Have you sprained your ankle? Here Are Tips on How to Wrap It

Although ankle injuries frequently happen to athletes, people can sprain their ankles whenever they twist or turn their ankles unexpectedly.  These accidents result in stretching or tearing of ligaments that hold the ankle bones together.  

When the ligaments stretch beyond their normal range, it results in an ankle sprain. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, a person might have painful discomfort, swelling, and ankle instability.

Before visiting the doctor, it is wise to practice first-aid by wrapping the ankle well enough to provide support.  

In this article, you will learn how to wrap an ankle.  There are many ways of doing this.

How Common are Ankle Injuries?

In a study by the National Institute of Health, there were 20,261 ankle injuries brought to emergency departments (ED) and 5,546 injuries happening in high schools and colleges in the years 2013-2019.  

The risk of injury is higher in sports like tennis, basketball, and football because they involve side-to-side foot motion.  However, sprained ankles can also happen during daily activities like slipping or wrongly stepping off the road curb.  

Ligaments should be allowed to heal before returning to one’s daily activities.  Otherwise, ligaments may heal in a stretched position, leading to chronic ankle instability (CAI).  With this condition, the person will be at a higher risk of ankle sprains.

Therefore, it is necessary to learn how to wrap ankle, whatever the situation.

What Materials Are Needed to Wrap the Ankle?

To support a sprained article, one needs elastic bandages.  

The most commonly used are ACE-branded bandages.  Another alternative is the Kinesiology tape (KT), a blend of cotton and nylon that provides support without limiting movement.

If there is swelling, the best option is compression bandages.  These bandages apply pressure to a specific area of injury.

However, if there is no access to bandages, a temporary substitute can be a clean, cotton T-shirt. 

What Are the Different Techniques in Wrapping the Ankle?

There are many methods on how to wrap an ankle:

  • High Dye Ankle Taping – for light support when barefoot or wearing tight shoes
  • Basketweave Taping – for maximum comfort using a lot of bandages
  • Adidas Ankle Taping – using three stripes (Adidas) for injuries toward the outside of the ankle
  • The “figure of 8” Taping – used for minor ligament damage, the bandage is taped diagonally finishing with an “8” shape
  • The “figure of 6” Taping – used for chronically unstable ankles using tape stirrups forming a “6” shape
  • Heel Lock Taping – used to compress ligament injuries while providing support and allowing swelling to heal

Ankle wraps are an excellent alternative if one is not familiar with the above wrapping techniques.  While providing the same ankle support and compression treatment, it’s simple design allows for comfortable fitting inside shoes.

For more severe injuries, however, doctors may recommend ankle braces for maximum protection.  The patient, however, must remain immobile while the sprain is healing.

Is There a Way to Avoid Ankle Sprains?

One effective way is by exercising to strengthen the muscles around the ankle.  Stronger muscles will improve one’s balance by stabilizing the ankle.  

Stretching before and after exercising is also advisable.

However, if the injury already happened, follow the RICE approach recommended by doctors:

  • Rest the ankle.  There may be a need to use crutches to avoid putting weight on one’s foot.
  • Ice helps in preventing the ankle from swelling.  Do the ice treatment every 2 to 4 hours for the first three days after injury.
  • Compression also helps in avoiding swelling and bruising.  While using the various tape wrapping techniques, apply compression up to a week after injury.
  • Elevate the ankles above the heart level for around three hours daily to prevent further swelling and bruising.  

Learning to wrap the ankle is an excellent first-aid skill before getting medical treatment.  With proper follow-up care, sprained ligaments will heal faster.

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