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Could tape help you after injury?
4 facts about taping after injury

Many injuries around the body can benefit from taping techniques. It is a technique loved by some therapists but loathed by others.

The reason for this split is because all too often it is the go-to treatment of choice for every condition, coupled with the fact that sometimes it is the only treatment offered to the patient. When we explore the research base and combine this with expert clinical opinion, it is easy to see that there is little justification for the use of taping techniques in isolation for any condition.

The reason for this is because often the tape is there to facilitate normal movements or avoid painful movements as part of the recovery plan but it does not help to heal the injury quicker and it is not capable of fully reducing re-injury risk.

Here are top four fast facts on taping (be it kinesiotaping or rocktaping or general taping)
Is taping the right choice after an injury?

Q1 Am I allergic to tape?

Allergic reaction to tape can be quite annoying and even worrisome.

If you ever had skin reaction to the adhesive part/sticky plasters before, then please avoid the use of sports tape. If you have tape on you and plan to do exercise/activity where you may perspire or if it's a warm place, then avoid using tape as tape + heat + sweat can lead to skin irritation.

If you're not sure if you're allergic to tape or not, just ask for a small sample of the tape and paste/tape it on for 24 hours as a test, and observe it every hour (or every other hour).

If you develop:

  • itchiness
  • redness
  • or worse, blisters/blotchy skin

...remove the test tape immediately and inform your physiotherapist.

Q2 What type of tape: Kinesio/sports or McConnell?

There are so many tapes available on the market today, but this question covers the basic 2 types of tape:

Kinesio, sports, Rocktape

Sports tape including kinesio and Rocktape have more flexibility, stretch and is usually tape along the length of muscles.

Rigid tape

(also known as McConnell tape) - McConnell tape came about first, it's about stability, structure and all about rigid taping. The tape is firm (little to no stretch), inflexible and applied moreso to joints.

Both have their pros and cons and functions, basically:

  • Rigid McConnell tapes are better to provide firm support to joints
  • Stretchy flexible sports tape work better to support/inhibit muscle movements

So their use depends on event and function.

  • If a player had a recent ankle sprain and is recovering/just recovered, we may then tape the player in a firmer rigid tape to provide a lot more support and stability to their ankle
  • If a player has too weak muscles, the stretchy flexible Rocktape/sports tape can be applied to facilitate more muscle usage (the opposite can also be done)

Q3 Do you really want to introduce ‘stiffness/firmness’ to a joint after injury?

One of the earlier reasons why rigid tape was used (and explained to patient) was that it:

  • brought stability
  • brought stiffness

which work together to protect joints after injuries. This was suggested/thought to aid recovery by limiting movements that may aggravate injury/re-injury.

This is true to a certain extent, and most times, it's applicable to in-game only ie providing additional support to joints WITHIN the context of an event or activity, and once the game or activity is over, the rigid tape needs to be removed as soon as possible as joints need to move to retain its function.

If left for too long, it may:

  • truly facilitate stiffness in joints by shortening structures
  • cause muscle weakness through decreased use

both of which increases risks of injury.

Q4 Taping: Functional and fashionable?

Tape is one of those physiotherapy treatments that will remain fashionable even though it hadn't been proven to be very useful at a high level.

During the Olympics and football events you may see athletes donned with brightly colored tapes which look great on them and we may think that it will help us in:

  • improving our sports game
  • improving our recovery rate
  • looks good on us

Best is you speak to our senior physiotherapist to let them know what you'd like to achieve, and we can assess and come up with a specific therapy goal to bring to as close to your top performance as possible.