Outdoor First Aid

How To: Tape a Sprained Ankle, Closed Basket Style

Learn how to tape a sprained ankle with this step-by-step guide.


tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

5) Repeat the anchor loops at top and bottom.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

tape a sprained ankle

9) When finished, the closed basketweave tape job fits well inside socks and shoes, unlike bulky Ace bandages or sport wrap.

tape a sprained ankle

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.

Photos by Jennifer Howe / howephoto.us

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