Strapping An Ankle: How Physiotherapists Do It

Your feet and ankles are under weight-bearing pressure each and every day.

When you roll your ankle, you stretch or tear the ligaments around the joint and this can cause the ankle to become unstable.

One way to address instability around the ankle joint is through ankle strapping. Here, we will look at the do’s and don’t of strapping your ankle.

How to Strap an Ankle

Step 1 – Preparation

Preparation is one of the most important steps that is commonly forgotten when strapping an ankle.

Ensure that your skin is clean and dry prior to beginning. If the skin is greasy from moisturiser or sweat the tape will have a hard time sticking to your skin. It is recommended that you wash the area to be strapped with warm soapy water before beginning the strapping process.

Secondly, tape and hair are not friends! Not only does tape not stick well to hair, the tape removal process can be extremely uncomfortable and cause skin irritation. Pre-shaving the area a few days before taping is recommended.

The last and arguably most important step involves under wrapping the ankle with hypoallergenic tape e.g. Fixomull. A layer of Fixomull under the whole area that rigid tape is to be applied can avoid skin reactions to the rigid tape.

If the skin becomes itchy, warm or red, a skin reaction is indicated and the tape should be removed immediately.

Step 2 – Anchor

As pictured, the anchor is one strip of tape, applied two inches above the bones of the ankle. This anchor is used to give the rest of the tape an attachment point.

Step 3 – Stirrups

2-3 stirrups are usually applied when strapping an ankle. As the stirrups are applied, the foot should remain still and the ankle should be held at a 90 degree angle.

The stirrups start on the inside of the ankle from the anchor and wrap underneath the heel and attach to the opposite, outer side of the ankle on the anchor.

These stirrups help to prevent the ankle from rolling inwards. With each stirrup, the tape should overlap the previously applied stirrup by half of its width.

Step 4 – Figure of 6

This is the most difficult step of strapping an ankle.

The figure of six starts on the inside of the ankle in the same position that you started the stirrups. From there, the tape is wrapped under the inside of the ankle and then up and across the front before attaching on the inside.

You can repeat the process 2-3 times depending on the amount of support required. Once again, the tape should overlap by half each time.

Step 5 – Anchors

Lastly, repeat step 2! This will help to hold the strips of tape down and prevent them from coming loose.

Benefits of Ankle Strapping and Taping

Studies have shown that ankle strapping decreases the incidence and severity of ankle sprains.

Strapping provides physical support and increases proprioception, which is the body’s ability to know where it is in space. Overall, proprioception helps to improve the control of the ankle joint.

Ankle strapping can also help increase confidence in those returning to sport following an ankle injury.

Indications for Ankle Taping

It is beneficial to tape an ankle in the following instances:
  • Following an ankle injury where instability is present.
  • To prevent an injury. Ankle strapping is beneficial during sports or activities that place the ankle at risk of injury such as netball or basketball where quick change of direction is required.

Sprained ankle | Stock Images Page | Everypixel

Clinicians at Pillar Health are commonly asked “should I strap my ankle or use an ankle brace?” and that question is commonly followed up with “which one is best?”.

These questions have to be answered taking into account individual circumstances.

Some of these circumstances include: What is the level of sport or activity? Is there a history of ankle sprains? Has there been an allergic reaction to tape in the past? What is the severity of the injury? Where are they at in their rehab journey?

ASO Ankle Braces

When should I avoid it ?

We recommend that you avoid ankle strapping in the following instances:

  • If you have certain injuries such as a fracture of the foot.
  • If you are allergic to strapping tape.
  • If you have problems with circulation.
  • If you have trialled ankle strapping and it has left you in discomfort or has caused numbness, swelling or discoloration.

As your strength, balance and proprioception improves, your Physiotherapist may recommend that you wean off ankle strapping. This recommendation is normally made so that your foot and ankle can function normally and continue to develop in strength.

Make an appointment

If you are experiencing discomfort or instability in your ankle or have sustained a recent injury, be sure to make an appointment with a Physiotherapist at Pillar Health today for assessment, treatment and management advice.

You can do so by phoning 03 8899 6277 or by booking online. Our Physiotherapist at Pillar Health can show you how to strap your ankle and give you the tools so that you can strap your ankle at home in the future.