Choosing the best sprained ankle brace for your injury depends on the nature of the injury itself. Different varieties of braces are applied to the needs of each specific sprain. Sprained ankle braces can range from thin, flexible varieties that provide a little support for mild sprains, to sturdy, rigid devices that provide maximum support and immobilize the ankle while it heals.
An ankle sprain is the result of injury to the ligaments that connect the joints in the ankle. The severity of the ankle sprain depends on how much damage is caused to these ligaments. Stretched ligaments result in a mild sprain, while torn ligaments show a more serious injury. You might be able to asses how bad your sprain is by the amount of pain, swelling, or bruising that is present in the ankle. In order to be sure that your injury is properly treated it is generally a good idea to check with a health care professional.
The best sprained ankle brace to treat a mild injury is probably a wrap or lightweight fabric brace. Wrapping the ankle should be sufficient to ease bruising and swelling, assuming there is not severe ligament damage. If you are uncomfortable using a wrap that you must fashion around your ankle yourself, it is easy to find sock-like fabric wraps that simply slide over your ankle. You should also consider treating the sprain with ice and getting plenty of rest.
Severe sprains, characterized by partially or fully torn ligaments in the ankle, may need a more heavy-duty brace. The best sprained ankle brace for a badly damaged ankle should immobilize the joint and ligaments. Limiting the range of motion of your ankle will help protect the ligaments from further damage, allow them to heal faster, and reduce the amount of pain you feel as a result of the sprain.
A sprained ankle brace that limits mobility will usually slip over your heel and strap around your ankle. These braces are often a combination of sturdy fabric that compresses the injury to prevent swelling and plastic supports that provide the rigidity needed to keep the ankle immobilized. Convenience is a great benefit of these types of braces; typically they are narrow enough to fit inside a shoe and under a pant leg.
Sprains that are extremely severe may require a walking brace, which is the most heavy-duty type of sprained ankle brace. Walking braces are generally worn like a boot. The brace completely covers the foot and the lower leg in a rigid plastic shell with plenty of padding to cut down on swelling. This kind of brace provides maximum support and completely immobilizes the ankle as it heals. They cannot be worn over your normal shoe, and they generally provide maximum support and complete immobilization of the ankle.