When to Apply Compression
The main purpose of an Ace Bandage is to compress an injured area in order to limit blood flow, which will, in turn, limit swelling and promote healing. When you incur an injury, such as a sprained ankle or wrist, first apply ice to the affected area. After icing for 15 to 20 minutes, use an Ace Bandage to compress the area for an hour or two, and then ice the area again. During this whole period, you should elevate the injured area above the level of your heart to further limit blood flow.
Keep an Ace Bandage around the injured area for several days or longer if desired to support the injury and supply mild compression. When you are plan to leave the bandage on for longer periods of time, make sure it is not too tight--your injured extremity should not go numb, tingle or turn a noticeably different color than your uninjured ones.
If you pull or strain a major muscle, such as your calf or hamstring, you can wrap it with an Ace Bandage to help reduce inflammation. To begin wrapping, place the band on top of the injured area, then loop the band around once, so that the band secures the starting end. Proceed to loop the band around the injured limb over and over again, working your way from one end of the injury to the other. As you loop the band, make sure that there is some tension in the elastic fibers, so it doesn't hang loosely off your skin. Once you run out of bandage, use two bandage clips to secure the loose end to the wrap (these come with the bandage). The clips have small metal teeth that will grip the fibers of the bandage; apply two teeth to the loose end, then stretch the end out a little and push the other teeth into the wrap. To remove an Ace Bandage, simply remove the clips and unwrap the bandage.
When using an Ace Bandage to wrap a sprained joint, you may be able to provide extra support by wrapping the bandage on both sides of the joint. For ankle or wrist sprains, for instance, start your wrap above the sprain on the shin or forearm, then after several loops, cross the bandage over so that it travels under your foot or across your palm. Then begin a figure-eight wrapping motion, going back and forth over the injured joint. Wrapping the bandage over the joint will provide some extra stability, and will help restrict mobility by providing slight rigidity. While you shouldn't use Ace Bandages as a substitute for stiffer support, such as a brace or athletic taping, they can provide a less obtrusive way to support the joint when you aren't engaged in taxing activities.