There you were, doing your workout, minding your own business, and then your body flips out on you and you’re on the ground holding your ankle, knee, shoulder, or wrist in pain. Sprains are annoying and unpleasant. However, unless you’ve injured yourself so badly that you can’t bend or flex the joint at all, you should be able to stay in the game with a tension bandage or wrap.
The key is to try and limit the rotation or hyperextension of the joint, which is what caused the painful injury to the surrounding ligaments and tendons in the first place. So, after you’ve iced and elevated the injury for at least a few hours, and preferably rested it overnight to fully assess the extent of the sprain, grab a compression bandage (ACE), some lightweight gauze and athletic tape. Begin with the light weight gauze. Often beige in color and somewhat spongy and airy, this is a good inner layer that protects skin and hair from the pulling and tearing of an adhesive. Wrap the affected area with about two layers of gauze. Then, move to your choice of tape or bandage as a next layer. Your choice is a matter of personal comfort. Some people simply prefer the lighter feel of tape. Others prefer the added stability of tape. Wrap in a figure-eight pattern, starting with the instep of the ankle or the forearm right behind a wrist. Wrap twice around this area before beginning the figure-eight (hint, for wrists, the cross of the 8 goes to the inside of the wrist and the top of the eight goes under the thumb and over the back of the hand. Repeat about 3-4 full figure-eight turns and then wrap in overlapping circles the length of the injury. Some people also prefer the additional stability of a few pieces of tape laterally over the top of the wrist or wrapping around the bottom of the foot and up over the ankle like a bootstrap before securing with another few rings of tape or bandage. Secure in place. Then make sure you can still wiggle toes or fingers and that there is enough circulation (extremities shouldn’t turn purple). Continue your workout as normal, being careful about high-impact or heavy-weight-bearing activities.