Learning how to tape an ankle sprain is easier than it looks. All you need are the right instructions to get the job done.
This in turn will reduce your risk of further injury, provide pain relief, and help heal your ankle sprain as fast as possible.
Below is the list of things you’ll find in this guide. Tap on any of these bullets to quickly jump to that section:
8 steps to effectively tape ankle sprains
For proper ankle taping, you’ll need:
- A roll of rigid tape.
- A roll of pre-wrap tape.
- A good pair of scissors.
- Patience and time – don’t do this in a hurry.
The following technique is called “closed basketweave.” It’s easy for beginners and ideal for additional ankle support. It goes like this:
1) Keep your ankle joint at a 90-degree angle with your shin
You’ll have to maintain this posture throughout your whole taping session. Some positional suggestions you might want to consider include:
- Sitting on a chair with your affected lower leg resting over your thigh.
- Sitting with your knees straight in front of you.
- Standing with your injured ankle propped over the edge of a chair or table.
2) Cover your foot and ankle with pre-wrap tape
Pre-wrap tape protects your skin from potential chafing and irritation coming from the rigid tape. It also acts as another layer against sweat and hair, so it lasts longer.
To properly use a pre-wrap tape:
- Apply heel and lace pads. It’ll help lessen ankle friction against your shoe.
- Hold the pre-wrap tape properly, with the roll on the top and its end at the bottom.
- Start wrapping right on the ball of your foot and work your way up to just below your calf muscle.
- Go for 1 to 2 layers of tape to cover your foot and ankle. Avoid any creases or gaps.
3) Apply 2 anchor strips
The anchor strips will serve as your landmark on where you should start and end each tape.
- For the first strip, wrap the rigid tape around your lower leg, right over where you finished the pre-wrap. We’ll refer to this as your ankle anchor.
- You can tear off the tape with your hands or simply cut it with your scissors.
- For the second strip, wrap the tape around the arch of your foot. This serves as your foot anchor.
4) Make a stirrup strip
For this technique, stirrups will give you extra support to help limit turning your foot inwards. This is to prevent inversion, the most common position that causes an ankle sprain. (1)
To do it:
- Start on the inner side of your ankle anchor, in line with your bony ankle prominence.
- From there, pull the tape underneath your foot, ending on the outer side of that same anchor.
- You should feel the tape slightly trying to pull your foot outwards.
5) Do a horseshoe strip
This type of taping strip gives additional support in restricting rotational ankle motions.
- Start on the inner side of your foot anchor.
- Pull the tape across your Achilles tendon.
- Once you cross the other side of your ankle, end the tape on the outer side of that same anchor.
6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you cover most of your foot
Avoid any creases on your tape, and:
- For the stirrup strip, each succeeding tape should be in front of the previous application, covering half of it.
- For the horseshoe strip, each succeding tape goes upwards, covering half of the previous one.
7) Make 2 figure-of-8 strips
Applying a figure-of-8 pattern improves the overall stability provided by the tape. You can also use it to cover the gaps in your previous taping applications.
On a side note, this is the hardest part of the taping process. It may take a while to properly do this pattern.
To do it:
- Start the tape at an angle on the outer side of your ankle anchor.
- Pull the tape diagonally towards the inner side of your foot anchor.
- Pull it further down, under the arch.
- Once the tape is on your outer foot anchor, pull it diagonally up to your inner ankle anchor.
- Then pull it around it, to end on your outer ankle anchor.
- For the second strip, do all the previous steps but in reverse. This means you’ll start at your inner ankle anchor and go from there.
8) End with 2 anchor strips
Make another ankle and foot anchor strip to finish up the whole taping process. This will keep the previous strips in place.
Note: You can also achieve similar support with other materials, like kinesiotape or an elastic bandage. Here’s our guide with other ways to wrap a sprained ankle.
6 Tips to safely tape an ankle injury
Taping is pretty straightforward. But take these tips into account to make it easier for you:
1) Gather all your materials beforehand
Prepare all your stuff and place them within your reach. This will avoid changes in ankle position that could lead to tape creases and re-applications.
2) Use an adhesive spray before applying pre-wrap
This is not always a necessary tool to have. But it will make the tape easier to stick, especially for those with hairy, oily, or sweaty ankles.
3) Choose a comfortable position
Since you are a beginner, it might take a while to finish the whole taping process. Make sure that you are in a comfortable position to avoid tape creases and numb legs.
4) The tape should feel snug, not tight
See the color of your toenails? It should still appear pinkish even after the whole taping process is done.
You know your tape is too tight if your toes are starting to turn blue or feel numb. Unfortunately, this means you have to re-do the whole thing again.
Please do not keep an ankle tape that’s too tight. It can ultimately worsen your sprain symptoms.
5) If available, use taping scissors.
These are sometimes called athletic or Kinesio tape scissors. Nonetheless, a taping scissor has a unique angled design. This makes it easier to cut through the tape once you plan to remove it from your foot and ankle.
6) Ask a friend or family member to assist you.
Admittedly, it’s tough to tape your ankle. This is especially true if you have a poor range of motion or a bad back, for example.
Having a friend or family to help with taping your ankle makes the whole process easier for everyone.
Does taping help sprained ankle?
Is it OK to walk on a sprained ankle?
Yes, as long as your symptoms do not flare up. If you are having a hard time, you might want to try using a tape or an ankle brace to add more stability.
Learn more: Should you walk on a sprained ankle?
How to remove athletic tape?
You can use regular scissors if taping scissors are not available. Use it along with your hands to slowly cut through and rip off the tape.
Conclusion: What you’ll need to tape an ankle
A rigid and pre-wrap tape, as well as a good pair of scissors, are all that you need to tape an ankle. An easy-to-follow guide wouldn’t be that bad either.
If you are still having a tough time taping, ask for professional medical advice from a physical therapist or athletic trainer. They’re veterans when it comes to taping an ankle.
They might also suggest using ankle braces for the meantime, right until you get the hang of taping.
- Melanson SW, Shuman VL. Acute Ankle Sprain. [Updated 2022 May 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459212/
- Wilkerson, Gary B. “Biomechanical and Neuromuscular Effects of Ankle Taping and Bracing.” Journal of athletic training vol. 37,4 (2002): 436-445. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164375/
- Hertel, Jay, and Revay O Corbett. “An Updated Model of Chronic Ankle Instability.” Journal of athletic training vol. 54,6 (2019): 572-588. DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-344-18