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Are Ankle Guards Good or Bad for Runners?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Are Ankle Guards Good or Bad for Runners?
Ankle injuries are common in runners. Photo Credit: Jordi Lopez dot/Hemera/Getty Images

Ankle guards, also known as ankle braces, are designed to support and protect your ankles from injury. Ankle guards are used by runners and other athletes to prevent ankle sprains. However, prolonged use of ankle guards might reduce the range of motion of your ankle joints. Wearing ankle guards over the long term might cause your muscles to adapt, resulting in diminished support and weakening your ankles.

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Strong ankles are crucial for running because they support the rest of your body. Weak ankles provide improper support and are more prone to injury. If you have weak ankles or have injured your ankle, wearing ankle guards can help compress and stabilize your ankle. Wearing ankle guards is particularly beneficial if you have sprained your ankle in the past. Ankle guards help reduce the recurrence of ankle sprains, according to orthopedic technician John Vonhof.


A push ankle brace is based on the principle of functional tape bandage. It supports the ankle joint, and the pressure is adjustable. Researchers at the Department of Kinesiology in Belgium examined the effect of push ankle braces worn by long-distance runners. The study, published in the April 1997 issue of the "International Journal of Sports Medicine," found that these types of ankle guards appear to protect runners from ankle injuries associated with overuse.

Reduces Speed

Lace-up ankle guards provide heavy-duty support to prevent ankle injuries. There's a concern that this type of brace may restrict your ankles' functional range of motion in a way that hinders performance. A review published in the March 1999 issue of the journal "Sports Medicine" reviewed literature on how lace-up ankle guards affect running speed. Researchers found clinical data showing that lace-up ankle guards negatively affect running speed.


A variety of ankle guards are available. Functional ankle guards are designed to support your ankle without restricting range of motion. Choosing a more restrictive type of ankle guard may influence your running speed. Ankle guards might help protect you from reinjuring your ankle. Whether or not ankle guards are right for your situation is based on a number of factors. Discuss your concerns with a doctor trained in sports medicine.

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