10 Best Ankle Braces 2018

Strains and sprains seem to be a way of life in an active household and not just among athletes since they often occur during normal, day to day activities. The most common of these types of injuries is the ankle sprain. Worldwide, over a million of them occur each year among adults aged 20 to 60 and more than $2 billion is spent on treating them.

Regardless of cause, ankle injuries are painful and inconvenient. Whether mild, moderate or severe, any ankle strain or sprain should be taken seriously and treated appropriately including the use of a stabilizing device.

Once an ankle is injured, it is not uncommon for it to be somewhat weakened, so stabilizing devices such as an ankle brace also serve as good preventive tools and can help support a previously injured ankle during sports or everyday activity.

What You Should Know

While the signs of an ankle sprain are fairly obvious – pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling – it is best to see a doctor if you are unable to bear weight on it so that he or she can formally diagnose the level of sprain. Mild sprains and some moderate sprains can be treated successfully at home, but severe sprains will require physician intervention.

For the mild or moderate injury, the tried-and-true RICE approach works best – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation – and should be paired with a brace that will reduce pain, speed healing and keep the injured area supported during activity. Even after an injured ankle has healed, it is advisable to wear a brace during sports and long periods of walking or standing to prevent reinjury.

To help you choose the one that is right for you, we’ve created the Best Ankle Brace guide that features the 10 top-rated products on the market.

Top 10 Ankle Braces Table

PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
1. Bauerfeind MalleoTrain Ankle Support Sleeve$$$$4.7
2. McDavid 195 Ankle BraceStabilizer$$4.5
3. Zamst A2-DX Ankle BraceStabilizer$$$$4.5
4. Futuro Sport Deluxe Ankle StabilizerStabilizer$4.4
5. ACE Deluxe Ankle Stabilizer Sleeve$4.4
6. ASO Ankle StabilizerStabilizer$$4.4
7. Liomor Ankle Support Sleeve$4.4
8. Ultra Zoom Ankle BraceStabilizer$$$$4.3
9. Shock Doctor 849Stabilizer$4.2
10. Aircast AirSportStabilizer$$$4.1

Buying Information for Ankle Braces

Whether you’re a basketball player or a stay-at-home mom, choosing the right brace after an ankle injury or for prevention is important. But not all braces are created equal so how do you decide? Let’s look at some basic terminology and features.

There are two types of ankle supports:

  1. Sleeves. These are made of elastic material shaped to fit around the ankle and provide compression rather than stability. They are best after an injury has healed when you want ongoing support.
  1. Stabilizing Braces. These have straps or laces (or both) that allow you to adjust tightness, and usually have some rigid components for structural support. They are best immediately after an ankle injury while healing.

Sleeves Should

  • Completely surround the ankle.
  • Provide solid compression without being too tight.

Stabilizing Braces Should

  • Completely surround the ankle.
  • Provide solid compression without being too tight.
  • Have some way to adjust tightness (laces, straps, Velcro).
  • Limit extensive left to right movement of the ankle.

In addition to utilizing one of the products in our Best Ankle Brace guide, be sure to be proactive in avoiding reinjury. Include some exercises in your workout that strengthen your knees and ankles and elevate and rest your ankles after workouts or games.

Double Check Which Foot It Will Fit On

Before you purchase an ankle brace, always be sure to double check which foot it is specified for.

Some braces will fit on the left foot only, others on the right foot only and some will fit on either foot.

Top 5 Best Ankle Brace Reviews

1. Bauerfeind MalleoTrain

Bauerfeind’s MalleoTrain products are the most popular line of ankle supports among athletes and sports trainers so it is no surprise that one of them came in at #1 in our guide. This support is a sleeve but it provides many of the benefits of a more rigid brace.

The knit fabric is lightweight and breathable and conforms to the shape of your foot and ankle to reduce pain and inflammation without restricting movement. It is also thin enough to be worn with most shoes. The cushioned pads over the inner and outer ankle bones massage the ankle during movement, increase stability and protect the skin.

Consumers seem to love this product’s graduated compression technology in which compression gradually gets lighter towards the ends of the sleeve, meaning there is no discomfort at the top or bottom from over-tightness.

Even though it provides significant compression, this sleeve is very easy to put on. And it’s a product that stands up beautifully to constant washing.

2. McDavid 195

While not as simple a device as the #1 rated sleeve, this McDavid brace does everything a good stabilizer should do. It has laces that allow you to adjust tightness from the arch of the foot to above the ankle bones, two stabilizing straps that wrap around the foot and one stabilizing strap at the top.

The material is polyester but the porous tongue ensures plenty of ventilation and the lining is padded for extra comfort. This brace steadies and supports the injured part of the ankle while still allowing a full range of motion so you can carry on with most routine activities.

Users complained a bit about the time involved in getting this brace on and off, but considered that a small price to pay for the quality and effectiveness of the product. It can be worn with most shoes but we recommend it be put over long socks to avoid any rubbing and irritation of skin especially in the initial break-in stages of wear.

3. Zamst A2-DX

Our #3 rated product has some pretty impressive bragging rights since it is the brace of choice of Stephen Curry, a top ranked NBA player. But for mere mortals like us, it’s still a great product for stabilizing and protecting an injured ankle.

Even though it has molded components for maximum support, Zamst’s patented a-Fit technology allows this brace to be worn on either the right or left ankle. Those molded sections are particularly important for more severe ankle sprains because they ensure that the ankle cannot roll inward or outward. And the stabilizing straps running underneath the foot prevent shifting forward or backward.

Despite its solid construction, this is a very comfortable brace but be patient during the break-in period when the stiff external guards can cause some irritation to the ankle bones. The extra pads that come with the brace will help diminish any pain or rubbing.

4. Futuro Sport

It may be one of the less expensive products in our top 10 list, but this ankle brace offers solid support and protection with reinforced side stabilizers that limit side to side motion and provide strong support to the ankle. Don’t let the one-size-fits-all aspect concern you. The product is designed to tighten and fit any size ankle and foot.

Weighing only 1oz, the Futuro is unbelievably lightweight and is made from a moisture-wicking, breathable material that is ultra-comfortable. Because it is thin, it can be worn with any shoes and allows a wide enough range of motion that you can engage in most normal activity while wearing it.

Because there are no laces, only straps that go around the ankle and feed through plastic loops at the top, this is a product that is easy to get on and off. The one drawback noted by consumers is that it is not machine washable. Despite having to be hand-washed this is a top product that covers all the bases.

5. ACE Deluxe

From the makers of the familiar ACE bandage, this ankle stabilizer is something of a hybrid because it incorporates some lightweight flexible side stays into its pull-on sleeve design.

The one-size adjustable design means it should fit nearly any ankle size even though a few users with either large, swollen ankles or very thin ankles noted a poor fit. But the breathable material wicks moisture away from the foot and ankle and helps eliminate the chance of odor buildup.

While it limits side to side motion to some extent, it is a brace best-suited to prevention and maintenance rather than immediate post-injury use since the range of motion is quite wide and it will not completely prevent ankle rolling during sports like basketball or volleyball.

Most consumers described this product as one that provides gentle, comfortable compression and pain relief and that helps prevent reinjury in weakened ankles. Wear it night or day comfortably and be sure to hand wash and always air dry.