Ankle Brace and Bandage: What it is and how to choose one

An ankle brace or a bandage can help to make ankle injuries less likely.

The ankle is very susceptible to injuries such as sprains or ligament lesions. Since these injuries are very common nowadays, it is important that there is an adequate therapeutic tool available to treat ankle injuries.

One such means of conservative therapy is the ankle bandage. The ankle bandage fulfills various functions: On the one hand it has a relieving and at the same time stabilizing effect. The stabilizing effect is particularly important in acute but also chronic ligament instabilities.

In addition, a bandage protects the ankle joint and relieves irritation caused by traumatic events or after operations. Simultaneous swellings of the ankle joint can also be treated and reduced by the bandage. Despite the compressive effect for stabilization, an ankle brace does not restrict the general freedom of movement to such an extent that it could lead to a restriction. Also worth mentioning is the function of thermal regulation, which can also be used to meet the requirements of an ankle bandage.

The material of the bandage must be selected so that it has the property of breathability. Since ankle supports are often worn during sports, it must be possible to release sweat into the air so that the muscles of the ankle under the support do not cool down. At the same time, a certain amount of heat storage is beneficial, as this is good for blood circulation and supports healing. Besides breathability, skin compatibility is also important.

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A quality feature is also the property of being easy to care for. Especially during sports, the bandage is sweaty after repeated wearing and should, therefore, have a material that can be easily cleaned with a washing machine. The material should still be flexible and elastic even after several washes.

In addition, the accuracy of fit is important, which is usually ensured by the elastic and individually adaptable material of the ankle support. In order to avoid pressure points, care is taken, especially with the new ankle supports, to ensure that the edges are processed so well that they do not cut into or roll up at the end and thus form pressure points.

In addition, it is important that the material fits tightly so that the corresponding wearing comfort is also guaranteed in sport’s shoes and you can wear your normal sports shoes without having to change to a larger shoe size.

A great advantage of an ankle bandage is the fact that the foot can be fully loaded while wearing it and therefore does not represent a restriction.

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Ankle brace and bandage for torn ligaments

A torn ligament, for example after a twist trauma, can make ankle bandage necessary.

The need to wear an ankle brace can arise for various reasons. Ligament injuries very often occur due to distortion of the ankle joint, i.e. overstretching of the ligaments resulting in strain or compression. Sometimes it is sufficient to apply the PECH rule, i.e. rest, ice, compression and high support.

However, once a ligament is torn, it is still possible to proceed conservatively, but the ankle should be immobilized with an orthosis or stabilized with an ankle brace. Wearing an elastic bandage makes sense, especially in the case of chronic ligament instability, especially if there is no response to surgical ligament reconstruction. The function of the bandage in the event of a torn ligament, for example after a twisted ankle trauma, is to prevent those movements when the ligament is twisted. Even if the cause lies in the instability of the ligaments, the support serves to limit these movements.

Apart from the reasons for sprains, instability or distortion, clinical pictures such as arthrosis or arthritis can also be treated with an ankle brace. After acute injuries, the ankle bandage is often used as a rehabilitation support, as it allows the ankle joint to slowly but surely return to its original position and provide a certain degree of protection. The bandage also helps with irritation caused by trauma.

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However, the ankle bandage can also be worn for prophylactic purposes. The aim is to provide the ligament structures of the ankle joint with a kind of guidance with simultaneous stabilization. By absorbing jerky movements or minimizing forces, injuries cannot be prevented, but they become unlikely. Especially the risk of a twisting trauma (so-called supination trauma) is reduced by wearing the brace, because the brace stabilizes the ligaments.

An ankle brace can also act as a kind of “shock absorber”.

In general, certain sports such as foot, volleyball, hand and basketball involve an increased risk of injury to the ankle. High-risk sports are characterized by rapid and abrupt changes of direction and sudden stops, which are particularly stressful for joints and associated ligament structures.

However, it is not uncommon for regular joggers to require an ankle bandage. This may be because sometimes beginners damage their feet through poor footwear and overloading, resulting in problems in the ankle’s ligament structures and even instability.

The whole thing can be provoked by running too fast, running on uneven ground (the risk of twisting is particularly high here) and lack of stretching or warming up. For this reason, athletes with a feeling of instability in the ankle joint often wear an ankle bandage while jogging. Wearing an ankle bandage, both as a preventive measure and after injuries, can, therefore, make the injuries less likely and also have a positive influence on the healing process.

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In the current market there is a wide variety of offers of ankle supports. The price category varies from $10 to $90 depending on manufacturer and processing or material. One material that particularly meets the above-mentioned requirements is a neoprene leather combination. This combination offers the advantage of being elastic and easy to clean. At the same time, this material can be washed well without any significant material wear after several washes. Due to the neoprene components, the ankle bandage has good thermal insulation, so that the muscles are continuously warmed. Sometimes small pads are integrated into the bandage, which consists of silicone or certain gels. Due to their massaging function, they provide a pleasant feeling when worn and can have a positive effect on reducing swelling.

Types of support

The ankle joint supports are available in various designs: On the one hand, there are bandages that you put on like socks, with the difference that the lower side is open and the metatarsus and toes are not covered. Often these bandages fit very tight at the beginning. However, you should keep in mind that the material stretches a little after the first time you wear it. You should therefore not be too hasty in choosing a size larger, as the ankle bandage only fulfills its function when it is tight and taut.

On the other hand there are also ankle bandages for lacing. Here the laces are attached to the front and you can individually determine how tight the bandage should fit. Especially in case of accompanying swellings, this allows a very comfortable handling, because after the swelling has decreased, the ankle bandage can simply be laced tighter and you do not have to buy a new one, because the old one has become too big. This is a big advantage compared to the other ankle supports. Otherwise, the laced bandage also has positive characteristics such as good adaptability to the shape of the foot and ankle joint and a certain flexibility.

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The different ankle bandages not only differ in their workmanship but of course also vary in size. So it should be possible for everyone to find a suitable bandage for their personal calf and foot circumference. This aspect also applies to ankle supports for children. Actually, wearing them at an early age should not yet be necessary, as the joints, muscles and ligaments are even more resistant, tolerant and robust. Neither degenerative processes nor signs of wear play a role in childhood. Nevertheless, children can of course also tear their ligaments, as this is the age when a lot of football is played.

In addition to torn ligaments, the classic twist trauma is not uncommon. Compared to adults, an ankle bandage is usually necessary after acute injuries, but not so often for prophylactic reasons due to ligament instability or chronic irritation. In terms of design, children’s supports do not differ significantly from those for adults. Especially for children, the focus is on wearing comfort and a tight fit so that the ankle bandage is not perceived as a nuisance and children are reluctant or infrequent to wear it. In general, it is good to know that some manufacturers recommend special wearing times regardless of age. Some ankle supports, for example, are limited to a wearing time of 3 to 4 hours. When buying an ankle bandage you should, therefore, inform yourself about this.

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