Ankle Joint Strapping

Whether it is in the mentorship or return to play course, I always get asked the best method for strapping an ankle.

Now I don’t think your ankle tape is the be all and end all but if your athlete is looking for that last bit of confidence and reassurance then it can be a useful practice.

Read on to find out a few techniques that have worked for me over my 13 years in professional sport.

Follow The Contour?

The biggest mistake I see is therapists not following the contour of the upper ankle. If you strap straight across you’ll often end up with a wrinkle in the tape. Angling the tape at the start will produce a smooth wrap. This strap is your anchor.

Ankle contour in sports physio ankle strapping

Avoid The Cuboid

When that anchor is in I start a stirrup in a medial position and tape down under the foot and end on the lateral component of the anchor. Avoid the cuboid when coming through the sole of the foot as it needs to move whilst the athlete is running so too much pressure will aggravate it.

Ankle contour in sports physio ankle strapping

Once that stirrup is in you can go inside this line again twice adding extra support. You’ll end up with three stirrup straps.

Heel Lock

With the heel lock, I start at the top front of the tape and go around the achilles. This is when the angle of your tape is again important to avoid creases.

Avoiding creasing with the heel lock ankle strap

Track around the heel and bring the tape back to the front and finish where you started from. You can then use this method but in the opposing direction. Be aware that some athletes do not like pressure laterally as coming around so you may need to tape light around this area.

Be aware, athletes may not want too much pressure here

Full Boot

Some athletes may want a full boot. Beginning in the same frontal position, avoid the deltoid finishing by strapping further down the foot. Close it off by applying a strip of tape over the anchor.

Full boot sports physio ankle strap

Once this is done you can always cover that up with overwrap, using the exact same method and applying more pressure.

Overwrap full boot ankle strapping

Figure Of Six

With the figure of six you want a real reinforcement of the lateral ankle, stopping the ankle from inverting and limiting the movement of the calcaneus. Start at the lateral aspect of the ankle, come across the medial foot and then underneath the foot finishing where you began.

It all seems very simple. It can be done anywhere, quickly and easily but the assessment truly depends on you, the examiner, being able to decode and make sense of your findings…

Figure of six sports physio ankle strapping

Final Thoughts

Strapping the ankle never needs to be too complicated. If you have done your clinical work correctly then it should just be the last little bit of confidence your athlete needs.

Click here for more information on your step-by-step ankle rehab programme.

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About The Author

Dave O'Sullivan

Dave O’Sullivan, Chartered Physiotherapist with a master’s in Strength and Conditioning, worked as a sports physio for the Wallabies Rugby Union team (2023 World Cup), England Rugby Union (2019 World Cup) and England Rugby League (2017 World Cup). He built a leading clinic in Huddersfield, UK, and developed a unique step-by-step approach with his own sporting and non sporting patients.

Dave now teaches his methods globally and has helped over 1,000 physiotherapists and other health professionals, giving them confidence and clarity to help patients who have failed traditional approaches.