Three bones, 4 ligaments and three joints – that’s a lot of possibilities for injury in your ankle. Twists, sprains and breaks are common – in fact, ankle injuries account for about 40% of injuries in high school sports. While most heal quickly, it’s still important to protect the ankle during and maybe even after healing.
Wearing good basketball shoes is the primary means of protecting yourself from this type of injury. However, shoes alone don’t usually provide enough support if your tendons are on the mend. That’s why it’s important to use a good ankle brace to provide extra support.
Ankle braces can be used both for prevention and for the healing process. The products we review here all serve both purposes. They’ll reduce your chance of injury but if you’ve already suffered damage, they’ll also help you recover.
Type of Ankle Braces
Before mentioning different kinds of brace, we should talk about taping, too. This can be a great support as well. However, it should be applied by a qualified trainer who can make sure it provides the right support without being too tight and restricting blood flow. Also, when you’re active, the tape is going to loosen and require re-application.
Braces are more stable. The first type is the compression brace, which is like a sleeve that pulls over your foot. By applying compression, it helps prevent swelling. It’s also flexible enough to let you go about your daily activities or play sports. Compression braces are good for mild injuries.
A semi-rigid brace is another type. These can be laced or jointed. Lace-up versions can actually also include Velcro straps. These limit side-to-side as well as up-and-down movement. Jointed braces all you to move your ankle up and down but limit side-to-side motion. Semi-rigid braces are often used more serious injuries. You may still be able to run hoops, but you’re going to be more limited.
Rigid braces are even more limiting. They usually have hard plastic shells that are held in place with velcro straps. With these, you might not be able to even get shoes on, especially basketball shoes. But because of the increased support they provide, more serious injuries will heal faster. From there you can usually downgrade to a lace-up brace. Obviously, while using a rigid brace you’re not going to be playing.
This should go without saying, but if you’ve injured your ankle and it could possibly be serious, be sure to consult a physician. Get X-rays if needed to make sure there are no broken bones and see if there’s need for more care.
Reviews of the Best Ankles Braces for Basketball
Let’s take a look now at some of the compression and semi-rigid braces that will help you heal quickly and get you back on the court.
This is a lace-up style brace with a Velcro strap at the top. It provides tons of support while also being comfortable and allowing for up-and-down movement. It’s good not only for healing but also for preventing injury. The manufacturer claims that users of this brace have three times fewer injuries!
It’s also quite comfortable. The top strap does provide compression, and it’s made of a lightweight polyester. The tongue is also ventilated to “breathe”, helping keep your foot cool.
ASO Ankle Stabilizer
Another lace-up brace, the ASO provides great support for weak or injured ankles. It laces up easily, which is great because the easiest way to get it off is to unlace it completely. It’s comfortable and allows for flexibility – but not so much to put you at further risk.
This brace is rather high and will show when you wear street shoes, but is virtually hidden by basketball shoes. It’s available in black or white.
Zamst offers the A2-DX, which offers a compression brace inside a semi-rigid structure fastened with Velcro. It provides support and protection for movement in any direction, helping keep you from rolling or spraining your ankle.
Unlike the other braces we looked at above, this one is designed for a particular foot. That is, you have to buy either the left or the right; they’re not interchangeable.
It’s also bulkier than other models because of its rigid plastic upper part. But it also provides great support and protects you from strains and sprains.
Venom Neoprene Ankle Brace
Venom’s contribution also provides compression along with stability through the brace’s side stabilizers. Made of neoprene, it’s light and breathable. This brace gets high marks all around for providing support while allowing for activity.
The brace is great for practically any activity. Like any new piece of equipment – or even shoes in themselves – it can take a little to get used to, but you’ll soon find them a comfortable support.
Another great product from McDavid, the 199 is a lace-up brace made of a lightweight and breathable polyester/mesh. It offers the maximum level of protection and yet amazingly still allows you to have freedom of movement. It’s “one side fits both” and comes in sizes from XXS to XL. Be careful with sizing, though, as their recommendations do seem to run smaller than reality.
Overall, the McDavid 199 is a great product and will provide you with fantastic support.
If you want to protect your ankles before or after injury, a brace will serve you well. Ankle injuries are common at all levels of sports, so it’s important to protect yourself. Find what works for you and keeps you comfortable so you’ll have no fear going to the rim!