Are you wondering how to put on an ankle brace?
Ankle braces and supports are great for keeping your ankle safe and pain-free but can be tricky to put on when you’ve never done it before.
Fortunately, we’re here with our ultimate step-by-step guide on how to put on an ankle brace.
How to Put on An Ankle Brace the Right Way in 8 Easy Steps
In recent years, braces have become a popular way to manage common foot injuries, such as sprains, chronic ankle instability, and stress fractures.
A brace keeps the joint/ligament in place, restricts your range of movement, and provides therapeutic warmth/compression during physical activity.
Moreover, according to researchers, braces can “prevent ankle sprains in previously injured players.” But the question is how to put on an ankle brace, right?
#1 Determine Your Type of Ankle Brace
Braces come in different types, such as soft (an ankle sleeve), semi-rigid (laced or hinged), and rigid. The type of brace depends on your health condition and how much compression/restriction you need.
For mild swelling/minor sprains, an elastic sleeve is enough to provide adequate comfort, compression, and foot stability.
On the other hand, semi-rigid and rigid braces are used for moderate cases when you have to keep your ankles from rolling and keep the ankle joint stable.
These braces are a little bit trickier to put on because they’ve got straps/laces. But it’s easy to learn how to put them on.
#2 Read the Product Description
We’re going to give you general directions on how to put on your ankle wrap/brace, but we can’t cover all available models.
That’s why we advise that you read the product info and instructions provided by the manufacturer. They’ll give you an idea of how to use the brace properly and avoid further injuries.
#3 Consider If You’re Going to Wear a Sock
Some manufacturers recommend wearing your socks over the brace for better compression and heat retention. Others advise wearing an athletic sock under the brace.
In general, quality ankle braces are made from breathable materials, such as nylon, to prevent skin irritation and ensure proper airflow.
As a result, they shouldn’t cause any discomfort or excessive sweating. But if you’re uncomfortable, you can wear a thin sock under the brace for extra foot protection.
#4 Unlace the Brace
Semi-rigid and rigid braces have a combination of Velcro straps and laces, usually two straps on the sides, one strap over the middle, and laces.
Unfasten all Velcro and loosen the adjustable lace enough to fit your foot inside the brace. Then find a comfortable spot to place your foot so that you can apply the brace.
On the other hand, sleeves don’t have laces/straps. You just slip the ankle sleeve over your foot, put on your shoes, and you’re ready for your day-to-day activities.
#5 Slide your Foot
Slide your foot into the boot part of the brace and check where the brace’s tongue is. It should be on top of the foot, between the skin and the laces.
Keep your injured ankle at an angle of 90 degrees. Then thread the laces and tighten them well, as if you’re putting on a boot.
Apply the Velcro, following these steps:
- Take the inside strap and bring it across the top of your foot and under the heel. Then, secure it to the opposite side of the ankle.
- Do the same with the outside strap.
- Check if the straps are tight but not tight enough to cut off your blood flow. Readjust if necessary.
- Apply the middle strap over the two Velcro ones and the laces.
- Depending on your daily activities, you may have to adjust the tension from time to time.
- If you’re using an adjustable ankle brace with Velcro, crisscross the strap, following the above steps.
Keep in mind that AFO braces are different in design from your regular ankle sleeve/ankle wrap. But the best AFO braces are easy to put on and follow almost the same steps.
#7 Put on Your Shoes
Once you’ve adjusted the brace for a snug fit, slide your foot with the brace inside the shoe. Be careful not to loosen the brace in the process. Use a shoehorn if necessary.
If you’re an elderly patient, consider someone to help you don your brace/shoes. While the best ankle braces for the elderly don’t have complicated laces, they can be tricky to fasten.
#8 Consult a Specialist
When you wear a brace, it might take a few days for you to notice an improvement in your symptoms or pain relief. But if you notice intense swelling, numbness, or pain, you should consult your doctor.
What Conditions Require an Ankle Support Brace?
Now that you know how to put on an ankle brace let’s talk about when you should consider wearing a brace.
Sprains are the most common type of acute ankle injury. During a sprain, your foot goes into an unnatural position, causing causes the soft tissues (ligaments) to stretch or tear.
Healing time varies, depending on the severity of the injury, but a brace can keep your ankle secure while it heals and reduce the intense swelling, inflammation, and pain.
#2 Chronic Instability
If a sprain doesn’t heal well or you get multiple sprains, you can develop chronic ankle instability. You require a brace to keep the foot from rolling/turning to the side.
#3 Stress Fractures
Repetitive activity and overuse often lead to ankle stress fractures. These are tiny cracks in the bones, causing pain and tenderness.
#4 Plantar Fascitis
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue connecting your heel bones to toes. A compression brace can reduce the swelling and aid in injury recovery.
#5 Achilles Tendonitis
Repetitive motions and overuse can also damage your Achilles tendon, connecting your heel bone to calf muscles.
Severe cases of Achilles tendonitis can result in ligament tears, but a brace can reduce the ankle strain and the pain.
5 Tips on How to Put on an Ankle Brace
Besides knowing how to put on your brace, you should keep a couple of other things in mind to ensure you’re using it right.
#1 Get the Right Size Brace
To do its job well, an ankle protector brace should be snug without being too tight to cut off your blood circulation. That’s why you should pick the right size for your foot.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on measuring your foot for an accurate fit. Get a smaller size if you’re between two numbers. You can also watch this video.
#2 Don’t Forget to Clean Your Brace
Even if your brace is made of breathable material, you’ll have to clean it sooner or later. Otherwise, it will accommodate bacteria and smell unpleasant.
In general, you can wash any brace without metal components or wipe plastic/metal ones with a damp cloth.
#3 Choose the Right Shoes
You shouldn’t wear some braces without shoes because it increases the risk of injury. But not all shoes will do because tight ones can impede your quick recovery.
Usually, specialists recommend sneakers with laces because you can tighten/loses them until you have a comfortable range of motion. But any shoes made of elastic materials with laces will be a good choice.
Avoid high-heeled shoes or any other shoes that cause you pain. It’s also a good idea to get a size bigger to ensure the shoes won’t be too tight.
#4 Take it Easy
No matter your type of injury, you should take it easy for a couple of days to get your foot the chance to heal and then return to your normal activities.
A brace can decrease your discomfort during activity, but it doesn’t mean you should be running around on a sprained ankle.
#5 Don’t Overwear Your Brace
You shouldn’t wear your brace for longer than necessary. A brace restricts the normal range of motion. As such, it can weaken the ligaments and cause chronic instability when misused.
If you’re an athlete, you may have to wear a brace during sports activities to prevent future injuries. Fortunately, studies have also determined that braces “do not affect performance, speed or agility.”
How to Put on an Ankle Brace FAQs
Do I Wear Ankle Brace Over or Under Sock?
Most braces should be worn under the sock for maximum compression and pain relief. But you can wear an athletic sock under the brace if you’re uncomfortable.
Should I Wear An Ankle Brace All Day?
In general, you should wear your brace while you’re performing your daily activities to keep your ankles stable and prevent further injuries to the affected area.
But you shouldn’t overuse a brace because it can weaken your ligaments and joints in the long run. Instead, consult a specialist on how long you should wear your brace.
Is It OK to Sleep with a Brace On?
Unless you’ve got a chronic condition that requires a brace or your health provider recommends it, you shouldn’t wear your brace in bed.
An ankle brace is an excellent way to reduce ankle pain and provide extra stability for your foot. Most braces are relatively affordable and easy to put on/off once you get the hang out of them.
Just remember to talk to your doctor if you’re not certain you should be using a brace to aid the healing process.
- “Ankle Braces Guide – What You Need to Know.” 2018. Medical Braces. July 6, 2018. https://www.medicalbraces.org/ankle-braces-what-you-need-to-know/.
- https://www.facebook.com/MayoClinicHealthSystem. 2017. “Brace for It: When to Use an Ankle Brace.” Mayo Clinic Health System. 2017. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/brace-for-it-when-to-use-an-ankle-brace.
- JM Dizon, and JJ Reyes. 2014. “A Systematic Review on the Effectiveness of External Ankle Supports in the Prevention of Inversion Ankle Sprains among Elite and Recreational Players.” Nih.gov. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK). 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK78768/.
- “To Brace or Not to Brace: That Is the Question! | Cramer Sports Medicine.” n.d. Www.cramersportsmed.com. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://www.cramersportsmed.com/first-aider/to-brace-or-not-to-brace-that-is-the-question.html.
What do you think of our ultimate guide on how to put on an ankle brace? Do you use braces for injury prevention? Share your experience in the comment section.