There really shouldn’t be any controversy or negative publicity around ankle braces. They can protect you, help you stay active, and give your injured ligaments a chance to heal. Wearing one does not weaken your ankles. With a healthy understanding and the knowledge that no brace is perfect, there is usually no harm in wearing one for most of your sports events.
Still, there is some resistance to wearing ankle braces. Here are a few of the counterarguments we have heard:
Ankle braces set you up for knee injuries. There is no lab evidence for this. We think this idea comes from a lab study where researchers found different kinetic patterns when athletes wearing ankle braces jumped and then landed. Different forces do not equal more injuries, and the study never said it did.
Ankle braces weaken your ankles. This is based on the idea that braces immobilize the ankle, so the muscles do not have a chance to stay strong through use. But no brace completely holds an ankle still. Also, rigid braces are designed to be worn just during games, unless otherwise directed by a doctor. Braces are not made to be worn at all times, and even if you did, it would not make your ankles weaker.
An ankle brace will weaken how well you play. This is, again, based on the idea that an ankle brace immobilizes your ankle and doesn’t let you get a full range of motion, but in reality, braces are designed to keep you in the game. The only thing that would immobilize your ankle would be a cast, and we certainly hope you aren’t attempting to play your sport with broken bones.