Taping an injured ankle will provide compression to the joints and much-needed stability and support. While you can dismiss minor injuries and let them heal naturally, you have to do something if the swelling doesn’t stop. The pain can become excruciating that you might lose sleep over your injury.
Additionally, ankle tape will protect your already injured ankle and prevent another injury from happening. Taping isn’t as easy as buying and wrapping a product on the injured body part.
It cannot be too tight or too loose. How will you do that?
This article will guide you on the proper techniques for taping an ankle injury. If you want to find out more about it, read on.
Gathering the Right Materials
Before you can begin taping, you have to choose what tape to buy. You have two options for an ankle injury – Self Adhesive Athletic Wrap and kinesio tape.
Also known as rigid tape or call-strapping. It doesn’t stretch, and it works by restricting movement. It provides significant support, hence preventing another harm to the injured foot.
While it stabilizes the ankle, it is not recommended to use it for longer than a day. Since it doesn’t allow the ankle to move, it will affect your blood circulation. You can only wear it longer than a day if your doctor tells you to do so.
A moveable and stretchy tape that is worn when you want to provide support for the ankle while it engages in a range of motion. You can wear this tape if you have unstable ankles, you are playing an extreme game, or you’ll be doing physical activity after recuperating from an injury.
You can keep your ankle wrapped in kinesio tape for up to five days since it won’t cause blood flow restriction. The tape is also waterproof, so you can use it while engaging in water activities, bathing, or showering.
Ensure you are using high-quality tapes no matter which of the two is required for your ankle. You can get them online at shops, including Hampton Adams, where you can shop for other tapes and sports medicine.
Accessories for Support
Taping can sometimes cause discomfort or blistering, depending on the injury. You can use support accessories to enhance the tape’s effectiveness in such cases.
Here are some of the accessories typically used to support an athletic tape:
This is a stretchy wrap with a soft texture placed before the tape. You will be able to remove the tape easily when you have the ankle prewrapped. This is also used to protect the athlete’s skin and lower leg hair.
- Base spray for taping
Once sprayed, this results in the tape’s better adherence to your skin, and it also works by reducing friction.
- Lace and heel pads
You can place the pads over the heel or on top of the foot to provide support for the ankle.
Tips for Properly Taping an Ankle Injury
The steps in taping your ankle will depend on the tape you will use. However, in both cases, ensure that your skin is dry and clean. The area where the tape will be placed must also be free from sores and open wounds.
Using an Athletic Tape
You can begin by applying a base spray on the injured area and top of your foot. You can then place a lace wrap at your foot’s front area and a heel pad at the back of your foot.
However, these two initial steps are completely optional. They can provide additional support but are not required.
Here are the steps on how you apply the athletic tape to an injured ankle:
Start placing the pre-wrap on the lower leg, usually on the area where the muscle belly begins to get smaller. Continue wrapping it around along the surface area of the ankle.
- Begin taping the anchors
Begin by stabilizing the ankle by creating an anchor with the tape. Wrap the tape at the lower leg a little bit over the pre-wrap, so some of the tape will touch the skin. Rip the tape once you’re done with the anchor.
The ankle must be at 90 degrees of dorsiflexion. This is the position that the athlete needs to maintain throughout the taping. Add two more anchors below the first one.
Place another anchor on the distal end or lower part of the pre-wrap, around the foot’s middle part. As you go around the pinky toe, slightly push the foot and widen it out to avoid irritating.
- Begin with the stirrups
When the ankle goes inward, meaning the athlete has an inversion ankle sprain, start taping at the ankle’s inner side. Wrap around past the ankle bones up to the other side. Secure the tape on the anchors. Put three stirrup strips with the tape overlapping by half.
- Securing the tape
Place three anchor strips at the top to secure the stirrups while overlapping the tape by half in every application. Be careful to avoid making folds or wrinkles with the tape as you wrap.
- Continue taping down
Continue taping with the tape overlapping by half as you go lower into the foot. When you are already in the ankle area, make horseshoe-shaped strips from the ankle’s back to stabilize it. Once done, you will have a nice base to continue with the rest of the taping process.
- Provide more stability
Start above the ankle bones and angle the tape up towards the knee, crossing over in front of the ankle and coming back up to where the tape started. This is the first figure eight.
- Apply two heel locks
Start where the previous tape ends, cross over until the tape is hugging the heel bone or calcaneus, then cross over to the starting point. Cross over the tape, go back under the foot to create the same angle you did before, then come up. Rip the tape down. Repeat applying a heel lock since you need two.
- Wrap another figure eight
Repeat what you did in step 6.
Once done, check the tape for any windows, meaning wrinkles or holes. You have to fix them before allowing the athlete to continue playing or using their foot with the injured ankle. You can use a small piece of tape to cover or relieve a window.
Using a Kinesio Tape
Unlike athletic taping, kinesio tape won’t cover most parts of the ankle and foot. Here’s how to apply this tape on a foot with an ankle inversion sprain:
- Prepare the tape
You will need four kinesio tapes to deal with the injury – two relatively shorter and two relatively longer strips. The patient’s foot needs to maintain the same position you did in applying an athletic tape, which is 90 degrees of dorsiflexion.
- Use I strip
Peel the ends of the strip and position it above the medial malleolus or the protruding bump on the inner side of the ankle. Pull the tape downward and stretch up to 75 to 100 percent to provide more stability for the ankle. You can stretch it less if the injury is minimal.
Once stretched, bring the tape over the foot’s heel and then upward to cover the tensor fasciae latae or TFL. Gently rub the tape using your hand to make it stick to the skin.
- Place the other I strip
Split the tape and place it on the starting point of the first strip, making the two overlap by one centimeter. Stretch the tape 70 to 100 percent before moving it around the other side until it covers the calcaneofibular ligament. Press it to blend and make it stick.
You can use a small part of the tape’s backing paper to rub the tape into the skin. Rubbing will create heat that will help stabilize the tape.
- Apply the two smaller strips
The smaller strips will provide stability for the ankle. You can choose to use only one if you think it’s enough.
Place the end of the first smaller strip just above the medial malleolus, feed, and lock it. Stretch at around 50 to 70 percent. Pull around to cover the TFL slightly.
Place the second one slightly inferior to the first shorter tape. Feed and lock it. Stretch and move around a bit inferior, overlapping the other end of the first short tape. Rub the tape with a ripped paper backing to make them stick.
Caring for the Ankle After Taping
Remember RICE when you want to treat the injured ankle without taping, or you want to continue the healing process after taping.
- R – Rest
- I – Ice
- C – Compression
- E – Elevation
Resting the foot with the injured ankle is crucial to speed up the healing process. Ice will reduce its swelling, especially when you do it along with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine.
Instead of tape, you can use a Sprained Ankle Elastic Bandage to wrap the ankle to keep it compressed, especially at home. And most importantly, elevate your leg with the injured ankle to minimize the swelling by reducing the blood flow.
Taping is effective in dealing with an ankle injury as long as it’s applied properly. The application depends on the gravity of your ankle, what you’re supposed to do after taping, and what kind of tape you are using.