Benefits Of Tape

Tape can be used for the rehabilitation, prevention and management of many types of sports injuries and disorders.

Published October 20, 2010 12:00


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Tape has been widely used for many years by certified athletic trainers and/or physiotherapists (the Primary Health Care Provider (PHCP) on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour) in the rehabilitation, prevention, and management of a wide variety of sports injuries and disorders.  Tape is a strong, supportive, lightweight and temporary support.  It conforms to the contours and movement of the body.

Tape is used for many different reasons:
• Reduce Pain 
• Protect joints and soft tissues
• Optimize joint alignment 
• Provide mechanical stability
• Unload irritable or painful tissue, like muscles, tendons, fascia and nerves 
• Improve proprioception (joint awareness) and balance
• Protect and help wounds heal faster 
• Neuromuscular effects - helps to relax overactive muscles and activate muscles that are not firing
• Control internal swelling and bleeding  
• Facilitate safe return to sport

Many different types of tape exist for many different purposes.  Tape varies in strength, material, width and tension. Your Primary Health Care Provider (PHCP) or certified Athletic Trainer will determine which tape is necessary for you depending on the location, severity and type of injury, type of structures involved and the reason for taping. Taping methods may be conventional (supportive) and/or therapeutic.  An example of a therapeutic taping technique is Kinesio® Tape:  This is a cloth tape with acrylic glue that allows for ventilation, good adhesion with minimal negative skin reactions. The elastic pattern moves with the skin and allows normal movement.  It is water and sweat resistant so it can be kept on to shower and bathe.

Kinesio® tape has several effects:
• Restores and normalizes muscles damaged by overuse or injury.  It supports injured muscles and assists in conditioning weakened muscles.
• Normalizes the space between the skin and muscles and promotes the flow of lymphatic fluid and blood.  This helps relieve fluid congestion, tissue tightness and pain from an injury. 
• Reduces pain by decreasing the activity of pain receptors. 
• Unlike other tapes, Kinesio® Tape is best applied and left in place for 2-5 days as it assists the injured muscles to function and heal. Your PHCPs will advise when it can be removed.


When to Tape
• There are many effective taping techniques. Try tape before practice to allow you to find the method that works best for you and your condition. This also helps you adjust to playing with tape.
• As part of your treatment plan, the PHCP or Athletic Trainer may advise you keep your tape on overnight to help healing, support, or alignment.
• Tape can work…even after it is removed! This carry-over effect occurs because receptors in your skin, joints, and soft tissue remain activated. This enhances the function, body awareness, balance and flexibility of the affected part.

APPLICATION: To ensure that the tape stays on:
• The area must be dry, clean, and free of body hair and of creams (like moisturizer and massage lotion).  Clean your skin with alcohol or soap and water prior to tape application.
• Skin Prep Protective Spray is a product that protects the skin from irritation, reduces friction, and assists in tape adhesion. It is applied to the skin before the adherent. 
• Tape adherent helps to bond the tape to the skin. It helps the tape stay in place!
REMOVAL: To ensure you protect your skin:
• Gently and slowly pull the skin from the tape, not the tape from the skin.  The tape must not be jerked or ripped off as this may tear skin and cause further problems and open wounds.
• Tape Cutters or "Sharks" and tape scissors are specifically designed tools to safely remove tape.  They have a blunt nose and lower blade that slips under the tape without cutting the skin.  TIP: To properly remove ankle tape, start at the upper inside leg, go behind the ankle bone & forward towards the big toe along the inside sole of the foot.
• Chemical Solvents such as "Adhesive Tape Remover" or "De-Adhesive" are pads that come in small packets and are found in the training room. These help dissolve the glue on the tape.

Tape is ONE part in the rehabilitation of an injury; it is not the whole solution!  Your Physical Therapist and /or Athletic Trainer are experienced practitioners who will select from a variety of treatment techniques to enhance your rehabilitation. To maximize the benefits you get from tape, they will prescribe exercises that aim to improve the stability of the taped structures and strengthen any underlying weaknesses. Your Physical Therapist /Athletic Trainer will also determine what other treatment methods are appropriate for your condition. For example, they may use manual therapy techniques or suggest stroke analysis to address the underlying cause. 

Preparation is Important. Get the support you need, to help you succeed.

The contents of the Game, Set, Health site, are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice.  The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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