Ankle Taping and Bracing Periprocedural Care

Updated: Jun 19, 2023
  • Author: Douglas A Reeves, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Periprocedural Care


Many different types of athletic tape are manufactured. For standard ankle application, the tape of choice is 1.5- or 2-in. (3.8- or 5.1-cm) white, porous athletic tape or nonelastic tape.

Braces generally come in two types, though small variations exist from one manufacturer to the next. The first type is nonrigid and resembles a thick canvas or nylon lace-up sock. Some nonrigid braces are also made of neoprene. The nonrigid style imparts some compression to the ankle and may help in injury prophylaxis but provides little medial or lateral stability to the ankle.

The second type of ankle brace is the semirigid type. Its construction is similar to the nonrigid type but with the added feature of molded plastic struts or air cushions. These are incorporated into the medial and lateral sides of the brace, similar in orientation to the stirrups used in ankle taping. These braces provide more stability and are often chosen during the rehabilitation and return-to-play phases of ankle injury.

Most nonrigid and semirigid braces also use fabric straps to simulate heel locks. These are usually on the outside of the brace and fastened with Velcro.


Patient Preparation

For taping, the ankle should be in the neutral position (90°). The athlete should be seated comfortably, with the knee at full extension and only the distal half of the lower leg off the table (see the images below).

Ankle taping and bracing. Correct position: Note t Ankle taping and bracing. Correct position: Note the foot at 90º with athlete seated comfortably.
Ankle taping and bracing. Lateral view of correct Ankle taping and bracing. Lateral view of correct position. In this picture, heel and lace pads are already in place.

Several different methods of skin preparation are used in today's athletic training rooms. The most common is to simply clean and dry the lower leg, ankle, and foot. A layer of prewrap (a thin, foamlike material) is applied to the area to be taped. Some athletes prefer to shave the hair from around the area and to have the tape applied directly to the skin.

A quick-drying adherent is recommended and may be sprayed onto the skin to allow for better tape adhesion. Often, heel and lace pads (foam squares with petroleum jelly or other lubricant) are applied to areas of high friction (ie, the dorsum of the ankle and the distal Achilles tendon) to prevent blisters.

Keeping in mind that some steps are optional, prepare for taping as follows:

  • Clean and dry the skin
  • Apply tape adherent
  • Apply heel and lace pads
  • Apply prewrap from the midfoot to one third of the way up the lower leg