How do I Wrap an Ankle Bandage?

Matthew F.

The ankle is one of the most physiologically complicated joints of the human body. It is prone to many injuries, and the most common ankle injury of all is a sprain. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments of that connect the bones of the ankles together are stretched beyond their normal elasticity. There are a few different ways to treat an ankle sprain, and all of them use a form of ankle bandage. There is one basic way to tie an ankle bandage, though different materials may be used.

A person with a sprained ankle.
A person with a sprained ankle.

One of the most common forms of an ankle bandage is an elastic bandage, sometimes called an Ace® wrap, which come in differing sizes. Elastic bandages are commonly a feature in first aid kits, and can be found in drugstores and pharmacies without having to visit a general practitioner. Someone with an ankle injury may begin to wrap their ankle with an ace bandage by putting the open end of the bandage on the top of their foot and beginning to wrap it completely around the foot. It is necessary to wrap more than one time around the foot in order to secure more support for the foot and ankle.

An ankle bandage, crepe bandage or wrap can be used to protect an injured area that is otherwise difficult to bandage.
An ankle bandage, crepe bandage or wrap can be used to protect an injured area that is otherwise difficult to bandage.

Once the foot is wrapped to the person’s comfort, one should bring the open end of the bandage toward the back of his or her ankle and begin wrapping around the ankle as well. The bandage should be continued to wrap up around the ankle and down underneath the foot so that the entire ankle and foot is covered except for the toes and heel. There is little need to wrap up higher than the calf muscle, and there is absolutely no need to wrap higher than the knee.

When using the Ace® wrap for an ankle bandage it is important to not wrap the ankle too tight because this could cut off blood flow to the foot. Other important things to note for safety is that the bandage should be removed at least once a day for a few minutes so that numbness in the foot does not occur, and so also that the wrap may be retied for better support.

Ace® bandages are not the only type of ankle bandage. Some people, especially athletes who are looking to still engage in physical activity with an injury or who to avoid future injury, use tape for an ankle bandage. There really should be no difference in the method used to tie the bandage between different materials, it is important to wrap the foot first and then move on to the ankle, while leaving the heel and toes exposed. Loss of circulation and numbness should always be avoided when using an ankle bandage, regardless of the material used for the bandage.

Ankle bandages should first be wrapped around the foot, then the ankle.
Ankle bandages should first be wrapped around the foot, then the ankle.

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Discussion Comments


Don't forget the safety pin! ACE bandages always come with little clips to secure the bandage and they *always* get lost! A big safety pin will keep the free end of the bandage secure until you unpin it. A diaper pin works great if that's what you have. I might even recommend a diaper pin since they're large and will secure more territory than a standard safety pin. They also have the bid plastic heads on them which makes them easy to locate.

I've wrapped my ankles many times, and I always come back to the usefulness of safety pins as the very best way to secure them -- especially if I'm out and about and not around the house.


If you have a sprained ankle, a well wrapped bandage will actually help the pain a little. When I was dealing with sprains, I would make sure I wrapped the area that hurt the worst tighter. Not enough to cut off the circulation, but the compression seemed to help the worst of the pain. Maybe that was all in my head, but it seemed to work.

I also wrapped the bandage around my upper foot. Again, the extra support seemed to really help. Maybe it kept it from moving as much. I'm not sure, but it did assist in keeping the pain down to a more manageable level.

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