Ankle taping offers a range of benefits following an ankle injury. It is often used to provide a combination of compression, support, and stability for the ankle joint, can help reduce swelling after injury, and can aid in preventing reinjury. Ankle taping consist of the application of either rigid sports tape or stretchy kinesio tape.
Rigid sports tape does not stretch and is designed to prevent excessive joint movement in the ankle joint, carrying out the role of the injured ligament/s to provide ankle stability.
Kinesio taping is a stretchy, movable tape that allows motion in the ankle, can be used to control ankle swelling, and increases proprioception, which is the term used to describe the awareness of the position and movement of the ankle in relation to the body.
Currently much research has been carried out the determine the effectiveness of taping, which have provided inconclusive results. An easy and effective way to determine if the application of ankle taping has been effective for an individual is to assess and reassess an individual’s stability and/or proprioception before and after the taping application to see if their performance improves. A simple assessment we use in the clinic is the single leg stance.
The following must be considered to determine when ankle taping should be considered for an individual: goal of the taping application, sport or activity requirements, severity of injury, history of ankle sprains and successful rehabilitation, stage the individual is at in their rehabilitation journey, any allergic reactions to tape, and whether taping is a short- or long-term strategy. Rigid sports tape is generally used initially to immobilise and restrict movement of the ankle to prevent further injury, and is often seen utilised in the sporting environment. Rigid sports tape should only be utilised for a short period of time post-injury as it can have a negative effect on circulation. The elastic properties of kinesio tape, on the other hand, doesn’t usually restrict blood flow and is waterproof, thus application can remain for a longer duration than rigids sports tape.
The application of rigid sports tape and kinesio tape are different. However, both approaches begin with clean dry skin. Application of rigid sports tape for immobilisation immediately after an acute injury consists of the application of a prewrap, or hypoallergenic wrap, and the subsequent ‘mummification’ the ankle using a combination of anchor strips, stirrups and figure-eight applications of tape and not allowing any open areas of skin. Taping for complete ankle immobilisation using rigid sports tape is generally not completed in the clinic. As soon as pain allows, individuals are encouraged to perform active range of motion, thus kinesio tape is utilised in the clinic over rigid sports tape.
Kinesio tape can be used to control swelling and encouraging lymph function when using a similar application to the rigid sports tape as above, however allows the added benefit of allowing some ankle movement. As swelling begins to subside, kinesio taping to utilised to improve stability and/or proprioception of the ankle. This is achieved by applying kinesio tape over the injured ligaments/muscles and surrounding structures.
Please keep in mind there is a fine line between a well-taped ankle, and one that is taped too tight or doesn’t provide adequate support. Please feel free to contact our friendly staff to discuss about which type of ankle taping application is right for you.