Playing basketball is a fun game, but it’s fast moving and often involves leaps into the air to dunk the ball. What gets a little forgotten about all that is the landing needs to be perfect to avoid injuring the ankle, foot, knee or leg. Given the way players will aim for the hoop and twist their body to get the right angle for the perfect in-air shot, it often results in a twisted ankle when the foot hits the court at an odd angle. This kind of injuries regularly put top players out of the rest of the game and several future games.
Ankle braces are products designed to support the ankle after it has been injured when playing basketball or simply out trekking and getting the foot caught on something. Either way, it’s the same type of product needed to make sure the vulnerable ankle doesn’t twist again accidentally when putting weight on the leg with the bad ankle. Outside of the primary ankle injuries that either end of the the sporting season or a potential sporting career, general ankle injuries heal up quickly when properly supported to:
a) Prevent a repeat of the injury on the same ankle
b) Let the ankle heal
The idea behind effective ankle braces for basketball is one that’s nicely padded, breathable, and uses a material that’s strong enough to give ample support. Almost all products have a bilateral design to fit both a left and right foot. The elegant appearance of the brace isn’t necessary here. The ability to stabilize the ankle and support the leg, heel, and foot, along with a flexible design to adjust the fit to avoid repeating the injury, are the features to look out for.
Here are our Best 5 Ankle Braces for Basketball:
ASO Ankle Stabilizer
The ASO Ankle Stabilizer from Med Spec is available in sizes from XX-Small to XXX-Large which is the widest size choice of the braces reviewed. The product offers a choice of black and white color products. Both are fine, but it’s likely that the white color option will show indications of your activity level far sooner than the black product. The product is not only used to protect injured ankles but also to prevent them occurring by pre-stabilizing the ankle.
The design of this product is a little unusual because it has laces in the upper foot part of the ankle support instead of using padded straps as most other products do. The intention is a basic basket-weaving approach that’s often seen in taping up process before athletic events and transferring that approach to ankle protection.
The half-boot uses a ballistic nylon for greater strength and to be longer-lasting. The Nylon straps are non-stretchable to make sure the fit is exact once the foot is inserted inside the brace and the straps fitted correctly. The straps are adjustable without needing to take the sports shoes off first. The laces are also adjustable depending on the size of the foot that being partially supported. Lastly, the front-foot cuff that uses elastic to lend more support and secures the straps and laces in place.
Above the half-boot is a padded area that the foot first slides through. It has padded straps with one wrapping to the front of the ASO Ankle Stabilizer which is secured by Velcro.
The overall appearance of the brace is low-profile to allow a socked foot to still fit inside a sports shoes without difficulty.
The product is machine washable on a gentle cycle only. Do not use bleach on it. It is not advisable to use a tumble dryer on the stabilizer; air drying is best.
The stabilizer is used by more than 250 U.S. colleges including both Yale University and Princeton University, plus the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Naval Academy too. This is a significant indirect endorsement. The product is made in the USA.
2. McDavid 195 Ankle Brace
The McDavid 195 Ankle Brace comes in a choice of black or tasteful gray colors. The gray color is light gray, but is unlikely to pick up many discoloration marks during use; anyone worried about this might do well to opt for the black model. The product is available in X-Small to X-Large sizes which aren’t the largest size range for an ankle brace, but adequate for most consumers.
The stabilizer offers Level 3 protection; the greatest possible. The product is made from a combination of nylon and vinyl to protect a shell that forms around the ankle and part of the foot. A 6-strap format is used to look and feel like taping up techniques used in professional athletic competitions. The straps are fully adjustable without requiring either removing the brace or unlacing the rest of the product. Athletes will certainly appreciate this last feature.
The elastic heel provides some give in the feel when walking. The breathable tongue is sewn into the protector to avoid it slipping out of place during athletic competition. The laces that run across the top of the foot, below the ankle, make sure a snug fit with no slippage at all. The combination of support strap fitted diagonally across the top to middle of the foot with the thick strap across the bottom of the leg ensures firm stability for the ankle.
The design is sleek and discrete. The product will wear well because it has closures that are reinforced. The low-profile ankle brace fits over a sock and inside a sports shoe without difficulties. It is also surprisingly lightweight because of its use of ballistic nylon and vinyl (both lightweight materials).
This type of ankle support is usable for prevention of an injury by offering greater ankle support during basketball games and support for sprained ankles enough to let more games be played. A study at a major U.S. University determined that use of the 195 Ankle Brace helped reduce sports-related injuries by 300%.
3. Liomor Ankle Support
The Liomor Ankle Support is a little different to the products already reviewed earlier in this guide. It is a slip-on ankle brace that uses an elasticized material that stretches. When the brace is slide over the foot, it needs to be stretched to fit. As such, it is sold in a single size. The brace fits male and female feet the same and either foot. It is designed to fit any foot that has a 11.8-inch or lesser circumference measurement.
Typically, a product that is extremely elastic is a bit tricky to slide over the foot and ankle if it’s already been injured. Avoiding adding unwanted compression to the ankle area during the fitting process is tough to avoid. However, the product does give both a padded leg strap and a crisscross strap across the foot too, both secured by a Velcro fitting.
The underside of the foot received padding to a lower point, quite close to the toe area, than most other ankle protectors provide. However, there is no heel support here with an open area around the heel which is intended to allow for flexible movement while the ankle remains fully supported. For athletic performance, the uneven padding/material on the underside of the foot could interfere with the balance when running with the heel down. With that said, shots at the hoop involve leaning forward with the heel up, so the lack of heel material is unlikely to interfere with shooting accuracy in a competitive game.
Beyond the game of basketball and ongoing ankle injuries, this brace has been designed to be breathable and wearable day-to-day. As such, it is intended for use by regular people who don’t necessarily play sports. Medical issues like arthritis, tendonitis and occasional ankle sprains would all no doubt benefit from using this product.
The breathability is built into this kind of stretchy material. It is easy to wash and dry in the open air too.
4. McDavid 199 Lace-up Ankle Brace
The McDavid 199 Lace-up Ankle Brace is available in X-Small through to X-Large sizes. It is only made available in black color but has accented the tips of the lace pulls, and the two toe eyes closest to the toes with the orange/red color to match part of the McDavid logo.
The brace itself is a slide in and lace up the affair with a covered heel and thick top-facing laces running from mid-way down the foot to a few centimeters above the ankle area. One certainly feels adequately supported when fitted and laced up for a snug fit. The appearance is somewhat Converse sneakers in appearance; all one needs is their distinctive logo on the side of the product for the look to be complete. However, this is clearly a McDavid product through and through as shown by the quality design and materials used in their ankle protector line.
The protector is formed from two layers: one is polyester, and the other is a mesh made from vinyl. The Level 3 support provides the best protection that is deemed medical grade. The product is suitable for either foot/ankle. There is foot arch support that’s sewn into the brace, and the breathable tongue is also sewn into the inside to stay in the correct place.
A total of eight lace eyes on either side support thick laces that provide a complete solution for the proper level of support in different parts of the leg, ankle, heel and upper foot. Snapped laces are replaceable with new versions too. The profile of the product is medium (some reviewed products are slimmer), but it does give the complete coverage.
The McDavid 199 Lace-up Ankle Brace for basketball with Support Stays is most likely one of the best options for serious ankle injuries where ultimate stability and the most customizable fit are the primary requirements. For some athletes, the ability to slide into and out of an ankle brace and use simple Velcro straps is ideal. For a lighter weight, shallower ankle brace, other options might be preferable. But when requiring the best in complete support, it is tough to recommend another product than this one.
5. Venom Neoprene Ankle Brace
The Venom Neoprene Ankle Brace is available in only small, medium and large sizes (the most restrictive list of sizes in the products reviewed in this guide). The Small size fits US shoe size 7 and lower, medium fits 7.5 to 9.5 sizes, and large fits 10 to 13 sizes; the company suggests that people who are between their size ranges should select the next size up. It is also only available in black color, with the black and white Venom logo easy to spot down the side of the ankle brace.
The product is intended for use with basketball, mixed martial arts, soccer, volleyball, walking, running, and other types of athletics. It also supports basic ankle strains, foot strains, and problems with tendonitis. The primary material used is neoprene which is supportive but not known particularly for its breathability. The fitting is ideal for both men and women and suits either foot. Both are lacing up and a double strap system is used to give different ways to fit the product successfully. There is elastic used to deliver greater stretch-ability and compresses down around the shape of the foot.
The Venom Neoprene Ankle Brace is a good ankle brace for basketball that will suit a wider range of people who require ankle support. The brace is wearable over a pair of socks and inside a sports sneaker or sports boot. It also sits quite high on the leg and in so doing, supports the lowest part of the leg too.
Benefits of ankle braces in basketball
The benefits of wearing an ankle brace is to support the ankle and surround the area of the lower leg. When turning an ankle when changing direction quickly during a basketball match, trekking over uneven ground or getting a foot caught between two rocks when climbing, the ankle and foot are vulnerable.
Putting any weight on the affected leg often leads to it buckling and causing more sharp pain from the ankle in the process. Supporting the lower leg, ankle and upper foot area is crucial to:
1. Provide supplemental support to the ankle while it’s unable to do so itself 2. Avoid re-injuring the ankle post-injury by fixing that part of the leg into place so it cannot get turned or sprained again 3. Allow the ankle ample time to heal up
The nature of a fast-paced basketball game is one of quick moved, sharp, sudden changes in direction, and jumping into the air with little thought to the later safe landing. Certainly, making jumps in the air after an ankle has been sprained or seriously injured is difficult to prove without some degree of risk to the joint or, at least, impeding the healing process. However, with an upcoming game, the only way to be able to still play ball is to strap on an ankle brace for added support.
There are various types of ankle braces for basketball used by athletes in professional basketball and college-level basketball. Some use mostly straps, with occasional lacing up, to provide an adaptable fit to suit different feet and ankle sizes, and account for swelling. A few purely use lacing up for the ultimate in adjustable fit from above the ankle to half-way down the foot.
The materials adopted by different manufacturers, including braces that qualify as Level 3 medical-grade ones, vary from product to product. Neoprene is an affordable, less breathable material. Ballistic nylon, often used in conjunction with Vinyl, to create a protective shell, is another choice than several manufacturers prefer for its lighter weight and breathability.
Some ankle braces slip easily over the affected foot, ankle and lower leg, and then get gently fitted by tightening laces and/or closing Velcro straps in a supportive configuration. In other products, the material is designed to be tight initially but is stretch-able over the foot; these are more difficult to slide on/off without re-injuring the affected area when the elastic is initially too tight before the material has been worn in successfully.
The durability of the product is also a concern for basketball players who have many games each season. Certainly, Ballistic nylon is a tough material that is also long-lasting. Neoprene is also a good one. In most cases, ankle braces are machine washable at low temperatures and when air-dried, but be sure to check the product label to verify that.
Whether being prone to injury and wanting to protect both ankles from injury, seeking to avoid re-activating and old ankle injury from years ago, or to give support for a newly sprained ankle, an ankle brace is vital to both protect the ankle and let it heal naturally.
Without using an ankle support on a turned ankle or a sprained one, there is a significant likelihood that the ankle will become injured once again setting back the healing process. Because of this reason, ankle braces are used by medical professionals and sports physiologists working with élite sporting teams within the United States and Canada.
Research has confirmed that wearing an ankle protector as a preventive measure during sporting events and reduces the likelihood of an ankle injury by up to 300%. So even athletes who’ve not sprained their ankle playing ball recently should consider wearing one regularly on sports days. It is also worth mentioning that this type of protector is helpful for people who play soccer, baseball, volleyball, walking, running, and other activities. Both arthritis and tendonitis benefit from added support to avoid unnecessary pain too.