Best Shoes for Ankle Support Reviewed & Rated
There is nothing worse than looking forward to your next jog or run, sports meet, or a general outing with your friends or family only to twist or sprain your ankle beforehand. That’s why ankle care in the here and now, as well as prevention, is so important. Whether you are recovering from an injury or trying to prevent one, any of the ten best options for ankle support below will serve your needs. We looked to have a variety of designs, including fashion and functional boots, trainers and hikers to ensure you have variety and choice.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6 hrs of research
Cushioned EVA Midsole
Firm Heel Counter
Easy Double Strap Closure
- Propet Life Walker Strap
- New Balance 928v3
- Danner Kinetic 8" GTX
- KEEN Targhee II
- Dr. Martens 1460
- Vans Sk8-HI
- ASICS Gel Kayano 24
- Ryka Tenacity Cross Trainer
- Easy Spirit Romy
- Under Armour Valsetz RTS
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Propet Life Walker Strap
Cushioned EVA Midsole
Firm Heel Counter
Easy Double Strap Closure
Velcro Loosens with Time
You might have heard the name Propet in relation to footwear for diabetics, and medically approved footwear for all sorts of different foot-related ailments. Well, this very helpful and very versatile brand also has a walking shoe which specializes in providing stability and motion control. The Life Walker Strap is comfortable, orthotic-friendly, and Medicare approved.Read more
The Life Walker Strap comes with a leather upper, a padded collar for extra ankle security, a padded tongue for that snug fit, and a dual-strap closure. These two straps keep you firmly locked inside the sneaker while enabling you to easily put the sneakers on and take them off. The Life Walker comes with an EVA midsole that is cushioned, and a firm heel counter for stability in the rear. The footbed can be removed for your own orthotics if need be, and the outsole has a herringbone pattern in it, for superior traction.
We are inclined to name the Propet Life Walker the best choice on our list. It has everything a solid design of this type needs to have - the right amount of cushioning, stability in the heel, a tongue that fits snugly and a padded collar which keeps the ankle secure. On top of all of that, you are safe from slipping or skidding any time soon, thanks to the traction rubber outsole. What an amazing deal!
2. New Balance 928v3
ROLLBAR Technology for Stability
Motion Control and Guidance
Inflexible for Some
New Balance is a brand which has been at the forefront of the supportive and motion control footwear industry for years. The 928v3 is one of their best designs yet, a classic trainer which is not only comfortable and easy to wear but which also comes with special technologies that deliver stability and motion control right where you need them.Read more
The 928v3 is made from synthetic materials, meaning that its durability may not be up to par as some of our leather options. However, this design makes up for it with its outstanding comfort and stability system. The 928v3 features the ROLLBAR technology which reduces movement in the rear foot, as well as the Walking Strike Path system which stabilizes your foot and guides it through a proper step.
On top of this all, the New Balance 928v3 has a plush, cushioned midsole, a seamless Phantom Liner and is also odor-resistant. What more could we possibly want out of a design which keeps us this safe, this stable, this comfortable, and which also reduces the risk of smelly feet? Amazing!
3. Danner Kinetic 8" GTX
Leather & Canvas Upper
Ankle High Work Boot
Breathable Gore-Tex Lining
Zipper Can Break
This boot provides just the right amount of stability where you need it the most. Made of leather and canvas in the upper, it is also breathable and a great work boot. It is stable, good-looking and has comfort features throughout to ensure that you are able to work all day in comfort. Superior traction completes this boot’s design as a solid performance option.Read more
Often when a boot is waterproof, it also means that it is incapable of breathing. However, with the Kinetic 8" GTX, you get the best of both worlds. The Gore-Tex liner in the boot keeps the water out while also allowing your feet to stay cool and dry. There’s not a whole lot of use in a boot if it leaves you slipping and sliding all over the place. This design features a kinetic outsole that has multi-directional lugs o ensure superior traction.
With the Danner Kinetic 8" GTX, you are getting a hard-working and durable design that will keep your joints stable and leave you comfortable through long days at work. It is breathable and waterproof on top of all that, and you have a good value.
4. KEEN Targhee II
Adjustable Heel Lock
Removable EVA Footbed
Could Be More Durable
Who says you can’t go hiking with joint problems? Not KEEN, who made the Targhee II to be supportive, comfortable and rugged for your time in the outdoors. This boot will transport you over various kinds of ground without affecting your joints and while keeping your feet dry, comfortable, and cool. The heel lock allows you to adjust the level of support too. Score!Read more
No one is comfortable when their feet are damp during exercise or hikes. The Targhee II features a KeenDry membrane on the interior, and waterproof leather upper. This ensures that your feet stay dry while the boot keeps its breathability for cool comfort.
The footbed in the Targhee II is a removable dual density EVA. It is metatomically formed to suit the natural shape of your feet, providing additional comfort. The midsole is also a compressible EVA for cushion and shock absorption.
For exceptional value, you get a design that is not only made to support, but also waterproof and breathable. It has a number of features that are designed for your comfort and it includes adjustable joint support with the heel lock.
5. Dr. Martens 1460
Genuine Leather Upper
Goodyear Welt Construction
Fully Adjustable Lace Closure
Visually Enlarges the Feet
Not for Wide Calves
Behold, the original Dr. Martens boot! The reason this punk classic has a place in this guide is not only because it is a boot, and thus has material around the ankle. No, the 1460 comes with the iconic Dr. Martens air-cushioned sole, which rivals that of Nike in terms of comfort and energy-return, and it all comes in one hardcore, amazingly durable package!Read more
The Dr. Martens 1460 is a classic silhouette that we all know, and it comes with 8 eyelets for a fully adjustable fit. The 1460 is built using the Goodyear welt technique, meaning that it can be resoled easily without damaging the design, which, in turn, means that you will be able to wear this option for practically a decade! Thanks to the air-cushioned sole and the high topline, the 1460 will keep you stable and cushioned in all the right places.
While it may not be the most conventional choice, the Dr. Martens 1460 is a highly versatile boot. You no longer have to belong to a punk or an alternative group of any kind to enjoy all the stabilizing and comfort benefits of this intimidating, yet incredibly long-lasting design!
6. Vans Sk8-HI
Reinforced Toe Area
Great For Skateboarding
Does Not Support Orthotics
Firstly, these high top skateboarding sneakers offer all the support needed while also delivering an outsole with an incredible grip. Secondly, the collar is padded on the Vans Sk8-HI creates a better fit and allows a more comfortable wearing experience. Finally, as you ride and perform your tricks throughout the day, reinforced toecaps help to prevent unruly wear. Check out more from this brand, if you are interested!Read more
The padded collar on these creates a snug fit. In addition to raising the comfort level, the padded collar works to allow your joints mobility and strength while freeing you from the worries of gear. By allowing your feet to remain mobile enough for the demanding tasks of skateboarding, yet, firm enough to provide stability during a trick, the canvas upper is a good choice in its design. In this regard, the canvas is an ideal fit.
The cost of these is size-dependent and stretches from low-to-mid. With both the padded collar and the canvas upper, the Vans Sk8-HI is more than worth its price. With all things considered, the small investment to bring peace of mind while riding is worth every last penny.
7. ASICS Gel Kayano 24
Impact Guidance System Technology
FlyteFoam Midsole Technology
Heel Clutching System Technology
A Bit Costly
First of all, this pair of running sneakers contains a stretchable upper to allow for a glove-like fit. Second, a heel clutching system is in place to provide an even better fit, thus, increasing the support your joints need. An impact guidance system ensures a smoother transition through your natural gait. Finally, in addition to giving you more stability, the comfort results from the wonderful engineering these sneakers offer.Read more
These runners come equipped with FluidFit™ upper technology. Made from mesh and stretch reinforcements, they have multi-directional flexibility. As a result, your joints will be gently cradled thanks to the glove-like fitting design.
The Gel-Kayano 24 has a heel clutching system deployed. This means your heel is in a more acceptable environment via the exoskeletal heel counter. When your heel strikes the ground, there is shock absorption when it is most needed. As such, your joints will be thankful.
With all of the high-quality technologies to help your joins remain strain-free, however, the Gel-Kayano 24 is well worth the investment. After all, great foot stability decreases the chance for a sprain.
8. Ryka Tenacity Cross Trainer
Breathable Mesh Upper
Velcro Strap For Fit
Pivot Design Outsole
This cross trainer provides joint stability and a secure fit throughout the entire foot. It is a very fashion forward looking trainer that was created specifically for dance aerobics or activities, so it can take multiple uses and high intensity training while still providing support and security. Ryka designs footwear specifically for the shape and structure of a woman’s feet, and these are made for the active woman.Read more
You won’t have to worry about your joints or your traction when executing those pivots while dancing. The rubber outsole on the Tenacity is designed with pivoting in mind so you can move easily from one spot to the next. The Tenacity also features Flex-Foil and Direct-Fuse materials that provide stability to the foot. A Velcro strap over the midfoot also provides a secure fit.
For the value, you get a very supportive and secure design that will serve you well in the gym without having to worry about your joints. The rubber outsole is also designed for those moves in your dance, aerobics, Tae Bo, Zumba or other quick paced classes.
9. Easy Spirit Romy
Genuine Leather Upper
Removable Sock Liner
Cushioned and Shock-Absorbing
For Walking and Light Running
Poor Arch Support
Easy Spirit is a company created by women for women, and their main goal is to make life easier by designing footwear that helps you feel lighter and carefree. The Romy is one of their bestsellers, a walking sneaker designed for all of your most casual outings. A true athletic trainer, the Romy is lightweight, orthotic-friendly, and has exceptional shock-absorbing abilities.Read more
The upper of the Romy is made from leather, making it amazingly durable and comfortable. It is easy to put on and easy to take off, and thanks to its removable sock liner, you will be able to insert your own orthotics should you choose to do so. The footbed of the Romy is cushioned and impact-absorbing for a smooth, pain-free ride.
The Easy Spirit Romy is here to meet all of your needs, whether it be walking, light running, or just having a casual day out with your friends and family. You will feel light on your feet and will be able to get through your day without worry about possibly twisting your joints or suffering a similar injury.
10. Under Armour Valsetz RTS
ClutchFit around the Joints
Second Skin Fit
UA Micro G Foam Midsole
Not Many Color Options
This pair of military/tactical-style boots provides awesome stability through the cushioning system. Additionally, the feel of the UA ClutchFit design around your joints is not only supportive but highly comfortable, as well. Next, these boots are water-resistant to help provide a more tolerable weather environment while you enjoy your favorite activity. Overall, they are a great addition to your footwear collection.Read more
In reference to the way these boots feel around your joints, the UA ClutchFit design is more like a tougher second skin. In other words, your ankles will have the stability they need. This type of setup is ideal for preventing rolling of the joints. The full-length UA Micro G foam keeps your joints in place by supporting your feet. Less impact and more spring can help take impact load off of your joints.
The UA Valsetz is not your average design, or at least not one meant for everyday wear. However, if you require a tough, no-nonsense boot like this one, then there is no better option than the Valsetz RTS for both your feet and your joints.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Many factors go into deciding the comfort levels of a design (such as the material quality, the fit, the adjustability, breathability, etc), but none more so than cushioning.
Cushioning comes in many varieties. There are designs without any cushioning, all the way up to those with a lot of it.
Some people need stiffer cushioning, whereas others might be in need of softer cushioning. Arches, the weight of the person, and pronation types play a huge role in this, as well as the type of activity you're engaging in. In other words, arches and pronation types are not going to matter much if you choose to play basketball in a pair of high heels.
If you're looking for additional comfort features, make sure to pay attention to the footbed, as a molded or contoured footbed provides good arch support, which you need to stave off foot fatigue. Furthermore, a removable insole may also help, as it allows you to increase the space inside your design, should you need it.
Finally, to make sure that you are choosing the most comfortable option for yourself, pay attention to the materials of a design. If they are natural, such as genuine leather and suede, then these materials will change shape over time and mold to the forms of your foot, providing you with a tailored type of comfort. Similar is true with lightweight materials, such as mesh and canvas, which are breathable and provide a sock-like fit.
However, keep in mind that synthetics, like faux leather, are not as malleable, and thus may not be as comfortable.
Midsoles: Midsoles play an important role in ankle health. In addition to providing comfort, a midsole creates a more stable environment and is responsible for decreasing load rates in conjunction with returning stored energy. By releasing the stored energy gained from your foot placement upon a surface, the best footwear will put a ‘spring’ into your toe-off. This quality helps to minimize impact force, thereby, increasing the chances you will avoid an injury.
Tongue: The tongue should fit snug and provide additional lockdown while remaining comfortable. Sometimes, tongues tend to slip to the side, reducing the support they provide. Depending on the situation, anytime foot support is lowered, the risk of injury potentially rises. So, it is paramount to check the tongue for fit and increased snug-effect. The ‘bootie’ design has one of the better tongues out there.
Shank Plate: Without a shank plate, your footwear would more-or-less fold in on itself. The shank plate is made from many different materials. One of the most expensive parts of a design, the cost can drastically increase when a high-grade shank plate is present. It lies between the outsole and the insole and is responsible for stability and durability. If you can bend your shoes at the midfoot, they either have a really bad shank plate or there is none present (think house slippers).
Heel Counter: The heel counter can either add balance or take it away, depending on its design. In high-quality basketball sneakers, the heel counter creates a more snug environment around the heel, thereby, initiating greater stability. The same is true for everyday footwear as well. If you want stability and to avoid rolling your ankle, then definitely aim for footwear which has a solid heel counter.
When looking for the perfect fit, there are a few things you want to remember:
- Your shoes need to fit a half-inch from the toe box to the tip of your longest toe.
- Your feet are largest at the end of your day. As such, footwear should be fitted and your feet measured in the evening.
- Next, footwear should be snug; not overly tight or too roomy.
- Lastly, ensure the tongue does more than separate your foot from laces. The tongue should be thick and provide a ‘snug’ sensation.
As previously mentioned, comfort is only part of a solution, but it is a big part. We are all made different in one form or another, and our feet are not dissimilar in this regard. Always choose footwear which is a better fit for you and not for someone else. When wearing your shoes, you should experience a comfortable, regular day.
In short, if you experience increased discomfort when trying on new footwear, then it is not the right one for you. Any slight discomfort or tightness that you might feel during this process will most likely turn into a real nightmare when it comes to long-term wear.
We already touched upon some stability features, such as a solid footbed and a shank plate inside a design. In the next section, Style, we discuss the pros and cons of a high top vs. a low top design, but here, we will take a moment to explain about footwear stability and why that is important in preventing injuries of this type.
Whether you are wearing a high top or a low top design, one that is comfortable or not, or one that has a snug tongue or a foamy midsole, means very little if you are someone who is prone to twisting their leg as they walk. What helps in avoiding these incidents is a design which puts emphasis on stability.
Stability is required to keep your weight evenly distributed throughout the design and to make sure that you don't slip or skid at any given moment. Therefore, look for options which make you feel secure on your feet. Look for solid footbeds that aren't too soft or too padded - excess padding can easily lead to toppling over - and also for extra lockdown features, such as velcro straps, adjustable laces, or even velcro straps and laces.
For your convenience, we tanked the items on our list according to their stability characteristics. Some are better at making you feel more secure on your feet than others, and if this is what you're looking for the most, definitely sort the products by this criterion. Good luck!
In an article written by the Bone, Muscle, and Joint Team of Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Miniaci-Coxhead is stated as saying that she believes high tops could very well be good for those recovering from an already existing sprain and help those pre-disposed to ankle sprains. Furthermore, she states studies have shown that high tops decrease the likelihood of minimal inversion; but in excessive inversion, there is no real difference between high tops and low tops.
In other words, in minimal inversion situations, high tops can be used to minimize the chance of injury and can work as an assistive device to those already suffering from a sprain. Additionally, high tops are a good choice for those prone to injuries.
But there is another side to the same coin, as it were.
According to the Bone, Muscle and Joint Team of Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Miniaci-Coxhead also states that the best way to with ankle health is to strengthen their muscles in the long-term. The muscles (evertors) associated with preventing inversion injury can react later than normal when wearing high tops. This, in essence, can cause your ankles to become weaker. At the end of the day, low tops would be better-suited for strengthening over the long-term.
- High tops are best suited for those prone to ankle-related injuries and who are already suffering from a sprain.
- Low Tops are best suited to help strengthen the muscles associated with inversion prevention.
So next time you go shopping for footwear, keep these things in mind! If you are already suffering from an injury, opt for a high top to speed up the recovery. But if you feel like you need to work on your muscles to prevent injuries in the future, definitely go for a low top!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There are a number of reasons as to why your ankle may need extra support or stability from your footwear, sometimes due to injury, or sometimes due to lack of muscle development in stabilizing muscle groups around the ankle.
Whatever the case, having footwear that can help you feel more confident to walk, run, or train those muscles to better support you and stabilize you, are key to recovery, and a better you!
Most times, high top shoes will help stabilize the ankle and foot just due to the structure of the shoe, allowing you to lace up or strap in to the support level you need.
Some mid height sneakers or shoes can also help stabilize the ankle however, so long as the laces or closure straps your heel and forefoot inside snuggly. Look for hook and loop closures, similar to those found on weightlifting shoes, in addition to lace up closures.
Other Factors to Consider
In general, on the topic of underpronators and overpronators, orthotics provide support in the form of counter-balancing while, simultaneously, allowing an environment conducive to natural gait. In essence, orthotics relieve pressure and pain by changing the distribution of impact force to a more natural state.
For example, an underpronator (supinator) has a tendency to roll their foot outward when walking. As such, their feet do not provide adequate support in the realm of shock absorption. For supination, an orthotic will have an instep shape which is flatter and helps to counter-balance the tendency to roll outward.
As such, underpronators will feel less pain and discomfort when using an orthotic designed for them. In conclusion, underpronators in this scenario will have a decrease in a potential injury and/or pain.
Footwear which allows an orthotic placement inside is a better fit for those in need of orthotic support. These types of designs are, generally, equipped with a removable insole. Additionally, there is footwear which caters to a specific pronation type (i.e. neutral, underpronator, and overpronator). When we pay attention to these sorts of details, it is much easier to pick the best design for ourselves.
The reality, unfortunately, is that we may never be able to avoid twisting and/or rolling an ankle, but we can help to decrease the chances of potential injury. Through the right choice in footwear, we can become more pro-active in protecting our feet.
The right footwear can even help strengthen our ankles for the long-term and help us become stronger and more agile than ever. For those of us who might be unable to strengthen our muscles, however, there are still choices in footwear which can give us the hope we need in finding food support.
There are many variables to consider when examining the potential of these injuries, such as pre-existing conditions some of us must deal with on a daily basis. Furthermore, with the plethora of information about the subject matter, it can become a nightmare to try and sort through it all. This is why we have taken a moment to explain as much as we could in the Criteria section, as well as the following FAQ section. Take your time in browsing through these, and we wish you all the best in choosing the right pair of shoes for yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are the best models for this medial issue?
First, the best options are going to maximize comfort and stability by reducing impact force related to landing.
Second, there will be strong lateral support, great arch support, and the heel will feel as though it sits in a glove, more or less. The right kind of footwear just might make you want to say, “Ahh, now that is nice,” after you put it on for the first time. There is no discomfort when wearing it, and it reduces the overall stress in your ankles while you pursue your favorite activity.
Furthermore, the best shoes for ankle support should help reduce the risk associated with minor inversion and/or work as a tool to better strengthen your ankles in the long-term. Next, great ankle supporting shoes have a high-quality component list working as one unit; that is, the entire shoe is designed to not only help prevent ankle-related injury but to, also, encourage foot and ankle health.
Lastly, the best shoes for ankle support will make multi-directional quick-movements much easier to handle in transition. This, in essence, will allow greater mobility and decrease the chance of an ankle-related injury.
q: What should I look for in cushioning?
Cushioning should do the following:
- Reduce the load rate of impact force in your joints.
- Help to return to mid-stance from heel strike; or at least, keep it a fluid motion.
- Reduce discomfort in your feet while engaging in your activity; that is, there should be no pain involved as a result of the shoes themselves.
- Provide adequate support.
- Promote your natural gait by supporting your pronation type.
q: I have arthritis in my ankles. What are the best designs for me?
For someone suffering from arthritis in their joints, they should always seek out their doctor’s advice, first and foremost. There are different types of arthritis. With each type, there are separate needs which need to be addressed.
With that being said, you might mention to your doctor that you are interested in rocker-sole footwear. Shaped in a curve (akin to a boat), these help assist in the walking motion. By decreasing the load rate and enabling the ability for normal gait, they are believed to aid in lowering pain levels. Finally, footwear with low heels and extra depth is, also, recommended. But as previously mentioned, you should always seek out your doctor’s advice when evaluating the best footwear choice in this case.
q: Are there any lifestyle tips for avoiding injury?
First, always choose the right kind of footwear for you. This means you should choose it based on your needs. The choice should involve footwear that fits well, remains comfortable, and is the correct option for the activity.
Second, eating healthy means your muscles are eating healthy, as well. It is easier to strengthen a healthy muscle than one which isn’t.
Thirdly, stretch out and do warmups; especially before vigorous workouts. It is also a great idea to stretch your muscles each and every day, regardless of an upcoming vigorous workout. In this, your muscles will remain much more limber and less prone to injury. Finally, when you become tired or feel fatigue setting in, take a break from your activity. It is also recommended to not start your activity if you are already in a fatigued state. This will help to reduce the chance of an injury.
q: How can I distinguish between a minor or serious joint injury?
To begin with, ankle sprains are common and are the result of stretching and/or tearing ligaments. It is estimated that nearly 25,00 people have a sprain each day. Swelling, bruising, and pain are usually the norm in even the most minor of cases.
As with any injury, it is recommended to make an appointment and visit your doctor to gain a better assessment. If, however, you hear popping in the joint, there is severity in pain, an open wound, a deformity and/or you are unable to put any weight on the foot-in-question, it is highly advised you seek out medical attention immediately.
There are three phases (grades) of a sprain:
- Phase 1 (Mild) – Slight ligament stretching; tearing is at a microscopic level; pain and swelling are mild.
- Phase 2 (Moderate) – There are moderate pain and swelling of the joint, as a result of partial ligament tearing.
- Phase 3 (Severe) – This involves complete ligament tearing and could, also, indicate a dislocated joint.
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