Introduction: How to Tape an Ankle
Ankle injuries are very common in the everyday life. They can affect anyone who is an athlete or even someone who is simply walking around. One bad tweek and you can begin to feel a lot of pain and discomfort, and most people find it uncomfortable to move and walk on. Taping an ankle is a great way to provide stability so the the stressed ligaments can heal. Especially if you are planning on engaging in physical activity, it is very helpful to provide some extra support to prevent another sprain or to provide protection to a current sprain. Taping an ankle takes a few basic steps with no need of a medical degree or background. However, practice does make perfect and the more times the process is completed the easier it will be.
The first step to taping an ankle will be to gather the materials. The materials needed are:
1 ½ inch athletic tape
two pads to prevent blistering
All of these items can be easily purchased at a local convenience store like CVS, Walgreen's, or Rite Aid. The athletic tape can be of any brand, but from experience you would want a tape that is easy to tear to make the process easier. One brand that I found to work well is Johnson & Johnson athletic tape. It is fairly cheap and fairly easy to tear. Also make sure there are two anti blister pads per ankle. When preparing them make sure to add some petroleum jelly to the center of each pad for lubricant and to help it stay on the ankle. The prewrap can be of any color and any brand that you would like, most prewrap is basically the same. Adhesive spray is used to help secure the prewrap to make sure that it does not move or rip while taping. Tape scissors would be ideal for the process of removing the tape after it is complete, however regular scissors will work as well. Once all the materials are gathered make sure that the person is sitting with their leg elevated and straight out on the table so their foot is at your waist or slightly higher Also, make sure the foot is ⅓ off the table. This will make the foot and ankle easy to access so you are ready to start taping.
The second step to taping an ankle begins with the adhesive spray. It should be applied in accordance to the instructions listed on the bottle and should only be applied as far as the prewrap is going to be placed.
*This step is optional*
Once the self adhesive has been successfully put on the skin you can begin to set up your pads to prevent blistering. Start by adding a small dab of petroleum jelly to the middle of both blistering pads. Once finished, take one of the two pads and place the first pad on the front on the ankle. Then take the second pad and place it on the back of the ankle. These pads are used in order to prevent blistering and to make it more comfortable for the patient (or other individual).
*The attached video covers Steps 3-6*
Once the pads are placed on the correct sides you will then want to begin applying the prewrap. Begin at the arch of the foot and work your up to the start of the calf muscle. Since prewrap is thin you can go around the ankle once or twice, but make sure that you give yourself a smooth surface to tape. Wrinkles in the prewrap can be uncomfortable to the individual and could result in having to start the process over.
After your prewrap has been placed and is free of wrinkles, have your tape ready. You will apply one anchor strip around the arch of the foot. Next, you will apply 2 anchor strips near the top of the ankle on the prewarp. Make sure to leave about an inch of space from your anchor strip and the top of the prewrap. After making the first anchor strip the following 1 strip should be slightly overlapping.
The next step is to apply the stirrups. Start at the inside of the ankle at the top of the anchor strip. Bring the tape down and under the heel and attach it to the other side of the anchor strip. Complete this one more time to have a total of two stirrups.
Cover the rest of the area with prewrap exposed. This will apply support. These strips should be applied all the way down just like the anchor strips were applied.
Next, apply tape around the heel in order to create a “heel lock” which provides maximum support and helps secure the rest of the taping. To start a heel lock place the tape on the inner side of the top of the ankle and bring the tape diagonally across the top of the foot. Then bring the tape under the heel of the foot and back around. Use the first diagonal strip and follow it back around. Bring the tape under the heel again, back up and wrap it around the top of the ankle. After this step you can rip the tape. Make sure to do two “heel locks”.
Begin by creating a figure 8, making sure to start on the the inside of the ankle and wrap the tape around. Bring the tape under the heel, then back up and wrap it around. Complete this step as many times as needed until the heel is covered.
The next step is to close up any remaining areas of tape, making sure everything is free of wrinkles and the individual is comfortable.
Once this is done you are finished. You may use scissors to loosen the tape to make sure the athlete/patient is comfortable, but remind them that the taping should start off slightly tight (not cutting off circulation) because as they move and engage in physical activity the tape will naturally loosen up.