There has been an endless debate in the athletic community concerning what type of ankle brace is “the best” for basketball players. With the countless options available, it can be a very daunting task picking the one that is right for you. This article will examine 5 of the best ankle braces readily available to consumers, and discuss the differences in support and comfort of each.
The gold standard of ankle braces is the ASO Ankle Brace. Hundreds of schools, colleges, and professional teams use the ASO Ankle Brace worldwide. It provides medial and lateral (side-to-side) support to the ankle, while still allowing adequate motion for athletic activities. It has a secure, lace up design that can be adjusted as often as needed to maintain support, as well as figure 8 straps that help lock the heel in place to help prevent an ankle sprain. This brace is lightweight and easily fits in any athletic shoe or cleat. Because it does not contain any hard, plastic inserts, it is very comfortable for all day use and incredibly easy and quick to apply. It is ideal for use after an acute ankle sprain injury to provide support during rehabilitation or for preventative use to help reduce the incidence of ankle injuries. Whether you are recovering from an ankle sprain or trying to prevent minor ankle injuries, this is the perfect brace to choose.
For basketball players that have suffered a more severe ankle sprain or who chronically sprain (roll) their ankle, and need more support than a standard ASO ankle brace, there is the ASO Ankle Brace with Plastic Stays. This brace has all the same qualities of support and comfort that the standard brace provides, but it also has removable medial and lateral plastic stays that can be added to the brace for additional support. These supports are ideal for individuals who have suffered an acute ankle sprain and need additional medial and lateral support while they transition back into activity. This brace is also ideal for individuals who chronically sprain their ankle or suffer from chronic ankle instability (CAI). This brace is only slightly bulkier than the standard ASO brace and has more restriction of ankle motion, however it provides more support and may decrease the likelihood of an additional injury while running, cutting, or jumping in basketball.
The McDavid 199 Lightweight Ankle Brace provides similar support to the ASO Ankle Brace with Plastic Stays; however, the McDavid ankle brace has two spring steel stays that provide the medial and lateral support. These stays are a bit less rigid than the plastic ASO inserts, and provide support to the ankle while still maintaining a comfortable fit. This brace does not have any additional straps, rather it only laces up the front and uses the spring steel stays and its two layers of poly/vinyl mesh fabric construction to provide a durable brace and the necessary medial and lateral ankle protection. This style may be more comfortable for players who feel the additional straps are too bulky or are uncomfortable with hard plastic stays.
An ankle brace more suited for basketball players with acute or chronic multiple lateral (outside) ankle injuries is the DonJoy RocketSoc Ankle Brace. This brace is similar in style to the ASO ankle brace in that it laces up the ankle to provide increased ankle support and compression, but differs in that it focuses its additional support on the lateral aspect of the ankle, since that is the most common area injured in an ankle sprain. It provides a supportive strap at the heel, as well as another on the lateral forefoot to prevent inversion (rolling in) of the ankle. It is lightweight, easy to apply and adjust, and fits easily into any shoe.
The final brace recommended for basketball players is the Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace. This brace has two U-shaped plastic supports on the medial and lateral aspects of the ankle to reduce excessive ankle motion in those directions, while the hinged design allows for normal ankle motion in all other directions. This brace is lightweight, fits easily into most shoes, and has EVA padding inside the brace that hugs every contour of the ankle for additional comfort. The Active Ankle T2 is great for individuals who have suffered multiple ankle sprains and can help prevent further injury to the ankle by reducing the unnatural motion that causes ankle sprains. It has an open front design that does not encompass the entire ankle, so it can be more comfortable for athletic activity. The T2 Ankle brace is very popular among jumping sport athletes such as basketball and volleyball players.
Picking the right ankle brace to fit your individual basketball, or athletic needs can be very difficult. It is important when choosing the right one to understand the reason you need an ankle brace and the differences in support and function various braces provide. Any of these five braces discussed will provide great support to the ankle in helping prevent or recover from an ankle injury, it is just a matter of finding the one that is right for you.