Debilitating ankle pain can be quite distressing and hence when there is an injury on this joint there is need for an ankle brace to immobilize the ankle so as to help it heal faster and better. In addition to aiding healing, an ankle brace also alleviates the pain to a great extent such that some mobility can be managed comfortably. Also, an ankle brace can be worn to prevent the event of an injury taking place especially for athletes engaging in sports that cause a lot of strain on the ankle. There are however many things to consider in the choice of a brace so as to select the most appropriate ankle brace.
Probably the most important aspect to consider in choosing an ankle brace is the fit. It must be comfortable for it to be effective. Usually the sizing chart for ankle braces is dependent on the shoe size and the ankle circumference and this chart is crucial in getting the correct fit for the brace. Still on comfort, the material used to construct the brace must be comfortable and not cause further injury. Common materials used for braces are knitwear, fabric and neoprene. Neoprene is flexible and offers a snug warm fit that is very important in alleviating any pain; however, it is not as breathable as knitwear or fabric. The latter two offer a comfortable fit without the heat therapy offered by neoprene and so may be the best choice for all day wear.
Another consideration is the condition for which an ankle brace is needed. Braces for the ankles may be needed for tendonitis or just general pain and both these conditions will require different types of braces depending on the activities engaged in be it intense sports or just regular daily activities. In cases where there is a history of ankle pain a brace is ideal to alleviate the pains and to prevent further injury. An ankle brace is the ideal tool to help in healing after an ankle surgery as it keeps the area immobile so that complete healing can be realized in the shortest time possible without further aggravating the problem. Extreme sports may in some cases cause excessive strain on the ankle that may lead to injury and so a brace will help to prevent incidences of injury.
Aside from the material used to make the ankle brace, they come in a variety of types or designs such as sleeves, straps and lace ups. Sleeves are a basic design that helps to alleviate pain in cases of tendonitis, injury, arthritis and plantar fasciitis. They are usually made up of neoprene or knitwear and offer moderate compression for pain relief. The basic sleeve ankle brace may incorporate straps that offer a tighter compression that can be adjusted as needed. The straps can be in either a figure 6 or a figure 8. Figure 8 straps offer a more comprehensive protection for the joint and can be adjusted accordingly. The figure 6 straps are ideal for cases where lateral movements can cause a rolling of the ankle resulting in a sprain. Lace ups are designed much like shoe laces and allow for customized tightness throughout the brace for maximum support.
An important consideration for ankle braces is the tightness of the compression and adjusting accordingly during fitting to a comfortable fit. The level of tightness is relative and each individual has their own preference. Ideally the ankle should feel locked in without adding to the pain and without cutting off blood flow at the ankle. This is because sufficient blood circulation is necessary to aid in healing an injured ankle or one recovering from surgery. An increased level of pain is an indication that the brace is too tight and must be loosened to a comfortable fit. The brace should also not be too loose as the compression is necessary in immobilizing and supporting the ankle where need be as well as aiding in the joint getting back together in healing.
When rehabilitating an injured ankle, it may be necessary to keep the ankle immobile for some period before it can be subjected to some activity in the healing process. In the very initial stage a particular type or design of ankle brace may be needed for compression and support such as a sleeve brace. This may need to be adjusted or changed into a different design as the healing progresses. This is an important consideration since some advanced braces come with adjustable parts such as a removable sleeve that will work perfectly in such a case and reduce costs in the long run. As the ankle progressively gets restored, it is important to stop dependency on the ankle brace so that the joint can gradually adjust and regain strength to work on its own. This should only be attempted if there is no danger of aggravating the injury or increasing the pain level.
Essentially, choosing the best ankle brace depends on the condition for which it is needed as well as the duration for which it is to be worn and the activities the ankle is subjected to. All in all, comfort in the face of compression must be assessed for maximum benefit. While compression and support aid in rehabilitating the ankle joint, pain must be eliminated at all cost so that more problems do not develop while working to eliminate an injury or during recovery.