Athletic tape is used to support injured soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments and tendons. If these tissues receive appropriate support, they will have an opportunity to rest and recover. In addition to support, taping can also provide compression to an injury. This will improve circulation in the area of the injury and will also promote healing.
Athletic taping involves direct contact between the skin and the adhesive used in the tape. Those with sensitive skin may find that this results in an adverse skin reaction. This is especially the case if they have an allergic sensitivity to latex.
However, tapes are increasingly being manufactured using latex free adhesives. This (obviously) eliminates latex sensitivity as an issue of concern for such individuals. The tapes in this section are all latex free and hypoallergenic. As such they are ideally suited for those with sensitive skin.
Comparison Of Athletic Tape With Orthopedic Bracing
Compared to orthopedic bracing, athletic tape is a low profile approach to injury treatment. If done properly, it does not interfere unduly with freedom of movement or joint range of motion.
Athletic tape also conforms more closely to contoured body areas and is therefore easier to wear inside athletic shoes or under athletic clothing.For this reason, athletic tape is generally preferred to bracing by serious athletes as a means of supporting injured tissues or joints. It is also a popular approach to reducing the risk of injury during competition or training.
However, the correct application of athletic tape requires significant knowledge and training.
Athletic tape use is however more time consuming than orthopedic bracing. This is because the application of a tape job takes a higher level of skill and training than is required to don an orthopedic support like a knee brace.
In addition, athletic tape may have to be applied several times in a short period to maintain the intended level of support. This is not the case with an orthopedic support.
Taxonomy Of Athletic Tape
Athletic tapes fall into two primary subcategories – Elastic & Non Elastic. Both of these sub categories have an adhesive backing. The purpose of this backing is to help them to adhere directly to the skin or to other materials such as pro wrap.
Non Elastic Athletic Tape
This subcategory (as its name implies) does not have elastic properties. As a result, it does not conform readily to highly contoured areas of the body such as the elbow or the knee.
Although it is generally manufactured in a variety of colors, non elastic athletic tape most commonly appears in the colour white. The most common widths are ½ ,1,1½, 2 and 3 inches while the most popular lengths are 10 and 15 yards.
These athletic tapes are made from cotton and/or polyester and have a zinc oxide adhesive mass backing.
The quality of non elastic athletic tape is a function of:
The number of longitudinal and vertical fibres in its backing. Superior quality tape tends to have 85 or more longitudinal fibres and at least 65 vertical fibres per square inch.
The amount and durability of the adhesive backing. The stronger and more durable the adhesive backing, the greater the support that the tape will provide to injured limbs and soft tissues. A high quality adhesive should also be capable of withstanding the perspiration, moisture and body/joint movements of the athlete while wearing the tape.;
The consistency of the roll tension. This should be fluid and even when the trainer is removing tape from the roll.
An important subcategory of non elastic tapes is “Rigid Tape”. This tape usually comes with a rayon backing for additional stiffness and may use an even more powerful adhesive than normal. It is a popular choice for applications such as McConnell taping. This is a taping technique that mechanically realigns the patella in the trochlear groove to treat patella tracking issues.
Elastic Athletic Tape
This sub category is also commonly referred to as “stretch tape”. It comes in both lightweight and heavyweight versions. The heavyweight version is thicker than the lightweight and has greater tensile strength. As a result, it provides higher levels of support. Many heavyweight elastic tapes require the use of scissors to cut the tape from the roll before application to the body.
Elastic athletic tape comes in 1,2,3 and 4 yard widths and in lengths of 5 yards. The most popular colours are white and black.
The elastic property of this athletic tape subcategory allows it to conform more readily to highly contoured body areas than will non elastic tape.
Elastic athletic tape is usually manufactured from twisted cotton. Like non elastic tape, it has an adhesive backing to attach directly to the skin or to pro wrap.
The quality of these tapes is determined in the same way as described above for non elastic tapes.
Athletic tapes are usually used for the following purposes:
To provide support to injured limbs or soft tissues or to reduce the range of motion of injured joints. This is done in order to allow uninterrupted healing or rehabilitation of existing injuries;
To proactively support or reduce the range of motion of injured joints or tissues in order to help prevent injury;
Secure elastic wraps against the body as part of the prevention, treatment or rehabilitation of an existing injury;
To secure protective pads to the body in order to reduce the potential trauma from a hard blow;