Whether you’re walking to work, going for a run, or taking a quick lunchtime stroll around the block, your sneaker choices matter. Some athletic shoes are designed to keep knee pain away, while others help mitigate any discomfort in your feet. But if your ankles tend to be a weak point for you (and you’re not alone: ankle sprains are one of the most-common, recurrent lower-body injuries), we asked an orthopedic surgeon to name the best sneakers for ankle support.
If your ankles tend to feel a little wobbly and unstable, you need to look for a few qualities in a shoe, says Korsh Jafarnia, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Methodist Center for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at Houston Methodist. “When looking for running shoes for an unsteady ankle, you need to find a pair that’s stable on the outside, the lateral side. If a shoe is firm laterally, it’s less likely to allow your foot to collapse to the inside and can help prevent lateral ankle sprains,” says Dr. Jafarnia. He adds that arch support is also key for improving ankle stability.
Of course, while supportive kicks are a great start, it’s always important to get a professional opinion to make sure you’re addressing every factor that could be causing ankle pain. “If you have an ankle that is prone to sprains, then you likely have a condition called chronic ankle instability, and it should be treated in a comprehensive manner,” says Dr. Jafarnia. So make sure to book some time with an orthopedist—if you can.
Ahead, Dr. Jafarnia offers his two go-to sneaker recommendations for ankle support. Each shoe features Dr. Jafarnia’s key criteria for sneakers (stable on the outside and impressive arch support), so you can keep those sprains far, far away.
Women’s best sneakers with ankle support
“The Nike React Infinity Run 2 running shoe is designed to control motion, so you can focus on your running and not worry about injury,” says Dr. Jafarnia. “With a wide base and foot-hugging Nike Flyknit material, the shoe offers great stability and keeps your foot locked in place.” A bonus? The shoe also ventilates well for hot and sweaty runs and walks.
Dr. Jafarnia recommends this for runners in particular.
U.S. women’s sizes 6 to 12
Photo: New Balance
Dr. Jafarnia’s pick for a women’s walking shoes features a double layer of sturdy comfortable foam. “For even more support, the shoes also feature a Rollbar stability post system that’s designed to control rear-foot movement, making them a good choice for over-pronators,” he says. In over-pronation, the ankle rolls downward and inward with each step, increasing the risk of injury in the foot and leg.
U.S. women’s sizes 5 to 13
Men’s best sneakers for ankle support
“Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoe is a good pick because it has exceptional cushioning, stability, and support, making it ideal for those with weak or injury-prone ankles,” says Dr. Jafarnia. “The Adrenaline features GuideRails, which limit unwanted movement in your ankles while supporting and aligning the foot.” He especially loves these shoes for runners who need ankle support because the high heel-to-toe drop will relieve some pressure from your heels and calves as the miles roll on.
U.S. men’s sizes 7 to 15
If you’re someone who spends a hefty amount of their walking time on the trails, Dr. Jafarnia has a great rec for you. “Supportive and sturdy, Salomon’s Speedcross 5 trail running shoes provide the protection you need for all types of surfaces and conditions. The shoe’s deep heel cup cradles your heels, ensuring stability through your stride, while the rubber outsole provides dependable grip on uneven surfaces,” he says. They also come in great colorways that you may not find in other trail shoes.
U.S. men’s sizes 7 to 12.5