Despite being a no-contact sport, running can put you at greater risk for some injuries than other types of exercise. One common running injury is an ankle sprain.
To reduce your risk of spraining an ankle – or of re-injuring an old ankle sprain – an ankle brace can be worn while running.
An ankle brace will serve as the best protection for your ankles against strains and sprains, providing your ankle with stability and support while running (especially for trail runners). It also helps reduce the impact on your ankles and your knees.
If you have sprained your ankle before, it’s recommended to wear an ankle brace while running. This helps to prevent re-injuring your ankle. A previously sprained ankle is at much greater risk for re-injury.
But which ankle brace should you buy? Which ones are most suitable for running?
In this article, we review the best ankle braces for running.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Zamst Filmista Ankle
Bauerfeind Sports Ankle Support
Pro-Tec Athletics Achilles Tendon Support
Top Braces for General Ankle Pain
We have found the following ankle braces to be the best for dealing with general ankle pain. This includes any type of ankle soreness you experience running or during other types of exercise.
These options are generally not recommended for ankle sprains or more serious injuries. Instead, they are better for providing ankle support and managing pain.
1. Zamst Filmista Ankle
The Zamst Filmista Ankle is an ankle wrap that offers ankle support. It is the quicker and easier equivalent to taping and bandaging. In fact, this product is geared toward athletes who run a lot. It offers protection and light compression for your ankle.
The Zamst Filmista Ankle is designed to be worn right next to the skin (under a sock instead of on top of a sock). Even when you are running, the Zamst Filmista Ankle will remain secure and comfortable. This product reduces the inversion of your ankle without hindering its movement.
It is made of two types of elastic urethane films compressed on top of a core material, all of which enable it to achieve strength, thinness, and a good fit.
The Zamst Filmista Ankle is left- and right-foot specific, so be sure to buy the correct one for each foot. You don’t want to end up with two right-footed braces!
- Worn next to the skin like athletic tape, but quicker and easier to put on
- Doesn’t interfere with ankle’s plantar dorsiflexion
- Reduces inversion movement of ankle
- Can be worn with all athletic footwear
- Anti-slip design
- May not provide enough support
2. McDavid MD5122 Ankle Sleeve 4-Way Elastic w/ Figure 8 Straps
The MD5122 ankle sleeve from McDavid offers supportive compression for your ankle.
But it also retains minimal heat to keep you comfortable while running. It is great for preventing or helping with general ankle pain and soreness.
This ankle sleeve is constructed from a four-way stretch elastic material (not neoprene, so it’s good for those allergic to neoprene). It has been engineered for increased compression without the usual heat retention of such a close-fitting sleeve.
This brace, like many other ankle braces, is intended to be worn over your socks, not next to the skin. It also features a strap system designed like a figure eight in order to provide greater comfort, support, and stability to your ankle.
The gel buttresses in the lateral and medial area serve to target your soft tissue with supportive compression. This product is not left/right specific, so the same sleeve can be used on either foot (You don’t have to worry about accidentally buying two left feet).
- Can be used by those allergic to neoprene
- Figure eight strap design offers more support, stability, and comfort
- Gel buttresses provide supportive compression targeting the soft tissue
- Four-way stretch elastic material offers better fit and compression without retaining heat
- Sizing is not always accurate
3. OS1st AF7 Ankle Bracing Sleeve
The AF7 Ankle Bracing Sleeve from OS1st provides a lightweight and comfortable alternative to traditional ankle braces.
It offers immediate relief from any ankle pain and injury – especially sore and swollen ankles. It also improves your balance and stabilizes weak ankles.
The AF7 utilizes K-Zone Technology (KZT), which offers the supportive nature of a kinesiology tape treatment without the nuisance of its binding. And unlike KT tape, this brace can be reused.
KZT utilizes a hypoallergenic gel stabilizing system. This sleeve helps to stabilize and compress to reduce swelling and pain. It also supports weak ankles, and is quite comfortable.
The AF7 can be worn under your socks for more support when you are participating in sporting activities. It is specific to either your left or your right foot, so make sure you buy the correct ones!
- Strapless, comfortable, lightweight, soft, and durable
- Offers compression, support, stability, pain relief, and swelling reduction
- Features KZT to offer steadiness and support to secure joint structures
- Great for extra support while exercising
- Some users have found sizing to be inaccurate; try on to determine correct size before buying
4. Zensah Elite Gel Compression Ankle Sleeve
This Elite Gel Ankle Support Brace from Zensah features a removable strap to provide ankle support while leaving you with a full range of motion.
It stabilizes your ankle and helps to prevent it from rolling, even when you are working out.
The sleeve is constructed from breathable material that is comfortable and lightweight. It also features two anatomical gel pads on either side of the ankle. These redistribute pressure and help to support your ankle without restricting movement.
The strap, which is removable, will provide your ankle with stability as well as targeted compression. This sleeve is not left/right specific.
- Anatomical gel pads offer redistribution pressure and protection
- Made of lightweight, breathable, anti-odor, moisture-wicking fabric
- 3D Geo Tech Ribbing offers active relief
- Removable strap offers tailored stability and targeted compression
- Will not immobilize ankle in the case of an ankle sprain
5. CEP Ankle Support Short Socks
The CEP Ankle Support Short Socks offer stabilization as well as healing compression, which aids in your recovery from mild ankle injuries.
These socks can be worn with almost all types of footwear. They will support your ankles when they are recovering from fatigue and soreness.
These ankle support short socks come with smart silicone pads positioned to stabilize and protect your ankles. The compression offered by these socks increases circulation and reduces swelling.
The socks are made from a strong yet breathable material, which increases your comfort while exercising. They are not left right specific, so the same sock can be worn on either foot.
- Smart silicone pads stabilize and protect ankles
- No need to wear other socks with your shoes, since these are socks
- Supplies compression (20 to 30 mmHg) to increase circulation and reduce swelling
- Helps sore ankle recover properly
- More expensive than other ankle braces in this category
- May not provide enough support
Best Braces For Ankle Sprains
The next few ankle braces are the best for dealing with a sprain. If you have injured your ankle (instead of just being sore), these braces will immobilize and support the ankle while you recover.
6. Bauerfeind Sports Ankle Support
The Bauerfeind Sports Ankle Support offers stability for your ankle after a sprain and serves to improve joint awareness. It was designed in close cooperation with elite athletes, such as NBA players. In fact, this company manufactures officially licensed sports rehabilitation products for the NBA.
This ankle brace includes customizable stability for your ankle through a taping strap. The 3D Air knit technology offers medical-grade compression to reduce muscle vibrations. It will improve circulation while reducing joint, ligament, and tendon loads.
The material is lightweight, washable, and moisture-wicking. It combines ankle stabilization with freedom of movement.
This product treats swelling and ankle sprains while allowing athletes to stay active. It is left/right side-specific for a perfect, anatomically correct fit.
- Treats ankle sprains while still allowing mobility and performance
- Medical grade compression improves circulation and gets rid of damaging muscle vibrations
- Comfortable, lightweight, washable, and moisture-wicking material
- Individually adjustable ankle stabilization with figure eight strap system
- Reduced joint, ligament, and tendon loads
- Designed for athletes who need to move after an ankle sprain and not for those whose ankles must be more or less immobilized
7. McDavid MD195 Ankle Brace w/ Straps
The MD195 Ankle Brace w/ Straps, another model from McDavid, is perhaps the most protective and stabilizing of all the ankle braces on this list. It is exactly what many doctors would prescribe to you when treating your ankle sprain.
The MD195 offers incredible ankle support to heal ankle sprains and injuries and to prevent them as well.
The MD195 features a figure-six strapping system. This allows for adjustable customization. It can be tightened easily and quickly without having to remove your shoes.
The laces and straps secure and protect your ankle, providing it with support, protection, and security. The reinforced closures and padded lining aid with compression and offer a comfortable fit.
The brace features a ventilated tongue and breathable material. It is not left/right specific, and is designed to be worn over socks.
- Great support and stability for ankle sprains
- Completely adjustable figure-six strapping system
- Top strap offers custom fit and compression comfort
- Also great for preventing ankle injuries
- A bit bulky
8. Zamst A1-S
The A1-S, another model from Zamst, offers a low profile brace designed to treat mild to moderate ankle sprains.
The A1-S possesses superior Flyweight-TECH which offers enhanced construction and a lightweight design. This brace also features an L-Strap design which includes Grip-TECH, which serves to stabilize your ankle. The Exo-Grid stabilizer, which is internal, provides enhanced stability.
This brace can be worn next to the skin and is left/right specific.
- Treats mild- to moderate-level ankle sprains
- Flyweight-TECH provides enhanced construction and a lightweight design
- Grip-TECH stabilizes ankle and prevents inversion
Top Braces for Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of your Achilles tendon. It’s caused by intense or repetitive strain on your Achilles tendon.
If you are dealing with Achilles tendonitis, then the following ankle braces are the best we have found for helping you to recover from your injury.
9. Pro-Tec Athletics Achilles Tendon Support
The Achilles Tendon Support from Pro-Tec Athletics may be the simplest and most minimal-looking brace on this list. But it gets the job done.
It alleviates Achilles tendonitis pain you may experience while walking or running.
The contoured EVA compression pad surrounds your Achilles tendon. It offers targeted compression while remaining comfortable. An elastic strap lifts your heel, aiding in preventing any sudden stretches or strains to the tendon.
The Pro-Tec Athletics Achilles Tendon Support is designed to be worn over a sock. It is not left/right specific.
- Alleviates condition of Achilles tendonitis
- Offers targeted compression to Achilles tendon
- Alleviates pain while walking or running
- Offers heel lift to prevent any sudden strains or stretches to tendon
- Will not work instantly to relieve your condition
10. McDavid MD4100 Runners’ Therapy Achilles Sleeve
The McDavid MD4100 Runners’ Therapy Achilles Sleeve offers support for your Achilles tendon.
The MD4100 features an anatomical dual compression design that provides enhanced support, pain relief, and recovery. Its contoured support pad targets your Achilles tendon. The lightweight, ergonomic design provides excellent fit and can be used for basically any workout situation.
The MD4100 is made with breathable, moisture-wicking fabric with four-way stretch. It is not left/right specific, and will fit either foot.
- Offers targeted compression and contoured support to Achilles tendon
- Anatomical dual compression design
- Made with breathable, moisture-wicking fabric with four-way stretch
- Sizing runs small
11. Bauerfeind AchilloTrain
The AchilloTrain from Bauerfeind alleviates Achilles tendonitis by stabilizing, and supporting your Achilles tendon. It does so without restricting mobility.
This brace is designed for tendonitis, post-surgery therapy, pain in the back of your heel, and inflammation around your tendon.
Distributing pressure offers a threefold therapeutic effect, and the AchilloTrain focuses on this. It reduces impact, relieves pain, and produces a massage effect that prevents the buildup of fluid.
Its three-dimensional, contoured knit conforms to your ankle’s natural shape, allowing it mobility while providing it stability. It even fits well in your instep.
Cushioning on your heels and Achilles keeps it comfortable for all-day wear. It is made from breathable material to prevent the buildup of moisture. It is left/right specific to achieve a perfect fit.
- Alleviates condition of Achilles tendonitis
- Is really good at relieving pain
- Distributes pressure uniformly in order to reduce impact
- Provides stability to ankle while allowing mobility
- Very expensive (but seems to be worth every penny)
12. Zamst AT-1
The AT-1 from Zamst provides light support and keeps your heel positioned to prevent pronation and supination.
Its two interior pads enable your Achilles tendon to keep a smooth motion and to glide in alignment, helping to prevent and treat Achilles tendonitis.
Furthermore, the AT-1 features an A-Strap that helps to push your foot down through the many adjustable Velcro fasteners. This A-Strap thus serves to reduce any tension on your Achilles tendon as the heel strikes the surface.
The Flyweight-TECH of this AT-1 offers lightweight construction and advanced material fabrication. It is not left/right specific.
- Lightweight, comfortable construction provides light support
- Prevents pronation and supination
- Reduces Achilles tendon tension and allows for smooth motion
- May not be suitable or offer enough support for high impact sports
- Heel design may not provide proper fit for some users
How long should I wear an ankle brace after a sprain?
If you have a sprain and not a higher grade injury (a fracture, for instance), a general rule of thumb is that a brace be worn for between one and three weeks. This will help reduce swelling and pain.
A brace will help promote the healing of your ankle by keeping it stable and immobilized.
However, the ultimate answer as to how long an ankle brace should be worn after a sprain lies with your doctor’s diagnosis. So consult your doctor for a definitive answer on how long you should wear the ankle brace.
How do I put on an ankle brace?
Loosen the ankle brace until it can slide onto your foot with ease. Make sure that your heel fits into the heel area of the ankle brace.
Once your heel has gone all the way into the back of the brace, tighten the ankle brace just as you would the laces on a shoe. Once the laces are tight, tie them like you would tie your shoelaces.
Take one strap and wrap it so it goes all the way under your foot and around your ankle, securing the strap as tightly as you can. Do the same with all the straps on the brace, making sure that each of the straps wraps under the foot and around the ankle. Tighten as necessary.
Can I wear an ankle brace with shoes?
In general, your ankle brace should be able to be worn with shoes. All of the braces reviewed in this article are compatible with shoes.
It is best to choose an ankle brace that can be worn with shoes, because your ankle may not be properly supported without shoes. Keep in mind, though, that not all shoes can accommodate braces equally. Some models of running shoes are designed to be snug in the midfoot, and this style especially might not work with a brace. If you have a pair that is roomier and more accommodating, choose those while you are in the brace.
How tight should an ankle brace be?
The ankle brace should not be so tight that your circulation is cut off. But it should definitely be tight enough to lock in your ankle and restrict the motion of your ankle.
After you put your ankle brace on and tighten it, check for the presence of circulation by doing the following: pinch the nail of your big toe.
Then watch to see if color comes back to the nail or not. If the color does not return, your ankle brace is cutting off your circulation and should be loosened somewhat.