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How to Choose an Ankle Brace

Contents on this page:
  1. How To Select An Ankle Brace. Why use an Elastic Brace?
  2. Why use a Neoprene Brace?

How to Select an Ankle Brace

Ankle braces can provide different levels of support from mild to intense. So it is important to wear the proper brace to allow your ankle to heal properly. A brace that is not supportive enough can lengthen the healing process and lead to possible re-injury. Braces are categorized by the severity of the injury: grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3. To choose the correct brace, you have to know what grade of injury you have.

Find the ankle brace that is just right for your injury by selecting the grade of injury that best matches your symptoms:

  • Grade 1 Mild Symptoms
    • Little to no swelling
    • Mild pain
    • Mild limited range of motion
    • Weight bearing and walking are still possible

If you have a mild or grade 1 sprain, use a compression brace that fits snugly but allows full range of motion of the ankle. This type of brace is meant to help with very mild joint support as well as provide compression to help reduce swelling (if any). You can use either an elastic or neoprene brace.

View Grade 1 Ankle Braces

  • Grade 2 Moderate Symptoms
    • Mild to intense swelling
    • Moderate pain
    • Moderate limited range of motion
    • Weight bearing and walking are impaired
If you have a moderate or grade 2 sprain, use a brace that compresses the joint and provides more intense support with plastic or metal stays. The stays help take the place of the injured ligament and not only protect the joint from further injury, but provide you welcome relief and stability. Elastic or Neoprene braces are acceptable.

View Grade 2 Ankle Braces

  • Grade 3 Intense Symptoms
    • Severe swelling & bruising
    • Moderate to severe pain
    • Severe limited range of motion
    • Inability to bear weight
If you have a severe or grade 3 sprain, splinting or casting and crutches for several days to 2 weeks are necessary, followed by immobilization in an ankle orthosis (a boot that restricts ankle range of motion), or a brace that restricts range of motion of the ankle. After you have healed enough to bear weight without the ankle orthosis, then use an ankle brace with stays to continue the support of the ankle and prevent re-injury for 4-6 weeks; then use when in high risk activities such as basketball, soccer, jogging etc.

View Grade 3 Ankle Braces

Why use an Elastic Brace?

Elastic ankle braces are usually very comfortable and fit in most shoes. The unique property of elastic webbing acts like muscle because it is made like muscle, with long fibers stretching and contracting to conform to the body shape. These elastic fibers constantly pull in the same manner as muscles., helping to keep the joint stable. Elastic braces provide mild compression which can help reduce swelling.


Why use a Neoprene Brace?

Neoprene ankle braces provides support and helps retain natural body heat for increased circulation and warmth to a specific area or joint. The support and increased circulation is beneficial in helping prevent injury, reduce swelling and speed healing. Neoprene can be extremely comfortable to wear for long periods especially if it is fabric lined.

***The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in the Web site is for general educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. No one should act upon any information on this Web site without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician with whom they have a confidential doctor/patient relationship.***

Author: Dr. Tracy A. Norris D.C., C.C.E.P.
Chiropractic Physician
Certified Chiropractic Extremity Practitioner

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