultimate support.
The quality of the knit material is designed to massage your skin and muscle tissue while you run, instead of the harsh, rough feeling you often get with other ankle braces.
They offer a satisfaction guarantee, which means you can return the brace for a refund or exchange within 30 days, in addition to the one year warranty that comes with your purchase.
They claim this is the best brace for those who run at high speeds and long distances. This won’t be the best for you if you’re recovering from an injury, but rather if you want to perform intense exercise with the best protection possible.
If you’re doing a lot of trail running, especially with an ultramarathon or stage race, the Ultra Zoom ankle brace is an excellent option to prevent injury on an already-prone ankle.
The technology of this ankle brace gives you ultimate support for fast and intense movement, while still freeing you up for movement and breathability. It is form-fitting but has a soft shell.
It does require a 2-3 hour break-in period, but once you have that, it actually conforms to your foot shape (providing you’ve bought the right size). The company recommends that you don’t gauge your size based on your foot size but rather by their chart.
You’ll also have to be sure you loosen your shoe strap all the way down to the bottom since the brace does add some density to your foot.
The hinged design promotes natural range of motion, even in explosive jumps. So if you are practicing agility ladders or any other explosive crosstraining, you’ll still be safe to go for it, as long you don’t have doctor’s orders against it.
When it comes to running injuries, always play it safe.
If you buy an ankle brace and still experience severe pain or your swelling doesn’t go down after a couple weeks, make sure you visit a doctor to be sure nothing is getting in the way of healing your injury.
But if all goes well, keep up the good work and enjoy your strong new ankles.