Should I Wear an Ankle Brace to Bed – Doctor’s Suggestion

Wear an Ankle Brace to Bed?

An ankle brace is generally worn when you have an ankle injury like a sprain, or when you are trying to prevent an ankle injury. This article explores whether wearing an ankle brace while you are in bed is necessary.

This article includes information on different ankle braces, and which braces are most acceptable for wearing to bed.

We spoke to doctors, physical therapists, and professional sports players who experience the most ankle injuries about wearing a brace while you sleep. The experts gave us the following information and tips.

Explained Why Should You Wear Ankle Brace to Bed?

The question of why wear an ankle brace to bed is asked often. When you are lying in bed there is no weight on your ankle so many people assume that wearing a brace while they sleep is not necessary.

The following advice should better explain why wearing a brace to bed can benefit you and help your injury heal faster.

To Limit Ankle Movement

One of the things that an ankle brace does is limit the range of motion you have in your ankle. By limiting your ability to move the ankle the brace allows the ligaments and tendons that are injured to not be over-extended and re-injured.

When you are in bed there is no weight on the ankle but you flex your foot. The motion of flexing the foot can cause more damage to the ankle. Wearing a compression style ankle brace will allow you to sleep comfortably but limit the movements the ankle can make.

When you roll over in bed you can also kick your leg and hit the foot-board, or even kick the wall, or your sleeping partner. When you are wearing a brace then you can roll over without injuring your ankle further.

To Reduce Swelling

One of the biggest things you have to deal with when you have an ankle injury is the ankle and surrounding tissues swelling. The swelling is painful and can become extreme. A compression brace helps to reduce the amount of swelling that occurs in the area so it reduces pain.

The gentle compression of the brace will force the swelling away from the injured area. Our bodies respond to an injury by rushing flood in and swelling around the area. Elevation is the best cure for swelling but when we are sleeping it is impossible to regulate the elevation of our foot because we move during our sleep. A brace helps to reduce swelling and we cannot remove the brace when we move during the night.

To Stop Accidental Damage

When you get up you can do more damage to your ankle. When you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom there is a good chance that you will not take the time to put your ankle brace on before your feet on the floor. You can further injure your foot when you get out of bed.

Tips for Sleeping with Ankle Brace

  • Be sure that you have an ankle brace that fits properly. You should measure your ankle and buy your brace according to that measurement. Many people try to buy their braces according to the size of their feet, but your ankle size and your shoe length are different.

  • Wear a compression style brace for support and maximum comfort.

  • Sleep with the room as cool as you can tolerate so the brace does not make the ankle feel hot and uncomfortable.

  • Try sleeping with the ankle that has the brace on it out from under the covers. This allows the foot the brace is covering to remain cooler and more comfortable.

  • Try putting talcum powder on the foot prior to putting the brace on the foot to reduce skin irritation.

  • Have a pillow near the foot of your bed so you can elevate the injured ankle. The elevation further reduces swelling and can alleviate some of the discomfort you are experiencing during the night.

  • If your ankle brace has adjustable straps you want to make sure that the straps are pulled tight, but you do not want the straps to be pulled so tightly that the brace interferes with your circulation. You should be able to stick one or two fingers down inside the brace after the straps are tightened.

  • During the night you may have to adjust the strap tension the brace has so that you remain comfortable and supported.

  • You can also wear a knee brace while sleeping 

Advantage and Disadvantage of Wear Ankle Brace While Sleeping 

Sleeping with an ankle brace may be inconvenient, but it can also be rewarding. The following is a list of advantages and disadvantages of sleeping while wearing a brace.

Advantages

  • The brace allows the plantar structures, such as the Achilles tendon, to remain elongated and does not allow the contraction of this supportive tissue

  • Reduces the chance of inflammation

  • Relieves the tension that is being placed on the medial calcaneal tubercle

  • The ankle braces allow the injury to the ankle and surrounding tissue to heal more quickly

  • The ankle brace can alleviate pain for some people with conditions like plantar fasciitis. With plantar fasciitis people experience pain when they have no weight on the ankle such as when they are in bed

Disadvantages

  • The braces restrict normal ankle movement and are considered by many people to be uncomfortable or constraining

  • Many people complain that the brace allows their foot and ankle to become too hot and may cause the foot to sweat during the night

  • Patient may lose sleep because of the discomfort of the brace

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Should I wrap a sprained ankle at night?

A. For the majority of ankle injuries you will wear a brace during the daytime when you are up and active, but you will remove the brace when you are sleeping. By removing the brace you allow the skin that is covered to air out. If you have a severely sprained ankle, or if you have plantar fasciitis then your physician will likely encourage you to wear a brace night to limit ankle movement and keep the plantar and posterior structures elongated.

Q. Do ankle braces weaken your ankles?

A. A large number of people believe that you can weaken your ankles by wearing ankle braces for prevention instead of just for rehabilitation. The truth is that wearing an ankle brace provides extra support for the ankle and reduces the possibility that you will strain, sprain, or break your ankle.

The ankle brace is supportive like high top athletic shoes are and will not cause your ankle muscles to become weaker. If you have a tendency to turn your ankle, or to walk on the side of your foot instead of with your foot in a proper position then wear a brace anytime you are being active.

Q. How much time should wear ankle brace after a sprain?

A. The purpose of an ankle brace after an injury like a sprain is to keep the tendons and ankle in the proper position while the injury heals. You need to wear a brace for two to six weeks after a sprain. Sprains can be very minor, and would heal quickly in about 2 weeks, or they can be severe and take six weeks or more to fully heal.

You should follow the advice of your physician and keep your brace on as long as you need to. The brace will also reduce the amount of pain you feel while your ankle is healing.

Conclusion

Ankle braces are worn to help an ankle after it has been turned, strained, sprained, broken, or surgically repaired. You may also wear an ankle brace to prevent these injuries. People who play sports like basketball and volleyball are most likely to receive ankle injuries.

Learning the advantages of wearing an ankle brace can help you to determine whether you might benefit from one. If you have injured your ankle and the swelling or pain from the injury persists for more than 3 days then you are urged to seek medical treatment.

Dr. Donald Hodnett
 

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