Ankle injuries are one of the most common problems gymnasts and other barefoot athletes face. Studies show that ankle and foot problems are especially prone to injury in trampoline athletes.
Athletes in other sports often use ankle support inside their shoes. Semirigid and soft braces are available. Barefoot athletes are more likely to use tape because there is no shoe to hold the brace in place.
However, tape only offers the ankle stability for the first 20 minutes it's in place. It's also expensive when you add up daily wear and replacement for practice and events. So, it's not recommended as the first choice.
A recent study of the best stabilizing support was reported from the Institute of Sports Medicine in Germany. They compared three different ankle support systems to being barefoot and to wearing the support inside a shoe.
An aircast semirigid ankle support was used along with a soft, canvas lace up support, and tape. All three devices were tested inside a standard Nike Cross Training XT shoe and inside the same Nike shoe that had been cut out to simulate being barefoot.
They found the soft brace worked the best for barefoot sports. There are no rigid parts on this brace to cause self-injury to the athlete during performance. And they can be worn in contact sports such as judo or karate. Unlike tape, it's easy too get on and off and it can be adjusted. The ankle is stabilized without losing motion needed for the activity. A shoe is not required to hold it in place.