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How To: Tape a Sprained Ankle, Closed Basket Style

Learn how to tape a sprained ankle with this step-by-step guide.
Photos by Jennifer Howe / howephoto.us
  • Worried about weak ankles, or need to limp out on a sprained one? This low-bulk bracing is used by sports trainers and wilderness medics to stabilize weak ligaments and discourage further injury.
  • 1) If possible reduce swelling for the first 24 hours using RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression bandages, and Elevation of the limb). Then wrap two 'anchor loops' smoothly but loosely around the forefoot and lower leg using 1 to 1.5-inch cloth adhesive tape.
  • 2) Wrap a 'stirrup' loop from the anchor loop to anchor loop, beginning under the heel.  During all taping, keep the ankle bent forward and the toes pulled up.
  • 3) Then wrap a 'horseshoe' loop around the back of the heel, molding it smoothly until both ends adhere to the forward anchor loop. Wrap your tape snugly, but not tight enough to restrict circulation, or bind the foot uncomfortably when standing.
  • 4) Alternate stirrup and spur/horseshoe tape loops two more times, so there are three of each in a 'weave' overlap. Always pull from the inside to the outside of the foot in to keep tape over the outer ankle snug, but not enough to restrict circulation.
  • 5) Repeat the anchor loops at top and bottom.
  • 6) Then wrap two 'heel locks' around each side of the heel bone. Start by wrapping from above the inner ankle bone, forward over the arch, then down around the heel and back to the same side.
  • 7) The idea is to restrict the heel bone from side to side motion. Video makes this technique clearer. Google 'closed basketweave ankle taping' to watch several variations of heel lock wrapping.
  • 8) Finish by cutting off any excess tape ends outside the anchor strips. Then 'close' any tape gaps in the upper leg and forefoot using separate, overlapping bands of tape wrapped loosely around the whole limb.
  • 9) When finished, the closed basketweave tape job fits well inside socks and shoes, unlike bulky Ace bandages or sport wrap.
  • 10) If the foot is swollen, the tape wrap can substitute as a toeless sock to maintain room in shoes or boots while hiking out.
Worried about weak ankles, or need to limp out on a sprained one? This low-bulk bracing is used by sports trainers and wilderness medics to stabilize weak ligaments and discourage further injury.
Image 1 of 11

Worried about weak ankles, or need to limp out on a sprained one? This low-bulk bracing is used by sports trainers and wilderness medics to stabilize weak ligaments and discourage further injury.

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1

Excellent taping job, with or without pre-wrap. For beginners, also try to minimize folds or areas of tape that aren't smooth - skipping this step can lead to areas of ischemia (poor blood flow) under the tape.
— Wm Fred Baty

Important to test the capillary refill after any sort of bandaging by pressing on the toe/finger nails. If it takes a couple seconds or more for the color to return, it's too tight. Redo. Also want to keep an eye on it from time to time and watch for odd swelling or discoloration above the bandage.
— Rick

When you use the athletic medicine way to care for and support a sprained
ankle you need to remember to use "under wrap" to protect the skin form the tape.
— munchyrue

Shave the sides of leg and use one 2 inch stirrup wrap. Otherwise, it's a waste of tape.
— Booger

Alternatively, a nice lace-up ankle brace would also do the trick. Although, it's always best to follow along with some sort of rehabilitation program, so you can restrengthen your ankle, too. Relying on a brace of taping can result in a chronically weak ankle.

REF: <a href="http://www.sprainedankle.org/">Sprained Ankle Institute</a>
— Brad

Do not wrap anchor tape or subsequent wraps completely around the foot or ankle to prevent circulation injuries due to swelling. Leave an inch or so open all along the top of the foot and shin. An elastic wrap over the tape is a nice
bonus that helps keep the tape in place and the ankle cushioned and provides
mild compression.
— Dave O


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