The ankles play a key role in walking and mobility. Ankles consist of an intricate network of muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones designed to bear an individual’s full body weight. When an individual experiences weak ankles or ankle pain, ankle support may be able to restore function and reduce discomfort. There are a variety of ankle support tools and mechanisms that patients can use to reinforce weak ankles.
Types of Ankle Support
When choosing ankle support, patients should consider several factors. Ankle support for injured patients will vary from preventative ankle support. Stronger, more specialized ankle support devices may be used for demanding physical activity such as sports. Generally, patients with a greater need for ankle support will require more rigid devices.
Primary types of ankle support include:
- Soft ankle braces, such as compression socks and elastic bandages
- Lace-up braces, which offer adjustable levels of pressure and support
- Rigid braces, most commonly used for injury rehabilitation
Prevent Ankle Rolling
“Rolling” of the ankle is a common term used to describe inversion and eversion. Ankle inversion occurs when the ankle rotates outward, causing the bottom of the foot to turn inward. Eversion is the opposite motion, where the ankle rotates inward, causing the bottom of the foot to turn outward. Ankle rolling is a common form of injury. A number of semi-rigid and rigid braces provide support on the side of the ankles to prevent rolling, which may cause injury or worsen existing injury.
Soft Ankle Braces
Soft ankle braces are the most common type of mild-to-moderate ankle support. Soft ankle braces are designed to apply pressure to the ankle while keeping the area warm. Soft ankle braces provide less movement restriction than other types of ankle support. Pull-on compression socks and elastic bandages are common types of soft ankle braces. These braces can be found in local retail stores, such as drugstores.
Lace-up braces are typically semi-rigid. As a result, they offer more ankle support than soft braces without heavily restricting movement. They may consist of a leather, plastic, or canvas shell with laces along the front. Lace-up braces allow for adjustment in tightness around certain areas of the foot and ankle.
Rigid braces are the most movement-restricting type of ankle support. These braces are often used for ankle support after injury. Stirrup braces are a type of rigid braces that prevent ankle rolling while still allowing the patient’s ankle to move up and down. Rigid braces may also take the form of lace-up braces with hard supports on the sides to prevent rolling. A number of athletes use rigid braces during sports that require demanding movement such as running and jumping.
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