It's a Wrap

Whether you’re going back to class after an injury or just need extra support, a proper tape job can do the trick. Here’s how to wrap your ankle, arch and patellar tendon.

Target: Ankle

To support: Weak ankles

Use: Elastikon

  1. Flex foot, and lay the tape across the ankle from the inside anklebone down toward the outside of foot.
  2. Wrap underneath foot, pulling tape tight, but not so tight it stretches out the tape.
  3. Continue wrapping up and over the arch.
  4. Cross in front of the ankle to complete a figure 8.
  5. Repeat winding the tape in the figure-8 pattern, 4-5 times.
  6. Finish at the top of the foot to prevent curling. Cut and press down until tape sticks to itself.[

Tightness Tests:

Use the following to make sure the wrap isn’t cutting off circulation:

  • Press and release the nail bed of each toe—the blood should return to the bed instantly.
  • Touch skin of foot. It shouldn’t tingle, be too hot or cold or have changed temperature.
  • When you stand up, you should be able to feel all your toes on the floor.

Target: Arch

To prevent: Rolling in resulting from weakness

Use: Elastikon

  1. With toes splayed as wide as possible, place end of tape slightly below ball of foot.
  2. Wrap around foot once, keeping tape taut and pressed smoothly and firmly against skin.
  3. Continue to wind tape around foot 4-5 times. On each consecutive wind, pull taut at the inside of arch.
  4. Finish at the top of foot to prevent curling. Cut and press down until tape sticks to itself.

Target: Patellar Tendon

To relieve: Patellar tendonitis, without limiting range of motion

Use: Foam prewrap

  1. Relax knee by lifting heel off floor and resting weight on ball of foot. If this is uncomfortable, place a small block underneath heel. Then, starting above the thigh, wrap the foam around the leg.
  2. Work your way down to about an inch below knee.
  3. Locate your patellar tendon between the kneecap and above the tibia. It will feel like soft tissue.
  4. Roll the foam from the top down and the bottom up, toward the patellar tendon.
  5. Finish with the foam band running across the patellar tendon. The foam will place pressure on the tendon, relieving stress at either end, where it connects to the tibia and the kneecap.

Tightness Tests:

Use the following to make sure the wrap isn’t cutting off circulation:

  • Gently rub the back of knee, where there are many nerves and blood vessels. There shouldn’t be any discomfort.
  • There shouldn’t be any temperature changes or sensations running down your leg.

Stock Your Bag

For this article, PT Megan Richardson used:

  • Elastikon, an elastic cloth athletic tape that is thin enough to fit into pointe, ballet, jazz and tap shoes, and sticky enough to prevent curling for barefoot dancers.
  • J-Wrap Pretaping Underwrap, a soft foam prewrap designed for use beneath athletic tape to protect skin.

Both are made by Johnson & Johnson and are available at medical supply stores and some drugstores such as CVS or Duane Reade.

Caution!

Remember that wrapping should never be used as the only treatment for injury or in the place of strengthening exercises—always consult your doctor and physical therapist prior to dancing with or returning from an injury.

Megan Richardson is a physical therapist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases in NYC.

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