Shoes, Braces or Tape: What’s the Best Way to Support Your Ankles During Exercise?

You enjoy an active lifestyle, and the idea of a disabling ankle injury is far from appealing. If you’d prefer not to join the 2 million people who incur an acute ankle sprain each year in the United States, there are some good rules of thumb for supporting your ankles.

At Optima Foot and Ankle, foot health experts Drs. Laura Schweger and Evan M. Ross specialize in ankle sprains and other conditions that can lead to ankle pain. While we love seeing our patients, we’d prefer you didn’t have to come in with an ankle injury.

To that end, here are some tips when it comes to supporting your ankles when you exercise.

Shoes matter

One of the common mistakes that people make is not getting the right foot gear for their exercise of choice. While we’re not suggesting that you have a different pair of shoes for every activity, having the wrong pair can lead to injury.

For example, if you like to go hiking, you might benefit from a shoe with built-in ankle support to help you handle uneven terrain. If you head out with loose shoes that don’t provide any grip, you’re far more prone to twisting your ankle.

If you prefer simple road running, a shoe with less tread and more support for your foot is beneficial. Heading out for a run with too much tread on relatively even surfaces can present problems if your shoes “catch” on the surface.

As you can see, what lies along the bottom of your shoe is very important.

Also important is ensuring that the shoe fits snugly and that the laces are tied tightly. Loose shoes are arguably as dangerous as having the wrong tread.

Give it a wrap

If you have an unstable or weak ankle, or you’re healing from a previous sprain, wrapping your ankle is always a good idea. To wrap your ankle properly, you should follow these steps:

  • Wrap twice around the balls of your feet
  • Continue to wrap up your foot until you get to your ankle
  • Make 2-3 figure-eight wraps around your foot and ankle
  • End your wrap with two turns around your lower leg (a few inches above your ankle)
  • Fasten the wrap securely

Remember to keep the bandage or tape taut as you wrap around your foot and ankle, but not so tight that you might cut off circulation. The tension in your wrap is far more important than the number of turns you make — a few taut wrap-arounds are far better than a dozen loose ones.

Bracing your ankle

If you find that wrapping your ankle is a bit cumbersome, you can find some excellent braces that are designed for active people. As with the wrap, you want the brace to be tight, but not so tight that you’re hampering blood flow.

You can often find sports braces for your ankles in most pharmacies, but it might be better to check with us for good options. Or, if you have a trusted sports store where you buy your shoes, you can also try there.

If you’re recovering from a serious ankle injury or surgery, it’s important that you work with us on your ankle support. We may prescribe orthotics that provide the exact support your ankle needs while you heal.

If you have more questions about the best ways to support your ankles when you exercise, please contact our office in Bend, Oregon, by phone or request an appointment here on our website.

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