Sports Tape: Useful tool or Gimmick?

Sports Tape: Useful tool or Gimmick?

What does tape even do and why do so many physios use it?

You may have seen athletes wear it- you may have seen it stocked on the shelves at your local supermarket or pharmacy, or at your local little league soccer game. There’s no denying that there is an increased prevalence and awareness of sport and injury management today, in hopes that we can do a better job of performing at our best while keeping injury and pain at bay.

Now if you’re a sports athlete there’s almost always someone on your sports team that you see using either a brace, or some form of taping. 

Here’s a run down of different types of tape and their most common usages, and what you’ll typically see in a sports rehab setting.

K-Tape (Kinesio-Tape)

This tape is a stretchy adhesive cotton strip. It’s less restrictive and allows for a lot more freedom of movement and will provide less additional stability in comparison with harder, stiffer forms of tape. Its strengths are that it doesn’t restrict range of motion, and functions well when the goal is to get the patient moving with minimal restriction.

It’s mainly used as a therapeutic product but often used for performance purposes as well. Its main use is to alleviate pain and sometimes facilitate lymphatic drainage by lifting and affecting the skin. It’s often purported to reduce pain, inflammation, post surgical healing, prevent injury and promote circulation. While most of these claims are not scientifically proven, if used in the correct context as an adjunct to a proper rehab program and treatment plan it can be a very effective tool. 

One adolescent patient of mine recently had pain due to hyper-extension of the wrist due to poor control, and laxity of the wrist joints. 3 pieces of k-tape was enough to prevent excessive wrist extension, and within 2-3 days of application she reported a minimum of 50% reduction in pain symptoms. 

Rigid or Strapping Tape

Rigid and strapping tape is used by physical therapists, kinesiologists and other health care practitioners to improve the management of acute musculoskeletal problems. These high adhesive rigid strapping tapes are formulated with a strong zinc oxide adhesive, are porous and hand-tearable and offer extra strong support for sprains and strains. 

Its main quality is in its name. It’s very firm and rigid and offers good support for many purposes. You’ll often see this type of tape on sports athletes such as rugby players' wrists, hands, or soccer players' ankles or Achilles for example. This tape functions to stabilize, restrict, or protect a particular joint from further injury. In hot environments these tapes can last probably between 30-60 minutes depending on sweat, but in comparison to other forms of tape this is still a tape that can restrict and protect a joint for a long time if the adhesive holds.  

Cover-Roll/ Hypafix

Cover-Rolls or Hypafix is a non-woven bandage with a non-irritating adhesive.

It is hypoallergenic, self-adhesive, breathable, cross elastic and latex free. 

Cover rolls are often used as a dressing cover or bandage over top in many medical cases. However, the most common usage for physios and athletic therapists is as a base layer for tape when we don’t want to pull too hard on skin, or if the patient has sensitive skin that is irritated with adhesive contact. It’s soft with a mild stretchable material that contours well to the body. Typically in athletic settings it is not used in isolation unless used to hold a dressing.Often used as a base layer to strong rigid tapes.

Hope this helps! 

As always, feel free to contact us if you’re looking for sports taping or any other physiotherapy needs!

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