There are two reasons to wrap an ankle. The most common is to prevent a sprain, but it can also be done post-injury for support.
David Leigh has been wrapping ankles for more than 35 years, more than 100,000 ankles in all by his estimate. A professor in Marquette University’s exercise science department, which is part of the school’s physical therapy program, Leigh said wrapping an ankle is a manual skill that anyone can learn.
It costs about $1 to wrap an ankle, and expenses can add up for kids who practice a lot, so the use of ankle braces is growing. Bracing technology has improved to the point, Leigh said, that it’s as good or better than taping. A good ankle brace is about $30, he said, “so for 60 bucks you buy a pair, lace them up and don’t have to wrap.”
However, most athletes prefer to be taped, he said, even though tape loses 50 percent of its effectiveness in 15 minutes. “They like the feel of taping better because it’s lighter, thinner than a brace,” he said.
He said that an ankle shouldn’t be kept taped more than 24 hours. One taping, though, is good for several kids’ leagues sporting events, three or four games in a day. The wrap will lose its effectiveness as the day wears on, however.