Muay Thai is a brutal sport, and injuries are common in fights and training. As a kick-heavy sport, Thai boxing puts a lot of stress on the ankles and feet, so fighters must take care of them. One of the ways to do that is by using ankle supports.
Muay Thai fighters use ankle supports to stabilize their joints during fights and training. This minimizes the chance of rolling or spraining an ankle.
There are a few more benefits to using ankle supports, and we will look into them before we offer you a couple of premium ankle guard choices.
Why Do Muay Thai Fighters Wear Ankle Supports?
Ankle supports are not mandatory in Muay Thai. You can train, spar, and fight without ever trying a pair.
But there is little point in not using one of the few pieces of equipment that can prevent some nasty injuries and can make your overall training life a bit easier. Here is why Muay Thai fighters wear ankle supports and why you should too.
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The primary purpose of ankle guards is to provide support for the ankle. In combat sports, footwork and movement are essential. Even experienced fighters can roll an ankle or suffer a sprain through a misstep. The ankle support keeps the joints, ligaments, and muscles compact and reduces the chance of harm due to overextension.
For people with bad ankles, the extra support they feel is important to let them move without worry. Of course, ankle supports cannot prevent all injuries, but they surely help minimize the chances.
When an injury occurs, an ankle guard can aid in recovery. They relieve the load on the stabilizer muscles and provide relief to the injured tissues. Ankle supports also reduce the risk of aggravating the injury if you return to training before it fully recovers (which we know you will).
Improved Blood Flow
The compression of ankle guards improves the blood flow and keeps the muscles in the ankle and foot warm. This isn't an issue in Thailand's notoriously hot and humid conditions. Still, it's a nice benefit in colder places.
A piece of cloth will not protect the foot from the impact of a heavy roundhouse kick in any meaningful way, but it takes away some of the bite on the skin.
Ankle supports help decrease the superficial damage to the foot and leg during fights and when kicking the heavy bag. There are excellent ankle support models with added gel padding if you want real foot protection.
Let's be honest; many people put on ankle supports just because they look cool, making you look and feel like a Muay Thai fighter. Even if they are not mandatory during matches, ankle guards are a part of a fighter's traditional "uniform," and people expect to see them in every Thai fight.
How To Wrap Your Ankles Without Ankle Supports?
The best way to wrap your ankles is by taping them. The same logic that applies to the hands also applies to the ankles. Wrapping them with cotton wraps is a good solution, but using tape is the best solution in both cases. Using tape, especially if it’s applied by a person who knows what he is doing, gives the absolute best support to your joints.
And just like wrapping your hands, there are multiple ways to wrap your ankles. There is no one correct way to do it, and different people like different methods. It is best to try out a few and decide for yourself.
Here is a way that works for world champion kickboxer Gabriel Varga:
There are two types of ankle supports for Muay Thai and fighting.
First are the most popular classic elastic ankle wraps. They are made mainly from cotton mixed with some elastic material.
These are the ankle supports that most Muay Thai fighters use and have been beneficial to them for decades.
The Neoprene ankle supports are a more modern version. They usually have antibacterial and moisture-wicking features and are made from breathable materials. The bottom always has some anti-slipping material.
What makes neoprene supports better for some is that some models offer gel protection on the instep and lower shin to absorb the heavy impact of kicking.
This is a significant improvement in protection over the classic sloth wraps that prevent only bruises.
Yokkao Ankle Guards
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Not much separates ankle guards from major brands like Yokkao, Fairtex, Twins, or Venum. This is a simple enough item that the product si always good when high-quality materials are used.
Having said that, Yokkao outperforms the competition with its unique weave pattern, which provides a little more breathability for the foot.
The construction is thick, and it offers excellent comfort and stability.
The high-quality cotton guarantees you won't have to buy a new pair after a couple of training sessions. The color options are very diverse, with each being vibrant and rich.
But if you choose to go with some of the other brands, you will also be satisfied. After all, ankle supports are relatively cheap, so you can buy them from different brands and choose for yourself which product is the best.
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But what may make you choose the neoprene gel ankle supports instead of the more stylish classic cotton supports is the gel protection. It provides just enough cushioning for the foot and lower shin to allow you to kick with more force and confidence.
Only people who have dug their feet with force into a blocking elbow understand how good this feature is if you are fighting or sparring without full shin guards.
Ankle supports are one of those pieces of equipment you may go without. Still, considering the benefits and the low price, there's no reason not to use them if you are into Muay Thai. Fighters wear them to support their ankles and feet and to prevent injuries.