Prophylactic Ankle Taping
Definition of Prophylactic: Preventative or Protective
This year RHP Physiotherapy is proud to be working with Netball QLD and are providing physiotherapy services for U17, U19, U21 State teams; as well as the Firebirds and Fusion teams. As always, we are committed to seeing our athletes and teams achieve the best result that they can, and that means keeping our players’ bodies moving as well and as pain-free as possible so individually and as a team they can achieve the results they train hard for.
Ankle injuries account for a large proportion of injuries sustained in any sport, but particularly court sports such as Netball and Basketball. Spraining the ligaments on the outside of your ankle is more common (will occur 80% of the time), and can be graded in terms of severity from a grade 1 to a grade 3. Even a simple sprain of the lateral ligaments of your ankle can see you out of competition and training for a minimum of 7-10days, and a severe ankle sprain could potentially result in 6-8 weeks or longer depending on the damage.
In order to protect against this, the recommendation is to apply either preventative ankle taping or wear an ankle brace (or both!) in order to minimise the risk of injury occurring. Studies have reported conflicting evidence about taping and bracing, however they have been shown to reduce the rate of ankle sprains in sports. This may be because it increases your brains’ awareness of what your ankle is doing and the positions it’s in and can therefore turn on the right muscles to protect you, as well as the structural support it provides to the ankle ligaments themselves. There is no evidence that taping or bracing will weaken your ankle over time.
Typically, the way we sprain the ligaments of the ankle is in a turning or landing position when the toes are pointed, and the ankle is rolling inwards. Tape and bracing aims to prevent this motion, thereby giving the ankle protection from a possible sprain. We will go through how to tape to treat, and to protect against a lateral ankle ligament sprain.
What do I need?
There are many different types of tape available to us, however to restrict the movement that may cause a sprain we need a rigid, adhesive tape as pictured – and generally for ankle strapping 38mm is the most appropriate size. For those with tape allergies you can use it in combination with hypoallergenic tape applied underneath the rigid tape, such as Fixomull. You may want to use a spray or adhesive to help the tape to stick.
Ankle Taping Techniques
The skin should be cleaned, with grease and sweat removed, and should be dry prior to taping. Having your leg shaved prior to taping can help avoid irritation and pain with removal. Apply Fixomull or another hypoallergenic tape to the area to be taped prior to applying rigid tape if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to strapping tape.
Step One: Anchors and Stirrups
Start with the anchors which go around your leg approximately 1/3 of the way up your shin. You may want to apply one or two, this is used as the point where you attach the rest of the tape to. This can be applied gently.
Stirrups run from the inside of your ankle from the anchor, underneath your foot, and you apply tension as you bring it up to the anchor on the outside of your ankle. Follow the contours of your ankle, you may need 2-3 strips of tape crossing over ½ the width of the tape with each application. Keep the foot up so that the toes are coming up towards your shin for the duration of the taping.
Step Two: 6’s
If you are prone to getting tape cuts, you may want to put down a small strip of tape across the front of your ankle joint to protect it. To apply the 6’s, start on the inside of the leg on the anchor and bring the tape underneath your foot to the outside of your ankle, then pull it across the front of your shin bone with tension to meet close to where you started from.
Repeat x 2
You can do a reverse 6 in the opposite direction for some added support, starting with the straight tape down the outside portion of your ankle and crossing the ankle joint from the inside heading to the outside of your ankle.
Step Three: Heel Lock/Sling
As shown in the pictures, with this tape you start at the centre or on the shin bone and angle the tape underneath the foot (you will do this in both directions), for the first one go to the outside of your ankle and underneath your heel. Then bring the tape around the heel on the inside of your foot and then cross the Achilles tendon (do not put any pressure on the tape over the Achilles!). Bring the tape to meet the anchor. Repeat to the other side.
Step Four: Lock off
As per the first instuction, put the tape with no pressure circumferntially around the shin to lock off the rest of the tape
You shouldn’t be getting any pins and needles, numbness from the tape – if your toes are turning blue you have it on too tight! If you have any questions or want to learn how to tape your ankles, come and see your Physiotherapist.
Cordova, M. L., Ingersoll, C. D., & Palmieri, R. M. (2002). Efficacy of Prophylactic Ankle Support: An Experimental Perspective. Journal of Athletic Training, 37(4), 446–457.
Doherty C, Delahunt E, Caulfield B, Hertel J, Ryan J, Bleakley C. The incidence and prevalence of ankle sprain injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective epidemiological studies. Sports Med. 2014 Jan;44(1):123-40. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0102-5. Review. PubMed PMID: 24105612