How To Wrap A Sprained Ankle | Beginner’s Guide

Written by on May 6, 2022 — Medically reviewed by Mich Torres (PT)

If you want to prevent ongoing ankle problems, then you should learn a thing or two on how to wrap a sprained ankle.

See, treating a sprained ankle with a bandage or tape helps reduce pain, swelling, and future sprains. (1)

There are three different types of materials you can use – elastic bandages, athletic tape, and kinesiotape. Each one has different purposes and application techniques, we’ll cover all of them.

Here’s what you’ll learn – tap on any of the topics below to go straight to that section:

How to an elastic bandage for a sprained ankle

A compression wrap is a simple mechanism to apply sustained yet gentle pressure around the ankle. This in turn helps reduce swelling, bruising, and further injury. (2)

Use it to do the RICE protocol like your physio would in the clinic. To wrap your ankle with a compression wrap at home, you’ll need:

  • One 4-inch elastic bandage.
  • One velcro strap or safety clip fastener (most compression wraps have it).
  • Two chairs – one for you to sit and another to put your foot on.


Start by placing your foot on the chair in front of you, with your ankle joint in a 90-degree position. Then:

  1. Circle the bandage around the ball of your foot, near where your toes meet, towards your arch. Do this twice, overlapping half the previous layer.
  2. Pull the bandage diagonally across the top of your foot and bring it around your Achilles tendon.
  3. Then, pull it toward the arch of your foot to the ball of your foot.
  4. Steps 3 and 4 produce a figure-eight pattern. Repeat them, overlapping half of the previous layer without any crease until you cover the entire foot.
  5. Finally, secure the end of the bandage with your velcro strap or fastener.

The wrap should have a snug fit, but not too much that your toes turn blue due to lack of blood circulation. If this happens, re-do the whole wrap and use a light pull on the bandage.

Related: Best 7 home treatments for ankle sprains

Wrapping an ankle sprain using an athletic tape

An athletic tape is a rigid material. This makes it useful for stabilizing your ankle joint and preventing excess motion, providing a similar effect to ankle braces.

To wrap your sprained ankle with athletic tape, you’ll need:

  • One roll of pre-wrap tape.
  • One roll of athletic tape.
  • A pair of scissors.
  • Two chairs – one for you to sit and another to put your foot on.


Start by sitting on a chair and placing your injured foot in front of you, at a 90° angle.

Then, wrap it with the pre-wrap tape. Start at the ball of your foot, wrapping your way up to half your shin bone. Overlap half of the previous layer without any crease until you cover the entire area.

Now, the specific technique will depend on your ankle sprain:

For a lateral ankle sprain

  1. Wrap the tape once around your upper ankle bone, covering half pre-wrap, half-skin. This is your anchor.
  2. Now, start with the tape on the inner side of the anchor, down your arch, then up to the outer side of the anchor.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times, overlapping half the previous layer.
  4. Next is a figure-six: Go from the inner anchor, down your arch, pull diagonally across the top of your foot, and back to your inner anchor.
  5. Then, stick the tape to the outer anchor. Pull it across the top of the foot, down the ball of your foot, to the outer side, finishing on the inner anchor.
  6. Finish by repeating step 3 to secure the tape.

Related: 12 Exercises to heal your ankle sprain like a pro.

For an inner ankle sprain

This kind of sprain also puts you at risk for a fracture, so please check with your doctor just to make sure you don’t have one. (3)

If all things are clear, follow the instructions for a lateral ankle sprain but go in the opposite.

For example, if it says to start at your inner anchor, go in the opposite direction and start at your outer anchor.

For a high ankle sprain

A high sprain increases your risk of having an ankle or calf bone fracture. (3) Consult your doctor to get your joint checked first before taping.

Once you’re all good to go, start by:

  1. Following steps 1 and 2 for a lateral ankle sprain.
  2. Make 2 wraps around your calf and shin bone, right where your injury is. The first in a clockwise direction, the second in a counterclockwise manner overlapping half the first.
  3. Stick the tape on the outer anchor, down your foot, and ending at the inner anchor. Repeat twice, covering half the previous strip.
  4. Then, start from the outer anchor, down to your arch, then up your inner ankle, and diagonally over your upper foot. Finish on your outer anchor.
  5. Repeat step 2 to secure each end.

How to use Kinesio tape on a sprained ankle

A kinesiotape is a flexible, adhesive, and water-resistant tape. It can enhance your ankle stability during recovery. (4)

One theory is that this happens because the tape creates a constant pull on your skin. This allows a continuous feedback mechanism on the area of the body it covers. (5)

This constant pulling mechanism may be the reason why the tape is first stretched to a certain extent of tension before applying it to your skin.

To apply it, first you’ll need:

  • One roll of Kinesio tape – any color will do.
  • Rubbing alcohol to remove excess dirt around your skin (it makes the tape less sticky).
  • A pair of scissors.
  • Two chairs – one for you to sit and another to put your foot on.

Pre-taping procedure:

This procedure is the same regardless of your type of ankle sprain.

Start by applying the rubbing alcohol all around the ankle and foot, letting it dry. Then, measure the tape you’ll use in the next steps. To do this:

  1. Place the tape from your inner bone, down your foot, and towards your outer ankle bone. Cut 2 strips with that measure.
  2. Cut only one of those strips in half.

You should end with 1 long strip and 2 half-strips of tape. Round their corners, so the tape won’t easily peel off after application.

Then, sit and place your injured foot on a chair in front of you. Always keep your ankle at a 90° position. This avoids wrinkles and ensures you wrap your ankle properly.

Now, follow the next steps according to the type of injured ankle you have:

For lateral ankle sprains

  1. Take the long strip of tape. Tear off about an inch of its protective cover and apply it to your inner ankle bone, without stretch.
  2. Then, fully stretch the remainder of the tape and pull it under your foot, towards the outer ankle. It should cover the injured spot.
  3. Stick it without stretch on your outer ankle bone.
  4. Take one half-strip, remove an inch off the protective cover and place it over your outer heel.
  5. Stretch it to half its capacity, from the back of your heel to your inner arch, out to the top of your outer ankle.
  6. Take the other half-strip and repeat steps 4 and 5 but in the opposite direction. Start on the inner heel and finish on the inner ankle bone.
  7. Use a small piece of protective covering and rub it around the taping. This helps the tape stick better.

For medial ankle sprains

The steps are mostly the same as the lateral ankle sprain. The only change is the direction in steps 1 to 3 – start on your outer ankle bone and finish on the inner side.

For high ankle sprains

After doing the pre-taping:

  1. Hold one small strip of tape at both ends, tearing off the middle portion of the protective cover.
  2. Stretch the tape fully and wrap it around the injured area.
  3. Repeat the steps above with the other half strip, overlapping half the previous layer.
  4. Take the long strip, tear it off in the middle, and stick it under the arch of the foot.
  5. Pull both sides to half their capacity, and cross them at the front of your ankle – stick the outer end to the inner ankle, and the inner end to the outer ankle.
  6. Rub the taping with a small piece of protective covering.


Is it better to wrap a sprained ankle or not?

It’s better to wrap it, as it may help your ankle sprain heal faster.

How long should I stay off a sprained ankle?

Use how your ankle feels today as a guide. Rest more if it’s still painful or swollen. If it’s not, slowly work your way to putting more weight on it as you can tolerate.

Can walking on a sprained ankle make it worse?

Walking might not be the best for you right now if you have a severe sprain or can’t put weight on your sprained ankle.

Learn more: When should you not walk on a sprained ankle?

Conclusion: How to wrap an ankle sprain

With the right tools and deliberate practice, wrapping a sprained ankle can be easily done. This will make your ankle feel better and promote healing.

It may also come in handy if you already have a history of repeated or severe sprains before!


  1. Kaminski, Thomas W et al. “National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: conservative management and prevention of ankle sprains in athletes.” Journal of athletic training vol. 48,4 (2013): 528-45. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.4.02
  2. Borra, Vere et al. “Compression Wrapping for Acute Closed Extremity Joint Injuries: A Systematic Review.” Journal of athletic training vol. 55,8 (2020): 789-800. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-0093.20
  3. “Ankle sprains.” Merck Manuals. Retrieved from:
  4. Kaminski, Thomas W et al. “Prevention of Lateral Ankle Sprains.” Journal of athletic training vol. 54,6 (2019): 650-661. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-487-17
  5. Mohamed, Mervat, et al. “Effect of Kinesio-taping on ankle joint stability”. International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences, 2016, 5, 5:51-58.

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