Wondering what tape to use?
Here’s the scenario – you have a player who has sprained their ankle and wants to play this weekend but they want to avoid further damage so they have asked you to strap them up. You look in the medical bag and there is a multitude of different styles, sizes and colours of strapping tapes. What tape do you possibly choose? What will work the best? What will give the best protection?
A small disclaimer here – Applying the tape the wrong way or application of the wrong strapping or tape on a significant injury could cause permanent damage so you always want to be confident that you are not dealing with a complicated case!!
Here is a helpful guide to give a bit more information around the different types of tape we use here at Sport Strapping NZ.
Rigid Tape (also known as Zinc Oxide Tape)
Rigid tape has a strong zinc oxide based adhesive and is made of non-stretchy cotton or rayon. It is the most commonly used tape and its inelastic nature helps to restrict movement. Rigid tape works best in situations where you want to immobilise the joint and need the strapping to be really secure and stable.
Elastic Adhesive Bandage
Elastic Adhesive bandage (EAB) is exactly as it says it is – elastic so it provides less support than the rigid tape. This type of tape can come in many different types but is designed to compress and support for strains, pulls and soft tissue injuries.
Because it has a small amount of give due to its elastic nature, it provides really good support for joint sprains without being too restrictive, but is also super comfortable. It also unrolls pretty smoothly and fits to the curves of joints like the shoulder pretty well.
EAB Lite is one of my favourite tapes due to its versatility. This is lighter weight than traditional EAB, and can be torn by hand making it easier and quicker to apply pitch side. It has a high elastic component so is really stretchy and can be used for anything from minor support, as a compression wrap, securing dressings and even holding up ice packs!
EAB Lite is commonly used to finish off a tape job as its lightweight so it doesn’t bulk up and it can be ripped off easily with your hands – no extra tools required!
Underwrap (pre-taping and fixation)
Underwrap can come in a number of different forms but the main purpose is to protect the skin from the tape and also minimise the pain when you take it off! I often refer to it as Fixomull or Hyperfix which is the brand name of the white hypoallergenic ‘fixation’ tape that is used in our videos. The other form is the pre-taping underwrap which is a soft non-adhesive lightweight foam material that is wrapped over the area under the tape prior to strapping.
There is so much information about Kinesiotape that it requires a whole separate post on its own! Which will be coming at a later date. In a nutshell, Kinesiotape is basically designed as a tape that we stick to the body specifically to enhance the movement of muscles. We use this as a recovery tape, to reduce swelling, over areas of tightness, to improve movement patterns, coordination or balance.
Kinesiotape is NOT useful with what we mostly want tape to do that that is to minimise movement of a joint.
In conclusion, selecting the right kind of tape can make or break you (literally!). It is important to choose the right tape for the job so think about what you want to achieve by strapping before you even start. Incorrect tape choice or incorrect strapping techniques can put you at more risk of injury so it pays to know as much as you can about what you’re doing before you get started.