In theory, taping your ankles seems like a good way to help stabilize the ankle and limit range of motion, which in turn can help prevent against ankle sprains during athletic activity. But just how effective is ankle taping at preventing foot injuries? Interestingly, there’s no clear answer, because medical experts can’t agree one way or the other.
Does Ankle Taping Help?
Ankle taping may be able to help prevent ankle sprains during athletic activity, but only if it is done correctly (click here to see taping instructions from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons). There has been low-evidence findings that ankle taping can help prevent some inversion ankle sprains during athletic activity either through ankle stabilization or because of increased proprioception (taping sensation allows our brain to have a better subconscious understanding of the location of our foot, which allows us to move in a way that reduces a mis-step or the likelihood of a sprain).
Others disagree and argue that there really is no correlation between ankle taping and reduced ankle sprain rates, and they chalk the small difference up to a real-life placebo effect. They say that if an ankle is going to sprain, it’s going to do it regardless of whether or not a few strips of tape are wrapped around an ankle.
In the end, do whatever feels comfortable. If you believe your ankle is better protected with tape, then continue taping your ankle. If you don’t like how it feels, you don’t need to worry that you’re increasing your likelihood of a sprain if you ditch the tape. And if you really want to reduce your likelihood of spraining your ankle, you’ll consider these tips instead.
Preventing Ankle Sprains
Regardless of your opinion on ankle taping, we can agree that it does little if anything to treat the underlying cause, which is loose or damaged lateral ankle ligaments. If you really want to reduce your likelihood of a sprain, you’ll target these ligaments during your treatment plan. You can do this by resting your ankles from athletic activity for a couple of days or weeks and participating in targeted physical therapy. Ask your doctor or look on the internet for physical therapy routines that target and strengthen your lateral ankle ligaments.
If you want more hands on help, reach out to Dr. Lance Silverman or another foot specialist in your area. They’ll be able to assess the ligament damage in your ankle and recommend patient-specific options. At his clinic, Dr. Silverman offers a minimally invasive surgical procedure the tightens the loosened ligaments and has athletes back to full health in a matter of weeks. You can learn more about that option by watching this one minute video.
For more information about ankle instability, or to talk to Dr. Silverman about your options, reach out to him in the contact box below!
Lance Silverman, MD
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