Are Ankle Guards Good or Bad for Runners?

A Marathon Runnig Race Underway

There are many types of ankle braces designed to prevent further injury. There is neoprene ankle support that provides heat and compression to the area (there are also compression sleeves that won’t provide heat but will still offer similar support). Lace-up ankle braces are low profile and help support your lower leg in general. Ankle guards, also known as ankle braces, are designed to provide ankle support and protect your ankles from injury. Ankle guards are used by runners and other athletes to prevent ankle sprains, prevent ankle pain, and support other ligaments. However, prolonged use of ankle guards might reduce the range of motion of your ankle joints. Wearing ankle guards over the long term might cause your muscles to adapt, resulting in diminished support and weakening your ankle joints as well as your achilles tendon.


Strong ankles are crucial for running because they support the rest of your body. Weak ankles provide improper support and are more prone to injury. If you have weak ankles or have injured your ankle, wearing ankle guards can help compress and stabilize your ankle. Wearing breathable ankle guards is particularly beneficial if you have sprained your ankle in the past. Ankle guards help reduce the recurrence of ankle sprains, according to orthopedic technician John Vonhof. In addition to ankle guards, good running shoes will provide extra support and injury prevention.


A push ankle brace supports the ankle joint, and the pressure is adjustable. Researchers at the Department of Kinesiology in Belgium examined the effect of push ankle braces worn by long-distance runners. The study, published in the April 1997 issue of the "International Journal of Sports Medicine," found that these types of ankle guards appear to protect runners from ankle injuries associated with overuse. For many long-distance runners, a push ankle brace is often the best ankle support for sprained ankles and runners suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Reduces Speed

Lace-up ankle guards provide heavy-duty support to prevent ankle injuries. There's a concern that this type of brace may restrict your ankles' functional range of motion in a way that hinders performance. This is especially important to consider in sports like soccer and volleyball where fast twitch muscles are used. A review published in the March 1999 issue of the journal "Sports Medicine'' reviewed literature on how lace-up ankle guards affect running speed. Researchers found clinical data showing that lace-up ankle guards negatively affect running speed.


Functional ankle guards are designed for ankle stability without restricting your range of motion. Choosing a more restrictive type of ankle guard may influence your running speed. Ankle guards might help protect you from re-injuring your ankle but consulting an athletic trainer on the best ankle braces for you may be the best way to go. If you are prone to running injuries or sports injuries (such as stress fractures), talking with a physical therapist or healthcare professional to get exercises and pain relief tips is the best way to go.