Sports taping is the practice of wrapping supportive tape around areas of the body during sport or physical activities to protect them from injury or aid recovery from a previous injury.
The primary purpose of tape application is to provide additional support, stability, and compression for the affected body part. Through proper application, sports taping can shorten the muscle’s angle of pull; decrease or promote joint range of motion; secure pads, bandages, and protective devices; as well as apply compression to control swelling.
Other than providing stability to unstable joints by limiting excessive movements, sports taping can also help to prevent injuries by enhancing proprioceptive feedback.
Generally, two types of sports taping techniques are practised:
- Rigid Taping: This form of taping uses white or brown rigid tape and may require a pre-wrap prior to application. It is used mainly to restrict certain aggravating movements at a joint so as to reduce pain during activities. It is normally left on for a short period of time, typically applied immediately prior to an activity and taken off immediately thereafter. Rigid taping can improve the biomechanics of the patient and is useful for neuromuscular re-education of the affected condition.
- Kinesiology Taping: This requires the use of special stretchy tapes which stretches in one direction and but not the other. It is a therapeutic taping technique that offers the individual support while rehabilitating the affected area at the same time. It allows full range of movement and can be applied for longer periods of time, usually between 3 to 5 days. The stretchy nature of the tape creates a bio-mechanical lifting mechanism that lifts the skin away from the soft tissue underneath, which allows more blood to move into an injured area to accelerate healing.