Yes. If you are a soccer player, then you have to wear an ankle brace whenever you’re out on the field.
Of all soccer-related injuries, ankle sprains are among the most common, yet so many players opt out of wearing an ankle brace.
Well, true, wearing an ankle brace will restrict your range of movement to an extent.
However, look at it this way: is it better to have to your performance slightly hampered or would you instead rather end your ambitions by sustaining an injury which will leave you unable to play the sport ever again?
The former, of course.
Better yet, as you will come, you see, not all ankle braces are designed the same. While some braces are designed to restrict ankle movement, others are designed to enhance the player’s performance.
So, you can find a brace that best suits you, without sacrificing neither your performance nor the health of your ankles.
How Do You Wrap an Ankle for Soccer?
Playing soccer involves a lot of footwork. The player is continually running up and down the field, and often, they will have to make sudden changes in direction.
All this movement could leave the ankle vulnerable, which is why taking your ankles is essential.
Ankle taping is done as a preventative measure, and it is a fundamental aspect of the game. When you wrap your ankle, you enhance the support and stability of your joints and muscles.
As a result, therefore, you drastically reduce your chances of sustaining an ankle injury.
So how do you wrap an ankle for soccer?
Well, the first thing to consider is that you would rather have someone help you with this. This way, they can focus on wrapping while you focus on positioning your foot correctly.
Step 1: While seated on a table or bench, hang your foot off the edge.
Step 2: Angle your foot at 90° such that your toes are towards your nose. Maintain your foot in this position throughout the duration of the wrapping process.
Step 3: Place heel and lace pads on the front and back of the ankle. This helps protect against friction, causing blisters and chaffing. Ideally, the pads should go where the foot meets the soccer shoe.
Step 4: Fully wrap the ankle using Pre-Wrap. Make sure the Pre-Wrap covers the entire area where the tape is going to get in contact with the skin.
Start wrapping from your ankles, working your way down to the ball of the foot then back up again ending just below the calf muscles. Ensure that the layers overlap for maximum cover-up.
Step 5: Apply the athletic tape, paying attention to these major components:
Anchor strips placed at the top of the Pre-Wrap.
Anchor strip around the ankles.
U-shaped stirrups under the heel.
Horseshoes around the ankle.
Figure 8s for heel locks.
Step 6: Once the wrap is done, flex your ankles to test your range of movement. The tape should be firm, but it shouldn’t cut off circulation to your toes. If you feel pins or a tingling sensation in your feet, undo the tape and re-do it.
For a visual explanation of this ankle wrapping process, perhaps this video might help:
Types of Ankle Braces for Soccer
Lace-Up Ankle Braces
Lace-up ankle braces have been around since 1887. Just as the name suggests, these braces can be laced up around the ankle in a figure 8.
Lace-up guards often feel comfortable because they are made from fabric. On the downside, however, they tend to lose support quickly, and with time, the fabric can easily wear and tear.
Lace-up ankle braces best suit players on a budget and those who just need mild ankle support. Thereby, it is not advisable to wear a lace-up if you intend to engage in a high-intensity soccer session.
Hard Plastic / Rigid Ankle Braces
Rigid ankle braces have been in the market since 1985. These are made from hard plastics, and they come with a pivoting hinge which allows for full ankle movement in an up and down motion.
This hinge design allows for jumping and running without any restrictions. Also, because of the rigid design, this kind of brace offers longer-lasting support when compared to lace-up braces.
The downside is that this brace can feel bulky and uncomfortable, especially when worn for prolonged periods. Additionally, it can affect a player’s touch and control of the soccer ball.
A rigid ankle brace would best suit a player requiring moderate ankle support.
Soft-Shell Ankle Braces
Soft-shell ankle braces were introduced in the year 2000. These advanced braces use a soft-shell design which uses a player’s body heat to provide a custom fit innovatively.
These braces fit according to a player’s foot structure.
They are therefore very flexible, comfortable and provide optimum support. Better yet, these form-fitting braces can be worn in a low-profile design, thereby giving a comfortable fit even in a tight-fitting soccer cleat.
These braces are suitable for players needing mild or moderate ankle support. Additionally, the cuffs are very durable hence offering a cost-effective option for players.
These look very similar to an ordinary sock. Unlike a regular sock, however, sleeve braces are often made from a stiff material which supports the joints using compression.
Sleeve braces are by far the most comfortable ankle brace, and they are also very easy to wash. The downside, however, is that they do not offer a high level of ankle stability.
Singe Strap Braces
A single strap brace comes in the form or a long band, and they work almost like wrapping your ankle with athletic tape. The strap wraps around the foot, so it can be made as loose or as tight as desired.
Because of their slim profile, these braces can comfortably be worn inside a tight-fitting soccer cleat. Similar to sleeve braces, single strap braces are also easy to clean. They also only offer mild to moderate ankle support.
How to Choose the Right Soccer Ankle Brace for You?
Fit & Comfort
Does the brace foot snug around your foot? Would you be able to wear your soccer cleats while wearing the brace? Can you wear the brace for prolonged periods without experiencing any discomfort?
The right brace should feel locked-in, without being too tight such that it restricts blood flow. If you feel some pain after wearing the brace for a while, then that’s not a proper fit.
Level of Protection & Flexibility
What’s your ankle’s range of movement while wearing the brace? Do you require mild, moderate or a high level of ankle protection?
A brace offering mild protection will give a flexible fit while one offering high levels of ankle protection will feel quite rigid.
Construction & User-friendliness
What material is the brace made from? Is it breathable? Does it offer heat insulation? Is the material sturdy and durable? How easy is it to put on and take off the ankle brace?
We all wish to get an ankle brace which blends with the rest of our sporting gear. However, prioritize performance over aesthetics.