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How to apply a compression wrap for a sprained ankle

Start at the toes and apply wrap in a figure-eight pattern.

A compression wrap is used to prevent swelling, which can help your ankle feel better. It does not support the ankle or prevent it from moving. This means that it does not protect your ankle, but it can remind you to be careful with your ankle.

Before you start:

  • Roll up an elastic bandage if it isn't already rolled up. You can buy this type of bandage at a drugstore.
  • Optional: Get a horseshoe-shaped piece of padding to place under the anklebone (open end up). This will help keep fluid out of the hollow space under your anklebone. You can buy a pad or cut your own using a 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) thick pad.
  1. Hold your ankle at about a 90-degree angle. Start where your toes meet the body of your foot. Hold the loose end of the bandage at the side of your foot. Wrap the bandage around the ball of your foot once, keeping it somewhat taut with a light pull.
  2. Slowly start circling your way around the arch of the foot. Pull the bandage diagonally from the bottom of the toes across the foot's top and circle it around the ankle. If you're using a felt pad, when you get to the anklebone, wrap the bandage around the felt piece so it stays in place under the anklebone. Then bring the bandage diagonally across the top of the foot and under the arch in a figure-eight pattern.
  3. Continue around the ankle and foot in a figure eight, moving toward the heel on the bottom and toward the calf at the top of the eight. The wrap should cover the entire foot and end several inches above the ankle.
  4. Secure the end of the wrap. Most compression wraps are self-fastening or come with clip fasteners. If not, use tape to secure the end.

The wrap should be snug but should not cut off blood flow to the foot.

Current as of: July 17, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
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