The following ankle taping techniques are designed to support the ankle and reduce stress on the ankle during activity. They can be used for both the treatment and prevention of ankle injuries. You should discuss the suitability of these taping techniques with your physiotherapist prior to using them. Generally, they should only be applied provided they are comfortable and do not cause an increase in pain, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness or excessive redness of the foot and ankle.
What sort of tape should be used to tape my ankle?
There are many different tapes and bandages available for use by physiotherapists and patients. However, when the purpose is to restrict undesired motion, only adhesive, non-stretch (rigid) sports tape is appropriate. (For ankle strapping 38mm is usually the most appropriate size). This should always be used in combination with hypoallergenic tape as an underlay, such as Fixomull.
Benefits of Ankle Taping
When used correctly, ankle taping techniques can:
- Aid healing of ankle injuries
- Allow an earlier return to sport or activity following injury
- Reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation
- Prevent ankle injuries (such as sprained ankles) during high risk sports (such as netball, basketball, football, soccer etc.) or activities (such as hiking or walking on uneven surfaces)
Indications for Ankle Taping
It is generally beneficial to tape an ankle in the following instances:
- Following certain ankle injuries – Ankle taping may be beneficial following certain ankle injuries (such as sprains), during activities that aggravate, or are likely to aggravate, the existing condition (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist as certain ankle injuries should not be taped – such as some fractures).
- To prevent injury – Ankle taping may be beneficial during sports or activities that place the ankle at risk of injury (such as netball, basketball, football, soccer etc.)
When should I avoid Ankle Taping?
Ankle taping should be avoided in the following instances:
- If you have certain injuries, such as some fractures (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist)
- If you have a skin allergy to sports tape
- If the taping technique results in an increase in symptoms such as pain, ache, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, swelling or excessive redness of the foot or ankle.
- If you have sensory or circulatory problems
Weaning off ankle tape in general activity is usually recommended as strength, range of movement and balance improves and symptoms reduce. In these instances though, taping during high-risk activity (such as sport) is usually still recommended.
Ankle Taping Techniques
The following taping techniques may be used to provide support for the ankle and are particularly beneficial following a lateral ligament sprain of the ankle, or, to prevent an ankle sprain. Generally it is recommended that the ankle is shaved 12 hours prior to taping (to prevent painful removal of hairs and skin irritation). The skin should be cleaned, removing any grease or sweat, and should be dry. Low irritant Fixomull tape should be applied as an under-wrap to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation with rigid sports tape over the top of this. Some, or all, of these ankle taping techniques may be applied to tape the ankle and provide the support required for the individual.
Place a strip of tape around the lower 1/3 of the shin (figure 1). This should be applied gently to prevent circulatory problems and is used as a fixation point for the other ankle taping techniques.
Keeping the foot and ankle in a neutral position (foot and toes pointing vertically upwards), start the tape at the level of the anchor on the inner aspect of the ankle and lower leg. Begin this taping technique by following the black arrows (figure 2) and conclude this taping technique at the level of the anchor at the outer aspect of the ankle and lower leg by firmly following the white arrows (figure 3). Do 2-3 stirrups just slightly forwards and backwards of each other depending on the amount of support required.
Keeping the foot and ankle in a neutral position, start the tape at the level of the anchor on the inner aspect of the ankle and lower leg. Begin this taping technique by following the black arrows (figure 4) and conclude this taping technique by firmly following the white arrows to the inner aspect of the ankle (figures 4 & 5). Do 1-3 Figure-of-6’s slightly forwards and backwards of each other depending on the amount of support required.
Half Heel Lock
Reverse Half Heel Lock
Basic Ankle Taping Recipe
Comprehensive Ankle Taping Recipe
Removing the tape
Care should be taken when removing the tape to avoid injury aggravation or skin damage. Blunt nosed tape scissors should be used. The tape should be removed slowly, pulling the tape back on itself with pressure placed on the skin as close as possible to the line of attachment of the tape.Generally tape should be removed within 48 hours of tape application or sooner if there is any increase in pain or symptoms (including skin irritation or itchiness).
Ankle Taping Summary
To purchase physiotherapy products to assist with ankle strapping click on one of the links or visit the PhysioAdvisor Shop.
Other Taping Techniques
- Achilles Tendon
- Patella Tendon
- Posterior Ankle Impingement Taping
- Tennis Elbow
Find a Physio
Find a physiotherapist in your local area who can tape an ankle.
Read about Ankle Sprains.
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