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How to Wrap a Sprained Wrist - What are my options?

by Patty Weasler, RN August 19, 2020 0 Comments

Taping Wrist

Learning how to wrap a sprained wrist may be one of the fastest ways to heal an injury, improve recovery time, ease symptoms, and prevent further injury. Whether using traditional wrapping techniques or trying out athletic or kinesiology tape, there are plenty of benefits to take advantage of. Keep reading to learn more about how to wrap your sprained wrist.

Benefits of Wrapping and Taping

You can wrap your wrist with an elastic bandage or tape your wrist with athletic tape after a sprain or prevent one even before it happens. It’s an easy way to provide wrist support quickly and with minimal cost. See some of the other benefits here.

  • Restricts movement within the wrist
  • Provides compression
  • Reduces swelling
  • Minimizes pain
  • Prevents additional injury
  • Increases awareness of the injury

Wrapping and taping can be especially effective when used to stabilize the wrist during exercise. See more sprained wrist exercises here.

Athletic Tape vs Kinesio Tape

Athletic tape and kinesiology tape are similar, although it’s important to understand their differences to make the best use of them. 

Athletic tape

Athletic tape is wrapped around the wrist injury and limits movement. It is the more straightforward of the two options, with no adhesive backing and limited to no elasticity.  Since it is not as flexible, it is a good choice for short-term recovery, early in the healing process.

Kinesiology Tape

With an adhesive backing, highly elastic material, and many different types to choose from, kinesio tape offers plenty of unique benefits. Since it doesn’t restrict movement, it’s a good option for athletes or those who want to stay active during their recovery.

Athletic Tape

Looking to try wrapping your sprained wrist with athletic tape? Follow these simple instructions to get started.

  1. Start by wrapping the wrist and hand in a protective pre-wrap.

  2. With all the fingers and thumb spread apart, which tightens the muscles, place three pieces of tape around the wrist with each one ascending up the arm as you go.

  3. Place a piece of tape starting at the inside of the wrist on the anchor wrap up between the thumb and index finger back down to the back of the wrist. Do not wrap this piece tightly.

  4. Flex the hand slightly and apply three to five pieces of tape from the wrist anchor to the top of the palm. Each piece needs to be placed so that you are making an X or fan shape.

  5. Anchor the last pieces of tape you place around your wrist and again on the top of your palm with a piece wrapping around your hand. Be sure to keep your wrist in a flexed position as you secure the anchor tape.

Kinesio Tape

Kinesio tape might take a bit more practice to get right, but with these simple instructions, you should have it down in no time.

  1. Take a full piece of kinesiology tape and anchor it to the back of your hand. Stretch it up the length of your forearm, while keeping the arm flexed forward.

  2. Anchor a second piece of tape on the side of your wrist, beneath the thumb joint. With a moderate stretch, wrap the tape around the wrist and secure in place.

  3. Rub the kinesiology tape with your hand to help it adhere to your skin.

When to Wrap Your Wrist Injury

If you have a mild wrist sprain then wrapping your wrist can be a safe option, in conjunction with other home treatments. Mild (or Grade 1) wrist sprains are characterized by ligaments that are stretched but not torn. You may experience mild to moderate pain and have bruising and tenderness at the site. A wrist wrap is quick and will reduce swelling and help speed up healing.

Try Using Hot & Cold Therapy for Added Relief

How Long Should You Wrap a Sprained Wrist?

The length and duration of your wrap will depend on the severity of your injury. Although wrapping can protect your wrist, overusing a wrap or tape can hinder recovery and your muscles may become reliant on the extra support instead of strengthening and recovering.

For more serious sprains, it is best to talk to your doctor for more information.

Using a Wrist Splint Instead

A wrist splint can be a good alternative to wrapping if you are unable to wrap your wrist alone or need something that can be put on and taken off quickly. It incorporates some of the same elements of a wrist wrap, along with a rigid element that helps keep the wrist stabilized.

How to Put on a Wrist Splint

First, open the Velcro straps and secure your arm in place. Then simply tighten the splint until it is snug around the wrist, but not so tight that it is cutting off circulation. You can reuse a wrist splint as long as you need it, making it a handy recovery tool.

Learn About Different Wrist Splints Here

Wrapping a Wrist Sprain Safely

Wrapping your wrist after a sprain is an effective and safe way to treat mild wrist sprains. Before you begin treatment talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t have a bone fracture or ligament tears. Once you’ve been given the go-ahead, wrap your wrist using an elastic bandage or tape will provide compression and reduce swelling. It can help speed up the healing process and get you back to all the activities you enjoy.




Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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