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Thread: Ankle braces

  1. #1
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    Default Ankle braces

    Iím definitely feeling like jumping on board the trail runner rather than hiking boot train. I see a lot of logic to it. However, on a short outing last weekend I rolled my ankle a quarter mile in and limped the next two days. Wrapping it in an ace bandage helped. But considering getting a light weight sturdy brace to wear under my shoes to keep from more ankle injuries, at least until I develop better skills/muscle hiking. Does anyone else do this? Any reason not to?

  2. #2
    Registered User One Half's Avatar
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    wearing a brace will inhibit your muscles from developing along with robbing your body of it's ability to improve proprioception.
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    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Start doing various ankle and calf exercises. You can do calf raises with just your body weight, get a 1' ◊ 1' ◊ 2" thick foam pad and practice standing with one foot on the pad , you can also use a bosu. Just look up exercises to strengthen the ligaments and tendons as well as the muscle strength.

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    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Half View Post
    wearing a brace will inhibit your muscles from developing along with robbing your body of it's ability to improve proprioception.
    I had to look up proprioception , aka muscle memory?

  5. #5

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    Stand barefoot on a floor on one foot. Have something to grab onto on either side. Stand looking forwards for 30 seconds and then ramp up to 1 minute,then graduate to the same with your eyes closed. That is going to help. Worth booking a session or two with physical therapist out of pocket and they can show you several exercises to boost you ankle support

    I used to use heavy boots with lots of ankle support (Limmers) and still used to roll my ankles but when I did roll them I was out of commission for days. I switched to trail runners and poles and my ankle rolls were less often and it was quick recovery. Cuss for a couple of minutes and start hiking again and by the time I got to the trailhead it really wasnt that noticeable. I did break my ankle about a year ago from an ankle roll and it was with mid height boots rather than my trail runners. I have subsequently bought and discarded athletic type ankle supports as they really mess up my stride. I do have one on the pack but its really just a limp home device.

    I also have an internal ankle support, a strip of titanium with 7 screws on one side and two screws on the other side but strongly recommend you avoid the approach .

  6. #6

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    This is the ankle brace/stabilizer I use. Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer

  7. #7

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    I was having ankle turning issues with trail shoes despite exercises designed to strengthen the ankle. After seeing a few "sports medicine" doctors over the years (not sure what makes them sports doctors as opposed to orthopedic physicians) the last of which determined ligaments on the weak ankle have been stretched out over a 50-year hiking history, along with some poorly healed tears that grew back together oddly. My condition was/is chronic. Surgery would be pretty much the only option however, there was no guarantee and also had some risk that I was not prepared to take at the time.

    In conversation with people on trails I ran across an orthopedic surgeon who suggested mid-high boots might help stabilize the ankle. I had never used this type of boot before having gone from pretty heavy leather high-top boots to trail shoes. This sounded like good advice and since I needed to get some new shoes anyway I looked at them. I found a pair of mid-high boots that were $20.00 more expensive and only 5-oz per pair heavier than my trail shoes and decided to give these a try. What a difference! I found they provided just the right amount of support that helps stabilize the weak ankle and respond well when the ankle tries to turn on missteps and other problems people with ankle problems seem to find along the trail.

    Hard to say if this will work for everyone with weakened ankles, but I was really surprised at what they did for me.

    Best of luck!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    In conversation with people on trails I ran across an orthopedic surgeon who suggested mid-high boots might help stabilize the ankle. I had used this type of boot before having gone from pretty heavy leather high-top boots to trail shoes.
    What are mid-high boots?
    Last edited by gpburdelljr; 11-03-2022 at 10:16.

  9. #9
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    This is the ankle brace/stabilizer I use. Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer
    I use this brace also. It was recommended by a VA podiatrist and a private practice podiatrist. They also recommended this sole insert, which you can get from Amazon (very expensive).

    I never wore an ankle brace, but it will be part of my hiking gear along with hiking boots going forward. While hiking the PCT earlier this year, I completely tore a tendon from the left ankle (loud pop when it happened). You can't reattach a tendon, so if I ever want to hike again, the doctors told me to wear the brace and a good sole insert.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    What are mid-high boots?
    Mid-high boots, some retailers refer to them as "mids", have a higher height over/above the ankle than trail shoes or trail runners and lower height over/above the ankle than high-top boots. Their design, for me anyway, provides support points for my ankle that trail shoes/runners do not have and high-top boots miss by an inch or so.

    Trail shoeShoe.png Mid-high bootMid-high.png High-top boothigh top boots.png

  11. #11

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    Went from trail shoe to Mid High and broke my ankle.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Went from trail shoe to Mid High and broke my ankle.
    Are you saying switching to the Mid High caused you to break your ankle? If so, how?

  13. #13

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    Yes, it you look at the physics, a higher boot tends to concentrate the load from an ankle roll up a bit higher on the ankle. It's a matter of leverage. There is sort of similar analogy with ski boots, folks used to break ankles and lower legs until they went to modern boots and now all the injuries are blown out knees.

    I have used trail runners since they came out including 3/4s of the AT (after having issues with higher heavier boots) and year round hiking in the whites. I usually switch to higher boot for colder weather hiking and snowshoeing. Luckily its real hard to roll an ankle with snow shoes except in an uncontrolled fall.

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    A bit of a rabbit trail, but you might find this helpful. When I thought about switching from traditional hiking boots to trail runners, I was very concerned about the lack of ankle support. I finally made the switch and what I discovered is that because I always use trekking poles, it became a natural reaction to shift my weight from a foot to my poles whenever I would begin to turn an ankle or slip. My fear of unprotected ankles vanished. I've hiked hundreds of miles in trail runners, and in reflection I realize that I had more ankle turns in leather hiking boots than I have in trail runners.

  15. #15

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    Even without poles, you may learn to unweight the twisting foot in time to avoid injury. I have strong ankles from ice skating and cross country skiing. YMMV
    Hot water, hot ramen, burning alcohol, all in my lap

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Yes, it you look at the physics, a higher boot tends to concentrate the load from an ankle roll up a bit higher on the ankle. It's a matter of leverage. There is sort of similar analogy with ski boots, folks used to break ankles and lower legs until they went to modern boots and now all the injuries are blown out knees.

    I have used trail runners since they came out including 3/4s of the AT (after having issues with higher heavier boots) and year round hiking in the whites. I usually switch to higher boot for colder weather hiking and snowshoeing. Luckily its real hard to roll an ankle with snow shoes except in an uncontrolled fall.
    FWIW similar change in basketball player injuries as they switched from high top to low top shoes.

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    I have also experienced many fewer ankle rolls, and less severity when it does happen, after transitioning from the full hiking boots to low-cut trail shoes. I think that another aspect of it is that I have a better "feel" for my foot contact with the ground, with better recognition of when my ankle is starting to roll, and better ability to adjust to avoid it.

  18. #18

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    For years I have advocated just watching what thru hikers are wearing when they end up at Katahdin, 40 years ago tall leather boots were pretty standard. I was on the trail the nineties when New Balance flipped the AT hiking world by coming up with the New Balance 801 trail runner. Thru hikers were ditching their boots down south and even finding a pair of 801s was just about impossible. They bumped up production the next year and they owned the trail the next year while several lookalikes from other shoe brands came out. I was doing week long section hikes in the spring in fall at the time with heavy boots (Limmers) and still rolled my ankles and when I did it would take a few days to recover. One spring we did the Cumberland Valley road walk early on a week long hike and half way through I had to ditch the boots and switch to Teva sandals on the rocky section north of Duncannon. I did 21 miles one day and another with the Tevas before getting in the car and driving home. When I got home, I retired the Limmers and switched to trail runners. I have used variations of the New Balance trail runners for over 20 years and never had an issue despite the majority of my hiking in the whites. I also have used poles for even longer than trail runners. I was not using my poles when I did in my ankle as it was easy walking. I find the vast majority of ankle rolls are near the end of hike when the trail has transitioned to smoother footing so I pick up the pace and start paying less attention to the trail condition.

    HYOH but IMHO, if a person is actively hiking on a frequent basis, I see no real advantage to higher boots for ankle support. Trail runners do get shredded by trail work so if I plan to be building trail, then I may consider using a heavier boot for durability.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 11-07-2022 at 10:23.

  19. #19

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    It used to be leather high-top boots were about all one used on trails, but over the past 20 years that landscape has changed. Years ago I got into the habit of tracking all my outdoor excursions, regardless of duration, using various data points like mileage, elevation, and weather information. I also track foot gear along with other equipment for comparative purposes that provides useful data for me but may not for others. Having tried several brands of trail runners, shoes, and boots over a long time, I found the data generated matches pretty well with other data I have seen in publications and on this forum on various footgear.

    I found I get about 300 miles out of trail runners before they start breaking down to the point I lose confidence in their grip. Trail shoes are a little better in the wear department for me, getting about 500 miles before they are pretty well used up. Mid-high boots get me to about the 700 - 800 mile mark before they start showing their age. High-top leather boots tend to get me over 1,000 miles, my last pair was 1,440-miles before they lost grip from tread ware.

    Ligaments in my right ankle being stretched out coupled with a poorly healed tear that no amount of exercise will help have been a problem for a number of years which has caused me to look at all kinds of different footgear, which brought me to the "seasonal shoe concept". I will wear a pair of trail shoes for summer use with family on groomed trails. Mid-high boots I found hit the right places on the ankle and work well both on and off trail and of late are the go-to shoe for most hikes, the high-top boots I use mostly in winter with snowshoes and doing trail maintenance work (which is less and less these days).

    I really don't recommend a specific type of shoe for anyone given the physiological differences between people. I found a type that works for me better than the others, though my luck with manufacturers changing the very things in a shoe that I like may lead this hunt into a different direction.

  20. #20
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Stand barefoot on a floor on one foot. Have something to grab onto on either side. Stand looking forwards for 30 seconds and then ramp up to 1 minute,then graduate to the same with your eyes closed. That is going to help.
    Beat me to it. I had severe ankle turning issues throughout HS stemming from a very bad sprain, that continued into early adulthood. Just hitting the slightest uneven spot and my ankle would roll all the way over and you could hear/feel the tearing.ugh. The balancing on one foot for me was the single most beneficial part of my rehab. I've taken up trail running and hiking since and no more issues.
    It is what it is.

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