Ankle Braces, Foot and Ankle Sleeves
Ankle Braces vs Ankle Sleeves – What is the difference?
When comes to ankle support accessories, ankle braces and ankle sleeves are the two common ones. While both provide support to ankle ligaments and muscles, there are quite some differences in between them.
In a Nutshell:
- Ankle braces are for injuries recovery
- Ankle sleeves are for support to prevent injuries
Ankle braces are normally worn when there is already an existing injury, to prevent further damage to ankle ligaments and muscles, and help in injury recovery.
Ankle Braces are made for people who suffer or have suffered a serious injury like: Ankle Sprain (an injury to the ligaments), Ankle Strain (a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon), and Ankle Fracture (a break in a bone), and other similar injuries such as tendons, which join muscles to bone, and cartilage, which cushions your joints. They are usually made of neoprene with additional support such as metallic hinges to support ankle during movement.
While ankle braces basically act like a “substitute ankle”, ankle sleeves on the other hand do not limit or replace the function of a normal ankle, but are mainly used for regular ankle support to prevent injuries. Ankle sleeves are more apt for regular use by people with weaker ankles.
The most highlighted feature in ankle sleeve is the compression it provides. Compression restricts muscle oscillation and narrows blood vessels, which translates to less stress on the muscles and faster and more efficient blood flow to and from the ankle/foot area. Muscles, ligaments and tendons endure a lot of stress during walking, running, or jumping.
Efficient blood flow is very important to eliminate the waste produced by the muscles (e.g. lactic acid) and to bring oxygen and necessary nutrients to the muscles to facilitate faster recovery. That means reduced discomfort, pain and swelling in just a matter of days.
The compression also reduces muscle vibration and reduces ankle instability, providing the user a more stable foundation that’s very valuable during jumps, twists, and lifts. Lastly, ankle sleeves serve as a very helpful aid during warm-ups since it warms and lubricates the joints.
When to Use Ankle Sleeves
While study does show ankle sleeves and lace-up braces can benefit athlete performance. Other studies also reveal ankle sleeves do help in ankle support. Now the question is when to wear them and how long they should be on?
The answer to this question depends on the compression grade of the ankle sleeves. The ankle sleeves of high compression such as NeoAlly Ankle Sleeves can be used in sports like basketball and intense workouts like weightlifting. Such high compression ankle sleeves are also good for ankle joint pain relief and quick muscle recovery. However, due to its higher compression, this type ankle sleeve can cause discomfort or cut your blood circulation if worn for too long. The moderate or low compression grade ankle sleeves, on the other hand, can be worn longer period, some can even be kept on overnight. Uptofit® Copper Ankle Sleeve, which combines copper with compression, providing moderate compression to ankle and foot. Copper, as studies have proved, prevents odor because it has anti-microbial properties. This types of ankle sleeves can be worn longer and kept on overnight.