Some taping techniques are designed to have the tape adhere to the skin, while most others are best used with an under wrap or pre-wrap.
Benefits of Athletic Taping:
1. Stabilize joints
2. Off load pressure from an injury
3. Reduce pain
4. Prevent injury
5. Improve performance
Now lets get down to the athletic taping basics:
This form of white athletic tape is now commonplace and found in almost every drug store. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for and cheaper tapes may not provide the same longevity and stability as well-made more expensive tapes. The three most common companies making professional athletic tape I endorse are Johnson and Johnson, Mueller Sports and Cramer Products.
The athletic tape is usually applied over a felt-type 2-inch underwrap or pre-wrap to protect the skin. The foot taping technique can be left on for days even after showering, however, the function of the tape will be reduced slightly with each additional day it is on. I have witnessed the foot tape still functioning 5 to 7 days later. Ankle sprain, shin splint, and lower leg tapings should be removed before sleep. If you have allergies to latex, it is especially important to stay with the superior manufacturers and look for the "Latex Free" label on the tape packaging. Many times, I suggest tape to 70-80% of maximum tolerable tension and allow the tape to stretch somewhat for the first 10-15 minutes its on. If it continues to still feel too constrictive or is chafing, remove it and re-tape with less tension. Also, don't worry about little wrinkles you may have in these taping strategizes. You're not an athletic trainer, so easy on yourself.
Conditions I primarily use athletic taping for:
4. Lower leg taping
5. A justification for custom orthotics usage - if taping the foot improves your condition, whether it be plantar fasciitis, shin splints, achilles tendinitis, patellar tendinitis, groin pain or even back, neck or head pain, custom orthotics will help reduce these symptoms even more.
Bottom Line, Have Fun!
Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, DC, CCFC
Athletic tape is not flexible, it is rigid and provides support to an area of joints, tendons and muscles. In most cases, the sports tape is used to stabilize and support both pre and post-injury. When used in a specific way and applied by professionals, it will frequently allow athletes to continue their activity even while injured. This is due to the tape's ability to restrict abnormal movement while still maintaining normal movement of the joints, such as with a sprained ankle
The importance of athletic tape is clearly defined by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association who estimates that NFL and College annual sales total 75 million dollars. It is estimated each NFL team uses 80 miles of tape per season.
Just like Band-Aids are used to treat cuts and scrapes, athletic tape is used for the treatment and prevention of many sports injuries. Unlike the relatively new science of kinesiology taping, doctors and trainers have been using the science and technology of rigid strapping since the late 1800's. Dr. Virgil Gibney pioneered the technique of strapping sprained ankles with cloth that had a rubber adhesive added to it, calling it "tape." This rubber adhesive tape was quickly used to stabilize other body parts. Although effective, the adhesive was irritating; in 1899 Johnson and Johnson began marketing this tape calling it Zonas Tape. The addition of zinc oxide to the tape was the birth of modern taping because it reduced skin irritation. This modern tape is still made primarily out of cotton, making it sweat resistant.
Athletic Taping Techniques