When it comes to tape, taping and strapping, things can get a little confusing due to the sheer number of different tapes on the market, application methods, reported effects, when to use them, etc.
This blog aims to shed some light on four of the most common tapes out there by describing what they are, why you’d use each them and at what times to use them.
First up, Leukotape
- Used for stabilising joints following injury or during rehabilitation to prevent reoccurrences.
- Also used to offload painful structures such as irritate knees or hips.
- This is a non-stretchy, 100% rigid tape that will cause a decrease in range of motion when applied correctly.
- It has a high adhesive strength which allows it to stick well to skin, and even better to hyperfix (white underlay).
- It’s 100% cotton which makes it skin-friendly, handy for hikers or runners looking to avoid blisters.
- Drawbacks: non-elastic and range limiting.
Zinc Oxide Tape
- Similar to Leukotape, this white tape offers a little more comfort but with the same rigid properties.
- Used to protect and stabilise joints for injury prevention.
- Lighter and less bulky than a brace, this tape will conform to the shape of a joint to provide support.
- Very popular in climbers to protect the joints of the hand and fingers.
- Drawbacks: restrictive, range limiting and ineffective if used on oily or sweaty skin.
Kinesiology Tape (K Tape)
- A popular cotton-based, water-resistant tape with various effects on the applied tissues.
- This is the colourful tape you often see on athletes or sports people.
- Lymphatic effects: creates a vertical lift from underlying tissues which decompresses the space between the skin and the muscles. This facilitates blood flow, fluid drainage (management of bruising) and the removal of pain-
- provoking chemicals from injured tissues.
- Mechanical effects: longitudinal stretch of up to 180% provides stability and elastic resistance to muscles, ligaments and tendons.
- Neurological effects: creates a stimulus on the skin that reduces pain signals received by the brain (pain-relief). The vertical lift will also reduce pressure on free nerve endings to help reduce pain levels.
- Drawbacks: can cause skin irritation if applied incorrectly. Can occasionally cause allergic skin reactions. Application can be complex. Research on the effectiveness of this tape is inconclusive.
- A synthetic material (nylon and lyrca) with 4-way stretch.
- Strong elastic properties make this the ultimate biomechanical tape, with stretch capabilities of up to 200% of it’s resting length.
- Great adhesion means it will last longer, even when worn during vigorous exercise or in the shower.
- When applied correctly this tape will offload injured tissues and offer elastic resistance when performing exercise.
- This purely biomechanical, load-absorbing tape reduces the force on injured tissues, assists weak muscles, provides support during eccentric loading and improves movement patterns.
- This tape can also lift the skin if applied accordingly, to facilitate the removal of bruises or relieve tension on underlying structures.
- Drawbacks: can cause skin irritation and the stronger dynamic tape (eco tape) can reduce mobility quite considerably.
So, in a nutshell……
- Opt for Leukotape or Zinc Oxide to immobilise and protect joints, the latter offering slightly more comfort but being less durable.
- Choose K Tape for its range of potential effects, but remember that it lacks strong elastic properties to facilitate movement with any real support.
- If you need strong, elastic support choose Dynamic Tape. It can be applied in a number of ways to work just as muscles do, which supports tissues and improves movement patterns.
If you have any doubt on the application or desired effects of taping, make an appointment to see one of our team at our clinic in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire. Just give us a call on 023 8025 3317.