Taping Tips: Feet and Ankles

Yesterday in class I went over a few taping techniques with our senior ballet students, and thought it would be good to share them here as well.

These techniques are meant to provide support for short-term injuries such as rolled ankles, or allow the correction of alignment in the feet (i.e. for people prone to rolling in). If you suspect you have a serious injury, please consult a licensed physiotherapist before attempting any taping techniques (or any of the strengthening exercises in my previous post). Even if you do not think the injury is serious, please ice the affected area, elevate the foot, and rest the injury as much as possible. Pain relief can also be helpful - I particularly recommend Anti-Flamme, a cream which can be found in most pharmacies. (For example: http://www.unichempharmacy.co.nz/shop/Medicines+%26+Treatments/Pain+Relief/Anti-inflammatory.html). For an injury with an inflammation which, after professional consultation, will not go down, try a children's anti-inflammation medicine; for an injury which is causing incessant pain even with professional help, try Voltaren or a similar pain relief.

These taping techniques will require either of the following: basic flesh-coloured strapping tape (I prefer Nexcare, but anything will do), or a stretch-tape which can be used for long-term or difficult strapping, such as D3 Kinesiology Muscle Tape (available at most pharmacies and sports shops), or Dynamic Tape (a similar type recommended by Lisa Howell of The Ballet Blog, but which must be ordered online - https://www.dynamictape.info). If you find the tape is irritating your skin, try using medical dressing tape (available at most pharmacies) as a barrier; it is kinder on the skin. Simply use it the same way you would the tape before placing your normal strapping.

What's left of my Nexcare tape

D3 Kinesiology Tape - comes in all sorts of colours!

Technique #1

This is the most basic technique. It will help keep rolled ankles in place and provide support for ongoing injuries or perceived weaknesses in the ankles.

Apologies for my foot's guest appearance ;)

Start with the affected foot flat on the ground, and place the end of the tape on the top of the foot just in front of the ankle. Move over the outer end of the foot and wrap the strapping under the foot. Make sure it is not too tight at this point.

Bring the strapping up and past the beginning point and around the outer ankle (this bit can get a little tricky to place correctly). Bring round the back of the ankle with the foot flexed and back to the beginning point. Make sure the foot is held in place firmly, but you are still able to move it. Flex, point, and move your foot around to make sure it is comfortable. If the foot still feels weak, you can go around the foot again, moving up the ankle if required.

Mine's possibly a little tight - get up and do some basic movements (releves, tendus, etc.) to make sure

Be warned that strapping is not a permanent solution, and if you use it on a regular basis, you run the risk of the muscles becoming reliant on the support and weakening further. Strengthening exercises (performed without the strapping) are an excellent way to prevent this (see my previous post 'Pointework Challenge' - but see a professional physiotherapist before doing so if you have a serious injury).

Technique #2

This technique can be used for supporting a pulled muscle in the inner foot, a foot prone to rolling in, or a foot prone to cramping. Using basic tape, place the affected foot on the ground. Place the end of the tape just over the outer foot, in the middle. Wrap the tape under the foot - make sure it's not too tight - and bring up the other side. Underneath the ankle bone is a small nob of bone -

Have a feel around until you find it

- bring the tape up as tight as you need to support the foot until just above this point. Continue for a little until you reach the ankle bone proper. Cut the tape here, and repeat on the other side if necessary.

This is a quick fix for feet that roll inwards whilst trying to train the muscles to align correctly. If using the technique to help cramping in the inner muscle of the foot, please also see Exercise #2 of my previous post, or even just stretch out the affected area with a foot roller gently. Calcium-Magnesium tablets can help with cramping (take one daily, and if there is no improvement up the dosage to two tablets). Supermarkets and pharmacies ought to have them.

Technique #3

This technique requires both the basic and the kinesiology tape, and originates with Lisa Howell of The Ballet Blog. It is meant for preventing bunions, but can also be used to realign the position of the feet/knees, etc, and nudge the muscles into the correct walking position. Perhaps try the technique if you have serious rolling issues or turned-in knees (which may result from an incorrect walking position). Before you start, wrap the uncut strapping around your foot in the manner illustrated - it's better to have too much tape than too little.

An illustration of the technique, from The Ballet Blog

Begin underneath the foot, just underneath the little toe. Bring the strapping across and over the big toe joint (where a bunion would occur if you had one), making sure the metatarsal is correctly aligned. Bring the tape over and wrap around the foot again to the same point. Wrap the tape over the top of the foot on a shallow diagonal to the middle of the outer foot and under again. Find the nob of bone under the ankle bone which is illustrated in the previous technique. Firmly securing this point, bring the tape over the top of the ankle and around the heel. Then bring the tape straight across the inner foot, ending over the second joint of the big toe. Secure the end with a small piece of basic tape. Repeat on other side if necessary.

For a video of the process, see Lisa's blog: https://www.theballetblog.com/portfolio/taping-for-bunions/

Disclaimer: If you have a serious problem - like an Achilles issue - please see an professional physiotherapist. I only share the taping techniques I have had personal experience with, and am not a qualified practitioner.

- Selene

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