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Athletic Tape Usage & How to Do It Correctly

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Why Use Tape?

Athletic tape can be used for a variety of tricks to support muscles throughout the body. There are different opinions about how and why tape works, but it started to limit muscle movement and help with proprioception, the body’s innate ability to tell where the limbs are positioned. Athletes would feel the tape on their bodies when they moved particular muscles and understand which were related to their injuries. Presently, athletic tape can be used for a variety of fixes and needs.

What Kinds Are There?

  • Rigid tape: this is stiff material that reduces joint movement, has little give, and includes zinc-oxide based glue which is strong and adheres to skin well.
  • Under tape: this goes under rigid tape and is nicer to skin.
  • Elastic tape: this offers flexibility and can be applied to skin, muscles, and soft tissues; it’s usually made of cotton and lets skin breathe.
  • Felt tape: this acts as a barrier to skin, includes no glue, and is usually more comfortable.
  • Cohesive bandages: these don’t have any glue in them; they stick to each other when they're wrapped around a joint or muscle.
  • Kinesio-type tape: this is most common for sports; it adjusts to the skin and accommodates movement.

What Should I Use it For?

Some common uses for tape are:

  • Stabilizing ankles
  • Supporting knees
  • Solidifying shoulders
  • Opening elbows
  • Supporting weak or injured muscles
  • Improving muscle contraction
  • Preventing overuse

How Do I Use It?

Make sure skin is clean and free of topical injuries or conditions like eczema. Position the tape as directed by your athletic trainer and reinforce with protective padding if necessary. Tape position largely depends on the particular muscle being taped. Ensure that the tape goes on smoothly and is not so tight that circulation is cut off. If the individual is experiencing a “pins and needles sensation,” it may be too tight. If this is the case, remove the tape by cutting it off and begin again with a longer piece.

How Do I Take it Off?

Cut tape off with scissors instead of ripping it off in long pieces; your skin will thank you, regardless of the type of tape. Be sure to remove tape before it becomes less than appealing. Over time, tape loses its adhesive and may turn colors depending on the amount of sweat, dirt, and debris on the skin.

Things to Remember

Apply tape only to healthy skin. Avoid sunburns, skin with lotion on it, and areas that wrinkle, like hands and feet. Consider tape part of your regular routine rather than a magic fix for screaming muscles. Utilize the right kind of tape for your particular need. Remember that muscles require rest, and that overexerted muscles, even if taped, can become injured with improper form.

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