Ankle Sprain Taping

The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before beginning rehabilitation. This 4 stage ankle taping covers a figure of 8 ankle taping, stirrup strapping, heel lock and basketweave ankle taping. Each stage offers progressively more support or can be done on its own.

Part 1 Ankle Taping Figure of 8

Figure of 8 ankle tapingThe figure of 8 strapping is the first and probably least supportive stage of ankle strapping. It aims to protect either the lateral ligaments on the outside or the deltoid ligaments on the inside of the ankle.

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It is important that the patient holds their foot in a slightly dorsi flexed position. If the ankle is relaxed then by the time the strapping is applied it will be far too loose and not provide sufficient support.

The tape will slacken off a bit once the patient starts to move around so it is important it is applied with sufficient tension in the first place. Likewise putting it on too tight will mean the patient will be unable to wear the it.

Underwrap can be used if the patient is particularly hairy. It is rolled around the ankle starting at the bottom of the foot and working upwards. Elastic adhesive bandage is used to apply a figure of 8 being careful not to apply it too tightly. This is then repeated trying not to leave any gaps in the tape at all so the foot and ankle is completely covered.

This is the first stage in the ankle taping technique and can be used on its own for applying compression immediately after an ankle sprain, or to provide mild support to the joint. Or it can be combined with any of the other stages to form a stronger ankle taping to support the joint during exercise.

If it is used to supply compression to a recently injured ankle then it is important not to leave the compression on for more than 10 minutes at a time or blood flow to the foot may be restricted causing further injury.

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Part 2 - Stirrups

Stirrup straps for ankle tapingAn ankle strapping can have different stages or levels of support. Stage 1 demonstrated a figure of 8 technique which can be used on its own or applied before applying stage 2 stirrups.

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The principles of taping remain the same with an anchor point to attach the support strips to and thinking about which structures need to be protected or supported. One anchor strip is applied around the ankle with no tension applied to the tape to avoid restricting blood flow.

A supporting stirrup strap is applied from the inside of the ankle, under the heel with no tension up to this point. As the tape is passed up the outside of the ankle tension is applied to the tape with the foot in slight dorsi flexion and secured to the anchor strap. With the patient trying to keep their foot in the dorsi flexed position a second strap is applied in the same way slightly ahead of the first strap followed by another slightly behind. Finally before any tension is lost an anchor strap is applied over the top of the first anchor strap to secure the taping.

The stirrups provide lateral or sideways support for the ankle preventing what is called talar tilt or in other words preventing the ankle from turning or moving sideways yet still allowing up and down movement or plantar flexion and dorsi flexion of the ankle. This can be done on its own or in combination with any of the other ankle taping stages.

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Part 3 - Heel lock

Heel lockThe third stage of ankle strapping follows a figure of 8 first stage which is the least supportive followed by stirrup straps which protect the lateral ligaments. Any of these taping techniques can be used on their own as required of all together for maximum support.

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The next stage is a full heel lock and its purpose is to lock the heel so it is a lot tighter than the figure of 8 and stirrups. It will support the lateral ligament complex and the deltoid ligament complex on the inside of the ankle.

The foot starts in a dorsi flexed position. With a roll of 2.5cm or 1 inch non stretch zinc oxide tape starting on the outside of the ankle come across the front of the ankle and just above the bony part on the inside of ankle and back towards the heel.

Then come around and under the heel back the way you have just come and around the front of the ankle with the tape almost parallel to the first strip. The tape then passes above the bony part of the ankle on the outside and diagonally towards the heel, across to the inside of the ankle then around the top to finish. It is much easier to watch the video rather than read how to do it!

This locks the heel in place and is a lot more supportive than just the stirrup taping alone as described in stage 2. It can be done on its own or with just the figure of eight taping or in combination with all stages building up the most support for the ankle.

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Part 4 - Basketweave ankle strapping

Basketweave tapingThis stage stage 4 of the ankle strapping technique called a basketweave technique. It is the most supportive of all of the ankle strapping techniques. It supports the lateral ligament complex on the outside and the deltoid ligament complex on the inside.

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For maximum support we would already have done a figure of 8, followed by stirrups, then heel lock. A roll of 3.8cm or 1.5 inch non stretch zinc oxide tape is used although the smaller 1 inch tape can be used depending on the side of the limb to be taped.

One anchor strip is applied around the ankle without any tension so as not to restrict blood flow and another around the forefoot, again avoiding any tension. Spreading the metatarsals when this is done can help avoid the tape being too tight when the patient stands up.

A stirrup is then applied down the inside, under the heel and up the outside. Another is then placed from the inside of the instep, around the back of the heel to fix at the front anchor on the outside of the foot so it is at right angles to the first stirrup strip of tape.

The patient aims to keep their foot in a dorsi flexed position while the above process is repeated slightly overlapping the tape each time until the foot is covered. Try to avoid any creases as this can cause blisters. Finally two anchors are applied again around the ankle and forefoot the same as the ones at the start to secure the taping.

Basketweave ankle taping is the most supportive taping technique and the final stage or our ankle taping tutorials. It can be done on its own or with the strapping techniques above.

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