Muay Thai translates to ‘Thai Boxing,’ Thailand’s national sport. The sport is not limited to Thailand, however, and has become popular around the entire world.
It is one of the martial arts, and it has a long history that dates back to the thirteenth century.
At that time, it was used by military members of the Sukhothai Kingdom, but now it is a sport that tests fitness, endurance, and skill.
It is unusual as a combat sport because it uses eight contact points: knees, kicks, elbows, and punches.
By comparison, boxing only has two points of contact (fists), and karate has four points of contact (fists and feet). For this reason, Muay Thai is sometimes referred to as the ‘art of eight limbs.’
A bit more about Ankle Supports
When you see Muay Thai fighters adorned with colorful straps around their ankles, those straps serve a much more critical role than aesthetics.
The most important benefit of wearing these ankle supports is that they help prevent ankle injuries. It’s widespread for a fighter to roll or sprain an ankle during the heat of competition.
They also provide solid support for the ankles during combat and keep the feet stable for kicks. Some ankle supports are more extensive and can be pulled over the shins to provide additional protection.
In any case, ankle supports are much more than window-dressing; they are an essential component of any fighter’s protective equipment.
Different Types of Ankle Supports
You might use several types of ankle supports to participate in Muay Thai training or competition.
Here are descriptions of the most popular ones:
Neoprene sleeves – most available brands are good at wicking away moisture and are breathable for greater comfort. They usually have microbial features and are pretty flexible without straining joints.
Ankle guards – these are generally required for professional fighters because they deliver a high level of support and protection. They also provide enhanced circulation, which in turn contributes to better performance.
Athletic tape is like ACE bandages and is often worn beneath neoprene sleeves or other ankle guards for increased support and protection. They can also be worn as a standalone device for support and protection.
Elastic ankle wraps – these support devices are designed to compress and stabilize the ankle joint and adhere to the skin quite firmly. They help to keep the ankle flexible without straining and are often used to help recover from injuries.
Best Brands for Ankle Support
Ankle guards used for Muay Thai training sessions and competitions are affordable and easy to purchase.
Almost all of them are very stretchable, and they are offered either as one-size-fits-all or in two different sizes for adults and juveniles.
Top King – this is a famous brand among Muay Thai participants and is offered with tribal patterns. The ankle guard grows more comfortable with usage and delivers the necessary support. Here are some of the best ankle guards on the market today:
Nationman – the blend of cotton, spandex, and elastic makes this a super-flexible ankle guard. It has a one-piece design that eliminates the need for Velcro and delivers excellent compression support.
Yokkao – these are marketed in two sizes for adults and juveniles, and they are soft and snug when worn. Some of the top Muay Thai practitioners today choose these.
Fairtex – these come in a single adult size, but they are incredibly high-quality and are the ankle guard of choice for many professionals.
Twins Special – this is the biggest ankle guard seller on Amazon, but it has also found favor with many veteran practitioners. It’s one of the few ankle guards available in two adult sizes, and they’re so comfortable that they can be worn for long periods.
Pros and Cons of Ankle Support Types
There are two general categories of ankle guards: cloth guards and tape guards. When considering cloth guards, you can count on them being affordable, long-lasting, and highly supportive.
One of the drawbacks to cloth guards is that they can develop mold growth if you don’t conscientiously wash them after usage. Also, some cloth guards are made with cheap materials, providing little to no support for your ankles.
In the case of tape guards, they’re one of the cheapest types of ankle guards you can buy. You also have total control over how tightly they get wrapped around your ankles for support.
The biggest downside to using tape is that it can only be used once – you’ll have to re-wrap before every training session. In addition, you’ll need to learn how to wrap the tape guard so you don’t cover it too loosely or too tight.
Cleaning your Ankle Guards
During many Muay Thai training sessions, your ankle guards will soak up a considerable amount of sweat, which means they must be cleaned regularly.
If you fail to do this, you’ll risk developing mold on the ankle guards, which must be discarded. Including them in your regular laundry is safe, but you should place them in a separate small laundry bag.
This will prevent them from getting all tangled up with other laundry and avoid piling from extending the life of your ankle guards.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Are ankle guards mandatory for training and competition?
A: No, they are not. However, because they provide considerable support and protection against injury, it is highly advisable to wear them.
Q: How long will my ankle guards last?
A: In the case of tape guards, they will only last for a single session. The best guards on the market today will commonly last for years, so you won’t have to buy them frequently.
Q: What are the benefits of wearing ankle guards?
A: The chief benefits of wearing ankle guards are as follows:
- They provide excellent support for your ankles.
- They protect against injury.
- They minimize any cuts or bruises you sustain.
- For those prone to ankle injuries, they can help you recover faster.
- Provide traction against slipping on a competition mat
Q: Which ankle guard is the best?
A: The answer to this depends on what level of Muay Thai you’re involved with and what you need in support and protection.
Most cloth guards on the market are excellent and will deliver what you need. From there, it becomes a matter of personal preference.