If you find yourself in need of an ankle brace and aren’t sure where to begin looking, we offer some useful tips below as well as highlight the best ankle braces for running.
The debate as to whether or not you should wear an ankle brace while running is a common one, and it’s always a good idea to research before you start using one.
Ankle brace shopping…simplified!
Top Ankle Braces for Running at a glance
|Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer
|SB SOX Compression Ankle Brace (Pair)
|Zensah Ankle Support – Compression Ankle Brace
|Zenith Ankle Brace, Lace Up Adjustable Support
|POWERLIX Ankle Brace Compression Support Sleeve
Top Ankle Brace for Running Reviews
Figure 8 straps provide secure ankle support, which, if you doctor or physical therapist has recommended a brace like this this, you can be confident you’re getting a strong and secure brace. Much of the strength comes from the straps, so don’t worry about lacing the laces too tight.
The brace fits either foot, and is manufactured in the USA, which is a bonus. While you just get one in the package, at least you don’t have to worry about choosing the right foot. We do recommend to double-check your size before ordering.
Runners report a reduction of pain when wearing for swollen ankles, which makes sense, but is not always the full solution to your ankle problems. Compression sleeves help with circulation which can help with moving toxins away from your joints and muscles. Reviews show it’s easy to take on and off, which is a bonus for anyone with a hurt ankle.
Reviews show this is a good compression sleeve, but less support than a brace with straps. One thing to be cautions of is this does not fit well with extra-wide feet.
What Does an Ankle Brace Do?
Braces provide your ankles with stability and support and those who have already suffered from an injury most often need them. An injured ankle can benefit from a brace or sleeve since it will help reduce any swelling.
Some feel that wearing a brace will prevent injury while others disagree with this idea. Some medical experts mention how an ankle brace is not necessarily the solution, when physiotherapy or strength training might be the long term solution. Whatever your thoughts and opinions about them are, remember that these factors also play a role:
- Targeted exercises and stretches will help you strengthen your ankle muscles. (See How to Warm Up for a Run)
- Previous injuries make you more at risk for new injuries.
- Your footwear greatly affects your ankle stability.
- You don’t have to wear the brace all the time.
Should I wear an Ankle Brace for Marathon Training?
If you are increasing your mileage in preparation for a longer race (like an Ultra Marathon), those extra miles can put a strain on your ankles. You have a few options when faced with ankle pain. The first option that we always recommend, is if you feel it’s serious, check with a doctor. You may get a recommendation to work first on strength training and stabilization muscles before increasing running volume.
The next thing you can do it rest. As we mention in our guide to choosing a running coach, it takes an average of 22 days for your body to recover from the stress running puts on your body. If you have the luxury of time, take a rest, add some walking into your schedule, focus on some low stress activities like cycling or swimming (yes this was written by a Triathlete) or hey, why not dressage – whatever floats your low impact cross-training boat.
Does Ankle Support Help Runners Knee?
As explained by hopkins medicine, runners knee is “dull pain around the front of the knee (patella). This is where the knee connects with the lower end of the thighbone (femur).”
Some of the causes of runners knee include poor foot support and running with your foot rolling inward while the thigh pulls the knee-cap out. An ankle support may help this in the short term while you pursue longer term options which in any case should be diagnosed by a medical professional.
How to Choose a Running Ankle Brace
There are many considerations when choosing an ankle brace. Our research has shown you’ll look at primarily support and comfort when making a choice. The tricky thing about running is you can’t get full immobilization, because your ankle plays such a key role in running form, but you need that support to prevent further injury.
Marathons, Trail Running, Leisure Running. Those who focus solely on running as a sport go about it in many different ways. Some jog after work, some train for marathons and others head out on overnight trail runs that have their feet moving a million different directions.
Will an ankle brace fit in my shoe?
All of the ankle braces reviewed and recommended in this article are built for more active use, which means they will fit in a shoe. One difference you will find is some are best when over the sock, some are better when placed under the sock.
Either way the choices you find here will fit in your shoe.
If you are an Ultra Runner, you will want to make sure the brace fits your running gaiter. For those not into trail running, a gaiter helps keep unwanted debris out of your shoes. Our recommendation is buy a larger gaiter to make sure it fits around the brace.
Will an ankle brace help Achilles Tendonitis?
Healthline tells us “There are two types of Achilles tendonitis: insertional Achilles tendonitis and noninsertional Achilles tendonitis.”
- Insertional Achilles tendonitis affects the lower portion of your tendon where it attaches to your heel bone.
- Noninsertional Achilles tendonitis involves fibers in the middle portion of the tendon and tends to affect younger people who are active.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis by a medical professional, one of the treatments does include wearing a brace to reduce heel movement. But this does not mean wear a brace and start running again, a brace need to be part of the solution, including rest and other treatments. As always follow the doctor’s orders.
Determining ankle circumference for an ankle brace
Some braces are measured by ankle circumference. Here is a table thanks to CEPCompression to help you determine the right size:
|6.75-8 in / 17-20 cm
|8-8.75 in / 20-22 cm
|8.75-9.5 in / 22-24 cm
|9.5-10.25 in / 24-26 cm
|10.25-11 in / 26-28 cm
|11-11.75 in / 28-30 cm
Why are some Ankle Braces Left or Right Foot Only?
Left Foot or Right Foot braces have specific form because your foot is not identical, it’s a mirror image (more of less). This is like wearing your left glove on your right hand. Make sure you double check which foot the ankle brace is designed for.
What types of Ankle Support are There for Runners?
There are different levels of protection offered by braces including:
- Level 1. General use, for minor injuries or pain relief. Compression sleeves are a good example.
- Level 2. A moderate protection level for minor to moderate injuries.
- Level 3. For major injuries and the maximum amount of support.
Compression Sleeve for added Stability
A compression sleeve for ankle stability is not the ankle compression you’re thinking of – the one that most marathoners seem to have on, whether training on the road or shopping for groceries. No, the compression sleeve that can help with stability is a sleeve that goes down over your ankle, your heel and around your foot.
If you find yourself shopping for a sleeve-style brace, our recommendation is to focus on the type of material, the stitching quality, and the stretch. If you’ve used one before, you’ll understand there is nothing as fun as pulling an extra tight ankle sleeve off over an injured ankle. That thing might never come off – and that’s a problem I can’t solve here.
Rigid and Lace-up Ankle Support for runners
Rigid anlke support for runners comes in a few forms. If you’re in need of a rigid brace, I hope that means you’ve also coordinated with a medical professional, and perhaps you’re now looking to the internet to buy something specific to runners. This is a common problem, as medical supply stores often have basic choices, targeted at the general population.
Just make sure not to stray from the Dr.’s orders, and if there is any question, bring the brace you buy online to your next appointment. They will help you confirm the proper use and effectiveness of the option you choose.
Which material is best for a running Ankle brace?
When choosing a running ankle brace you can find many different materials. People’ skin can react to various materials, and often an ankle brace will be in contact with your skin.
Ease of laundry is another factor to consider. Can you throw the ankle brace in with your running clothes? Or do you need to hand-wash it? You’ll see both options, and need to choose based on how much that matters to you. If a brace confirms that it’s bacteria resistant, that is a good sign, because it means you can wash the brace less often.
Stretch and comfort matters to most runners, as you’re not buying this to limp around the house, you want to get out and be free again! That goal will only be met if you have a good time wile out running. Materials that have added comfort for a runner include spandex, neoprene, and lycra.
Hypoallergenic materials in any running accessories are important. The more natural a fabric is, the more hypoallergenic it should be. Natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and bamboo can be hypoallergenic, but don’t necessarily make the best moisture-wicking running fabric. Often a blend is your best option for breathability and a low chance of reaction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you wear ankle brace while running?
Yes if you are having pain after an injury an ankle brace will prevent unwanted twisting movements. But this is not a long-term solution and a brace will not help strengthen your ankle.
What is the best ankle brace for running?
The Med Spec ankle support was our favorite ankle brace. Hundreds of runners in our research point to comfort, fit, and the fact it works for running, even long distances.
Can I run with ankle support?
Yes, there are ankle supports specifically designed for running. Consult with your doctor first.
How do I stabilize my ankle for running?
You need to strengthen your ankle muscles and calf muscles with stabilization exercises. You can also wear ankle support or tape until your muscles are fully strengthened, but this is not a long-term solution and keep doing your exercises. A physiotherapist can give you a complete program.
Should you wear ankle support while running?
Yes if you are going to run after recovering from an ankle injury a support can prevent twisting movements which will reduce your pain. You should speak with your doctor first before you begin running.