Ankle injuries suck – but there are ways to heal faster and prevent them occurring.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ve reviewed 8 of the best soccer ankle braces on the market right now.
We’ve also detailed some key things to consider when buying, to help you choose the right brace for your specific needs.
No time to spare? Check out our handy table to compare our top picks:
Buyer’s Guide: What You Need To Know
In this section, we’ll detail some key things to consider when buying an ankle brace for soccer.
Already know what you need? Skip to our reviews.
Why use an ankle brace?
Soccer involves placing a lot of stress on your ankle. Not only will you be running around for 90 minutes (possibly on a bumpy pitch), you’ll also be locking your ankle in place to shoot and pass the ball. What’s more, you’re prone to having your ankle hurt in tackles when playing a clumsy opposition.
Ankle braces can help you to recover from such injuries while minimizing pain when playing on a sprained/strained ankle. They can also prevent further injury from occurring for those who are prone to twisted ankles.
Obviously, if you step in a pothole or get slide tackled really badly, ankle braces can’t save you every time. However, they are very useful for recovery and preventing sprains.
What should I look for in a soccer ankle brace?
Buying an ankle brace for soccer isn’t quite the same as buying an ankle brace for running or walking.
The first thing you’ve got to consider is how the brace will fit inside your shoes. Soccer cleats are supposed to be worn quite tight to improve your feel for the ball and to prevent blisters. Therefore, having a bulky ankle brace might feel a bit uncomfortable.
However, you’ve got to be sure that your purchase will provide enough protection. Even though you’ll need to choose a relatively low-profile ankle brace to fit it inside your cleats, it will also need to be strong enough to support your ankle properly.
Different types of ankle braces
Here are the three main types of ankle braces for soccer:
- Sleeve braces are by far the most comfortable to wear. They look like a sort of sock, but are a bit stiffer, offering support by means of compression. Although they’re easy to clean, they don’t offer an incredible amount of stability.
- Semi-rigid braces offer better overall support, but may feel uncomfortable when worn inside some tighter soccer cleats. This is because they’re secured in place with straps and/or laces, meaning they’re a bit bulkier than most compression models. Semi-rigid stabilizers are a recommended option for those recovering from more serious ankle injuries due to the level of support and protection they provide.
- Single-strap braces work like athletic tape in a way. Instead of having a rigid brace secured by a strap, the strap works to stabilize your foot on its own. These products are easy to clean and are slim enough use in conjunction with most tight-fitting soccer cleats. They offer good support but aren’t as stable as semi-rigid products.
How can I prevent ankle injuries?
Ankle injuries most commonly occur when you make a sharp turn, or when you step on an uneven surface (another player’s foot, or a hole in the turf).
To prevent such injuries you can:
- Wear an ankle brace (duh!).
- Exercise your ankle to strengthen the ligaments in your foot. A basic drill you can do is balancing on one leg with your knee flexed or with your hip and knee flexed. Maintain this position for five seconds and repeat ten to fifteen times.
- Get some good cleats. In our experience, more traditional boots like Adidas Copa Mundials tend to offer better support than modern cleats that have a collar.
- Use the right studs – if you’re playing on muddy turf, get SG studs if possible as they’re longer and help to prevent slippage.
How should I wear my ankle brace?
You actually have a lot of options when preparing to play soccer – no longer are you limited to just socks + shin guards + cleats.
- First, tape up any blister-prone areas (like your heel or toes).
- Next, put on your ankle brace. It’s important to ensure you’re wearing it properly: refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to see how you do up the various straps if necessary. If you can, lace it up pretty tight to save room and prevent movement in-game.
- After that, put your shin guards on.
- Then put on your ankle sock and your club’s sock, or just your club sock if that’s what you’re wearing (more below).
- Now, put your cleats on. You might need a shoe horn if they’re really tight.
The soccer socks your club gives you can be very thick and quite poor quality. Some players like to wear ankle-length socks inside their cleat, and cut off their main socks at the ankle to wear them over their shin guards (using tape to keep them down).
For people with ankle braces, getting super-thin ankle-length socks can give you a little bit more room in your cleat, which might be necessary if you’re looking to use a semi-rigid stabilizer while wearing tight-fitting cleats.
How to wash your ankle brace
When you use an ankle brace during a training session or a game, it’s certain to get pretty sweaty. Therefore, it’s worth washing it every two to four uses.
To do so, we recommend hand-washing with detergent in hot water. Leave it to soak and give it a careful wipe over after a few hours or so. Be extra careful if your brace has rigid plastic in it – you might want to check with the manufacturer to see if these pieces are removable or whether they are fine to soak in hot water.
If the label says it’s safe, you can also machine-wash ankle stabilizers. Be sure to use delicate settings though.
The difference between ankle braces and ankle protectors
Ankle braces are to stop your ankle rolling over. They’re designed to help reduce pain and stress on your injured ligaments – this is what this guide focuses on (and they’re what we’ve reviewed further down the page).
Ankle protectors on the other hand (like the ones below) are more like shin guards for your ankles. They’re meant to shield against tackles and kicks that would otherwise leave bruises.
Best Soccer Ankle Braces
1. Mueller XLP Ankle Brace (Lace-Up)
Mueller has gone for a different approach to what most other rigid brace producers are doing. Instead of including straps as well as laces, the company has only included laces and left out the straps. They’ve also gone for much shorter design – focusing on protecting the ankle/heel area rather than extending the brace into the forefoot. As a result, you should be able to use this stabilizer in conjunction with nearly any soccer cleat.
To make up for the lack of strapping, Mueller has included two rigid plastic supports on either side of the ankle to prevent rolling and to protect you in tackles. The rear is made of elastic, which makes running more comfortable and allows you the full range of motion necessary to control the ball, make tackles, and pass to your teammates. As a result, you can focus on the game without being worried about reinjuring your ankle.
The fabric is not only very breathable, it’s also treated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent bacteria buildup and to reduce odors. Plus, the XLP is very reasonably priced considering what you get, and it’s a very durable brace.
We can’t really fault this stabilizer for playing soccer. The only thing to note is that you’re supposed to use it with a sock underneath – consider whether you’d prefer to have a brace that’s in direct contact with your ankle or not.
2. Zensah Compression Ankle Brace (Sleeve)
If you’re recovering from a fairly minor sprain or only suffer occasional ankle rolling, it might not be worth getting a rigid brace.
Zensah’s product looks like a sock, but it’s made of a much stiffer material which offers decent support when running and turning. It doesn’t quite provide the same level of stability as a bulkier brace, but it works well for less injury-prone people and those with less serious strains.
The brace’s compression structure is designed to hold your ankle in place while also improving circulation, which can help to reduce swelling. “3D Geo Tech Ribbing Technology” in the fabric also reduces ankle pain and heel discomfort in-game.
However, the best thing about the Zensah compression brace is how comfortable it is inside your cleats. Since this is such a low-profile sleeve, it’s easy to put your soccer shoes on when wearing it. On the pitch, you can forget you’re even wearing a brace. Since there are no seams on the sleeve, you won’t experience any rubbing inside your cleat.
What’s more, the price is very reasonable, and this brace is super easy to clean. It’s very important to get the right size though, since it’s not an adjustable product.
3. Gonicc Ankle Brace (Sleeve/Strap)
At this point, you might be a bit unsure whether to get a sleeve or a brace with straps and/or laces. You might want the best possible support but may be concerned about whether a bulky brace would fit inside your cleats.
Fortunately, there’s a way to have the best of both worlds.
Gonicc’s brace is similar to Zensah’s product, which we just looked at. It’s a sleeve underneath, meaning it’s fairly breathable, easy to get on, and can fit inside your soccer cleats.
However, this sleeve also comes with a tough strap, which helps to reinforce the main brace and offer better stability. Because there’s just two pieces to this product, and the strap is very thin, it’s easy to get your cleats on when wearing it. You’ll have to place the strap on your foot each time, but this is a fairly simple process.
Plus, Gonicc’s brace is fairly cheap, and you even get a lifetime warranty. The package also comes with two braces (including two straps) so you can support both ankles without having to buy two sets of braces.
4. MEDIZED Ankle Brace (Lace-Up/Strap)
The MEDIZED ankle brace is a more traditional option, as you secure it in place with laces and two separate straps.
As a result, this is probably one of the most secure ankle stabilizers on the market. The laces and double figure-eight straps allow for a fully adjustable fit, meaning you can have the brace as tight or as loose as you need it. If you opt to have it reasonably tight, the support is excellent, due to the sturdy stabilizing pieces fitted on the sides of the brace. For pain relief and protection against further injuries, this is a great pick. What makes it even better is the breathable mesh fabric and the excellent price.
However, as with nearly all semi-rigid braces, it can be quite hard to put your cleat on when wearing the stabilizer. If you’ve got tight cleats (like Superflys or one of Adidas’ laceless Primemesh shoes), you might have issues.
In saying this, it’s nearly always worth sacrificing a little bit of comfort for greater ankle support, particularly if you’re injury-prone. For some players, a sleeve-style stabilizer simply won’t get the job done.
Apart from fit issues, the only other downside to this product is the lack of instructions. Although it’s fairly easy to figure out how to do up the straps, having a guide would be helpful.
5. McDavid Ankle Brace (Lace-Up/Strap)
McDavid is one of the few specialist sport protective gear companies that stocks ankle braces as a part of their product range. They even sponsor Barcelona keeper Marc-André ter Stegen!
Their ankle brace is surprisingly slim for a stabilizer with laces and straps. Despite this, it’ll still be a bit of a struggle to get tight-fitting cleats on when wearing it.
However, McDavid makes up for this with the level of support and comfort their product offers. Made of padded polyester fabric which is designed to fit snugly, this brace offers great stability but will also last you a long time.
Its straps are engineered to mimic athletic tape, the figure-six layout keeping your ankle upright even on uneven pitches. In addition, the tongue has been designed with ventilation in mind, helping your foot to breathe and minimizing sweat levels.
Since the support and build quality of this brace is excellent, the only thing we can fault it on would be the fit. When playing soccer, it can feel a bit bulky, although the overall comfort is excellent.
6. Crucial Compression Ankle Brace (Sleeve)
This is probably one of the best value for money ankle braces available at the moment.
The price of Crucial Compression’s stabilizer is so good in large part because it’s a sleeve-style brace, rather than a more rigid option with straps and laces. As a result, it’s relatively easy to use, even with tight cleats. It’s also very comfortable, as there aren’t any seams/stitches to rub against the outside of your boot. This means fewer distractions on the pitch and more accurate passes, lobs, and shots.
Because there aren’t any adjustable laces or straps, fit can be an issue with sleeve-style braces. However, Crucial Compression has thought of this. They have a “perfect fit guarantee” – meaning you can return your product if it doesn’t fit, no questions asked, for a full refund or a replacement.
What’s more, the durability of the fabric is pretty good, and the outer material is very breathable. Having dry feet can also help to prevent blisters and make your cleats feel more comfortable.
But how’s the actual support? Considering this is just a sleeve, the stability is superb. It’s obviously not as good as what a full-size brace offers, but for minor strains and basic injury prevention, it definitely gets the job done.
7. Venom Ankle Brace (Lace-Up/Strap)
Featuring specialized side-stabilizers and full ankle coverage to prevent rolling, Venom’s brace is perfect for those with serious ankle issues. The support offered by the double strap + laces design helps to prevent sprains while minimizing pain if you’ve already got an injury. Considering the durability of this brace and the stability it provides, the price is very reasonable.
Plus, the neoprene inner padding is super breathable and helps to wick sweat from your skin, making it very comfortable to wear in-game. This means that the brace can begin to smell after a while, but it’s fairly easy to clean it at home.
The only issue with this stabilizer is its size. As with most similar braces, if you’ve got pretty tight cleats, it can be quite hard to get your shoe on. However, for a stabilizer with straps and laces, this product isn’t as bulky as most other options on the market. If you need the best possible support (meaning you can’t go for a sleeve option), Venom’s brace is a great pick.
8. LOKEP Ankle Brace (Strap)
If you’re not a fan of bulky braces but don’t think a sleeve option would provide enough stability, there is another way.
LOKEP’s product is basically a single strap, which you wrap around your ankle as if you were using tape. This allows you to make it as tight (or as loose) as you want it. It also means that the brace is nice and thin, allowing you to get your cleats on with relative ease.
Another benefit of this stabilizer is its weight – it’s nice and light, ensuring you can remain nimble on the ball. Plus, the price is quite reasonable, and you get two straps in each package, allowing you to support both ankles or keep a spare for when your main one is in the wash. The elastic is designed to keep your feet cool by absorbing sweat, so you will want to clean this brace fairly regularly.
The only real issue with this product is the level of stability it provides. It feels more secure than wearing a sleeve stabilizer, but it doesn’t offer the same level of protection as a proper strap/laces brace. For early-stage recovery and those prone to frequent twisted ankles, it might be a better idea to go for a full-size stabilizer, like our #1 pick.
You’ve reached the end of this buyer’s guide!
We hope you found the right ankle brace for yourself or the soccer player in your family. If you’re still not sure what to get, leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you!
About the author
Tom is an accomplished writer, with years of experience producing buyer’s guides and tutorials for athletes online.
And it goes without saying – he’s sports-mad.