Do Ankle Braces Help Prevent Injury During Exercise?

The ankle joints are susceptible to injury during sports and physical movements that require you to cut and change directions explosively. When you perform cutting movements and your foot tilts either too far inward or outward, you can sprain the ligaments in the ankle. Ankle braces, however, have been found to significantly decrease the risk of both initial and recurring ankle injuries.

Someone is wearing an ankle brace.
Credit: Els van der Gun/iStock/Getty Images

Ankle Brace Effectiveness

An ankle braces acts as a stabilizer, holding your ankle joint in a proper position and making it more difficult for your joint to roll inward and outward. According to a 2011 study by Dr. Timothy McGuine published in the "American Journal of Sports Medicine," ankle braces were found to reduce the rate of acute ankle injuries by 68 percent in basketball players. In a 2012 study by Dr. McGuine, football players reduced their risk of ankle injury by more than half when wearing an ankle brace. These injury risk reductions occurred even in those athletes who had already suffered from ankle injuries, which would make them more susceptible to reoccurring ankle injuries.

Dependent on Activity

Ankle braces are more important to wear during sports where you're cutting, such as basketball and football. If you're performing an exercise that involves running straight ahead, like going for a jog, your ankles aren't at a significant risk of injury.

Selecting a Brace

The health department at the University of Wisconsin recommends selecting an ankle brace that features a lace-up design. The lace-up braces feature an inside section that is laced and then overlapping straps that wrap around and secure the ankle. They note that harder, more rigid braces can cause the ankle to be too immobilized and place too much stress on the knees.

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