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How ankle taping prevents injury

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inverted sprain on ankle
Ankle taping can help prevent the most common sports related injury: a sprained ankle
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Ankle taping can protect from re-injury and help prevent inverted sprains

Ankle injuries can occur in almost all types of sporting activities. With about 2 million ankle injuries per year, ankle sprains are the most common athletic injury in the United States. Ankle taping can prevent minor injuries and protect an athlete from re-injury.

Studies have yet to show that ankle taping is a consistent way to prevent ankle injuries. However, most report at least a decrease in inversion sprains. Inversion sprains are the most common type of ankle injury; often caused when the athlete inverts her foot during a jump and lands incorrectly.

The affect of even a minor sprain can cause an athlete to lose days of practice. Preventing ankle injury is a top priority for the athlete, coaches, parents and teammates, but the person doing the taping should first be trained by either a physical therapist or a certified athletic trainer.

Ankle Taping 101

According to the American Orthopedic Foot&Ankle Society (AOFAS), the basic materials needed for ankle taping supplies are: pre-wrap, 1Ē athletic tape, quick drying tape adhesive, 2X2 squares of nonstick dressing (if possible).

Before you begin, make sure the ankle is clean. Then, apply the 2X2 dressing to the front and back of the ankle. Circle the pre-wrap around the ankle and heel in a figure 8 form. Use pre-wrap around the arch of the foot for extra support.







Use one strip of athletic tape around the top of the ankle as the Ďanchorí and form a U from one side  of the anchor around the bottom of the ankle and up to the other side of the anchor. Apply a third strip of athletic tape over the first with a slight overlap. If necessary, apply more athletic tape in circular diagonal strips from the ankle to the top of the foot. Then go over the circular strips in reverse direction. Apply a final strip of tape around the heel.

See images demonstrating each step at the AOFAS.org.


The Benefits of Ankle Taping

Ankle taping can be most effective when used in combination with stretching, strength exercises and mobility. Physiotherapists believe that taping can also improve coordination, according to the Sports Injury Clinic. When a taped ankle begins to twist in the air before landing, for instance, the tape will restrict the incorrect movement. The muscle then contracts to correct the ankleís movement, preventing the ankle from inverting and the athlete from injuring himself upon landing.

Athletes who experience repeated ankle injuries may develop laxity, or loose ligaments. Ankle taping can safe guard unstable joints by providing extra support to the joint as needed. The external support of ankle taping also supports muscles and tendons, and keeps dressing and corrective pads in place.

Types of Ankle Tape

Zinc Oxide Tape - Zinc oxide tape is a non elastic, sticky athletic tape containing zinc oxide in the glue. Itís commonly used to limit the range of movement or protect the skin from blisters. Most effective when applied directly to the skin, many people prefer to have the tape applied over underwrap to avoid shaving the leg. Zinc oxide tape should not enclose an area as it can restrict blood flow. Apply it in a vertical strip of diagonal and be careful not to wrap it too tight.

Elastic Adhesive Bandage - An elastic adhesive bandage has an adhesive that will stick to the skin and is often used to tape around muscles and tendons as it will allow the muscle to expand.

Cohesive Bandage - Many people prefer cohesive bandaged as it will stick to itself and not the skin. With no adhesive layer, cohesive bandages are often used to wrap joints and finish off taping.

If you have suffered a minor ankle injury, treatment will include a rehabilitation program (preferably supervised by an athletic trainer or physical therapist) and wearing a brace for up to six months after the injury occurred, followed by strength and flexibility training.

References:

Ankle Orthopedic Foot&Ankle Society
Family Doctor: Ankle Sprains
Sports Injury Clinic

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