“Tape those ankles tighter” …High Ankle Sprains…



Lately we are seeing a lot more high ankle sprains than ever before. With players being in better shape, stronger, faster, and more athletic, one would assume that those numbers should not be going up.

I have heard people make comments about taping ankles, and if ankles were taped tighter and better, than maybe we would see LESS of these sprains. Having taped probably 1000’s of ankles in my time, I would have to say that I disagree that taping is the answer for preventing ankle sprains, in fact, I will say that taping may be the reason we are seeing so many more high ankle sprains.

Let’s look at this objectively. In the past, players didn’t get taped as much as they do today. Players relied on something called “STRENGTH and NATURAL STABILITY” to support their ankles. There were no special cleats, no crazy tape jobs, and certainly no spatting going on like there is today. Fast forward just a few years, and while we see more tape, we still don’t see the amount of high ankle sprains that we do today. Fast forward even more, to present time and what is the difference? I believe that because many teams out there are taping every single player no matter what, and then spatting every single cleat, and never really rehabbing those ankles (getting them stronger) the way we should or once did, we set the ankle up for the HIGH SPRAIN. Let me explain

The strength and style of these tape jobs, and braces, cause the ankle to be extremely ridged and unyielding. When a traumatic force is applied, the “true ankle joint”, or the lower ankle, is so over protected, the forces travels up the leg, and releases on the next weakest part. Usually that is the higher ligaments and soft tissues, and this causes what is referred to as a high ankle sprain.

This is not to say that ALL high ankle sprains are due to tape jobs, or that all high ankle sprains can be completely prevented. However, when we see an increase like we see in sports today, especially football, we have to ask ourselves why? Many athletes have a mentality that since they are taped, they dont have to worry about doing anything else. No rehab,

I may be way off in my reasoning, I have been before, but it makes good sense to me. At the very least, sports medicine professionals need to take more time getting their athletes stronger, and less time slapping tape on every joint that is weak, or sore. Tape certainly does have its place, and I am in no way calling for a ban in taping athletes, quite the contrary. I simply am stating that I feel for some athletes and even athletic trainers, and coaches, tape has become the last stop in injury reduction and prevention. Tape should be an aid in the process, and strength, conditioning should be the focus during the prevention, and rehabilitation process.

One Response to “Tape those ankles tighter” …High Ankle Sprains…

  1. Dos says:

    Great points Keith…. our volleyball and basketball athletes feel naked when I make them do activity without tape or braces. 90% of these athletes have never even had an ankle injury yet they are force-fed the notion that they must be taped/braced at all times. We get in our sand pit at least once a week to do just that…..get their bodies used to feeling what it’s like to work when not in a cast. Everybody who works with these types of athlete should follow suit so that the ankle proprioceptors are at least allowed to do their jobs once in a while.

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