Why Gymnasts Tape Their Ankles

The Final Five have been very inspirational to watch during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Each competitor in the US Women’s Gymnastics team brought a high level of skill and poise to their team and individual routines. Their maneuvers and skills were planned and executed almost flawlessly. Along with years of training, they developed a rhythm to their preparations before performing, including warming up, stretching, and wrapping their wrists or ankles.

Why do they do it?

Have you noticed that some perform with tape and some apply tape before and after? Simply put, it’s because tape can be used for multiple reasons, mostly for protection and prevention.

  • Skin protection – It prevents toe splits, which occurs when the skin tears where the toes attach to the foot. They usually can occur when they land from an aerial maneuver or dismount. It also protects against other tears on the foot and ankles where the skin may come into contact with equipment used for the performance. If there is already a skin rip, pre-wrap can be used to prevent further ripping or blistering.
  • Further injury prevention – By using figure eights around the ankle and heel, tape can restrict full range of motion, which is important if you’ve had an ankle injury before. When gymnasts roll their ankles, ligaments can become stretched, making the ankle more likely to be injured.
  • Support/Healing – In the same regard, taping their ankles to a fixed position can support the injured ligament to heal properly without continuing to be stretched or loosened.

What do they use?

When wrapping their ankles, gymnasts use a combination of pre-wrap and athletic tape. The pre-wrap (or pre-wrap tape) is a foam-like material that is used to wrap the area in need of protection. Because applying athletic tape directly would irritate and cause pain to the skin, pre-wrap provides an area for the athletic tape to be securely applied.

Will this work for me?

Whether or not you are a gymnast, pre-wrap tape and athletic tape can be helpful for injury prevention and for supporting injury treatment. Taping can be effective for any athletes that may suffer from ankle or foot injury the same way that gymnasts do. If you are worried about weak ankles and are training hard for an event, you may want to wrap your ankles as a preventative measure.

Whatever your reasons for considering taping, it is probably best to see your podiatrist first. Our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Carl Ingrassia of Fords Foot and Ankle Care will properly assess your needs using the latest diagnostic tools and technology. To treat your foot and ankle needs, make an appointment at our Fords, NJ office, today!