How to Strap for Patella Dislocation and Instability

Patella Dislocation is a knee injury that can regularly occur in sports that involve twisting motions of the knee, and where the patella (knee cap) is dislodged laterally out of the patellofemoral groove at the front of the knee.

Its is an injury that is most common in younger athletes, between 16-20 years old, but can also occur randomly by impact in contact sports.

Perhaps the most watched patella dislocation injury in the AFL history, was when Sydney Swan footballer, Daryn Cresswell, dislocated his kneecap and was trying desperately to knock it back into place.

Patella Dislocation - Daryn Cresswell

Patella Instability is also a condition that is not as common as some of the injuries that we have covered so far, but can either cause excruciating pain if dislodged, or restricting athlete discomfort if the patella is not tracking properly in the patellofemoral groove.

In this article of the SportStrap “How to Strap” series, I’d like to take a closer look at the injury itself, and how to strap for patella dislocation and instability.

How is the Patella Injured

There are varing degrees of Patella injuries from Patella Subluxation through to Patella Dislocation.

Patella Injuries

Patella Sublaxation is where the an unstable patella, or knee cap, does not track centrally in the groove at the end of the thigh bone as the knee bend, causing discomfort to the sides of the knee. This can be common in younger athletes, and can be hereditary.

Patella Dislocation is where the knee cap is dislodged for the groove, and it normally occurs in two ways:

  1. A direct impact to the front of the knee, knocking the patella laterally out of place.
  2. Quadriceps tendons & ligaments attached to the patella act awkwardly during twisting motions of the knee, forcing the patella out of place.

Below is a video showing a great technique for strapping Patella Instability using Sports Tape, by highly experienced Sports Trainer, Cam Wray. Enjoy!

How to Strap for Patella Instability

YouTube Preview Image

The video shows a easy to follow method, that gives great support to the patella, while giving the athlete plenty of unrestricted movement.

In this technique the knee is in a relaxed straight position, with the tape applied as follows:

  • Two anchors are applied around the top of the Calf and the bottom of the Hamstring with Rigid Strapping Tape.
  • Then using the McConnell taping technique, or J-Tape to the outside of the knee. This method involves applying strips of Rigid Tape to the outside of the knee in a J shape, starting from the top anchor on the outside, down beside the kneecap and across and under to the inner side of the bottom anchor. Remember to apply a bit of pressure to the knee cap, with the tape tension, to keep the knee cap in the central position.
  • Alternate this method by starting from the bottom anchor on the outside, up beside the kneecap and across and over to the inner side of the top anchor. Apply 2-3 layers.
  • Finish of by wrapping the knee with Elastic Adhesive Bandage, but remembering to avoid the crook of the knee (for player comfort)
  • Then tape or any bits that may roll up during activity with rigid tape.

This method is great for injury prevention, recovery from an existing injury or for temporary relief from patella instability. With any injury of this nature, it is recommend to seek professional advice, and physical therapy can also assist with proper injury prevention or recovery.

As well as using the correct patella taping technique, its also important to use quality supplies, so lets have a look at what is needed to complete the job.

What items do you need to Strap for Patella Instability?

To strap a patella properly, you are going to need the following items:

38mm Rigid Strapping Tape

Rigid Strapping Tape 38mm

50mm Elastic Adhesive Bandage

Elastic Adhesive Bandage

 Optional items you may wish to use:

Pre-Tape Spray

Skin Prep Spray

(improves tape adhesion)

Preparation to Tape a Patella

For the best results when patella strapping, it is recommended to prepare the knee by doing the following:

  • Shave off any hair around the area being taped (Hairy guys only).
  • Ensure the hand is clean from dirt or oil.
  • It is recommended to use Pre-Tape Spray for better adhesion

What is the Right Tape Tension.

When taping this method it is important not to tape the anchors to tight, as it will restrict the players movement, cause discomfort and possibly restrict blood flow.

When taping the McConnell technique its important to apply good tension pulling the knee-cap back toward the inner side of the leg

Here’s What You Need To Do Next…


While this method is quiet simple, make sure you practice it once or twice in the next week, while its fresh in your mind.


I want you to leave me a comment on this page, and let me know how you plan on using what you learned from this edition of SportStrap “How To Strap” series.

And finally…

Let me know what you think of the SportStrap “How To Strap” series. This is the sixth episode, and I’d love to hear how much you’ve enjoyed it, and even what you’d like me to cover next. Remember subscribe to this newsletter below if you haven’t already.

For links to Previous episodes, here you go:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

We take your privacy very seriously

Have a most outstanding day,

Cade Arnel ©2011


8 responses to “How to Strap for Patella Dislocation and Instability

  1. Hey I was just wondering. I have pain to the inner side of my knee cap. Also been told I have floating knee caps, its mostly my left knee that hurts.
    Should I still tape the same way in the video or should I do it the opposite way?

    Thanx heaps , Fiona

    • Hi Fiona,
      Typically the knee cap will move to the outside of the knee rather than to the inside, however the method could be reversed providing support to the opposite side or both sides of the knee cap. Though its recommended to get a professional examination & advice on your knee, and discuss the best method for management.

  2. Dislocated my kneecap last week and though the swelling is going down, the kneecap still feels REALLY unstable. Is this normal during healing? Would this technique help as much as using this bulky immobilizer that btw doesn’t seem to do much except give me muscle cramps. Thanks.

    • I did this a few years ago, and you should be putting ice on your knee as much as possible, my physio told me once and HOUR! (but it was the summer holidays so I had little else to do.
      Don’t try to do too much with it yet, when I dislocated my kneecap I was in a leg brace for 3 weeks!

  3. Hi every1…i’ve been suffering from my knee popping for the past 7months and i have been visiting a doctor but the only thing he do is to take water out of the leg, the last time i visit him he said i should use a bandage for 3weeks, i’ve been using it but no changes…seriously i think am loosing my knee coz it’s not even static anymore….pls i need help…THANKs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>