As an athlete, you know that injuries are an unfortunate risk that comes with high-intensity training and competition. From a sprained ankle on the running track to tennis elbow on the tennis court, injuries can sideline you when you least expect it. That's why sports taping is such a vital tool for athletes in any sport, even children!
Many people mistakenly think tape should only be applied after injury but this is not true. Proper sports taping provides support and stability to vulnerable joints and muscles. Taping can both help prevent injuries and support existing injuries during activity. While the basics of taping may be similar across sports, there are unique considerations and techniques for taping different body parts depending on your sport. Let's explore some of the most effective sports taping methods for common sports injuries.
For ankle injuries, tape is crucial for footballers, runners, and other athletes who put repetitive stress on their ankles. At Lodge Sports and Remedial Massage, I use soft fabric sports tape rather the rigid tape. Taping provides structure and stability to the joint, preventing the ankle from rolling. Applying strips of tape in a figure-8 pattern around the ankle to reinforce the joint along with horseshoe strips up the ankle can comprehensive restricts range of motion (over-extension can cause injury) while still allowing flexion and extension.
Shoulder taping is common in swimmers, tennis players, and other overhead athletes. The rotator cuff area is vulnerable to strains and inflammation. Start shoulder taping by using strips to anchor the top of the shoulder and upper arm. Use circular strips around the shoulder joint to compress and support the joint capsule. If required, specialized rigid tape could be used here to provide maximum stability, before finishing with strips in a web pattern covering the rotator cuff muscles to provide compression. This taping technique stabilizes the shoulder joint and decreases impingement.
For tennis elbow, tape is applied to reduce strain on the elbow joint and forearm extensor muscles. Here, taping would start by applying circular strips around the elbow joint for compression. Use diagonal strips up and down the forearm to reduce tension on the extensor muscle groupm and finishing with a horseshoe strip around the upper forearm below the elbow. This taping method relieves stress at the elbow joint while still allowing a full range of wrist motion.
Knee taping can be used by soccer players, skiers, and other athletes to prevent ACL tears and patellar dislocations. In this case, with soft tape, a "basket" is formed around the patella to hekp stablise it's tracking. Further tape can be applied along either side of the knee if necessary. The goal is to provide structure while still allowing free flexion and extension.
As you can see, sports taping techniques vary significantly based on the unique anatomical demands of different sports. While it is possible to tape yourself, it is best to have taping carried out by a professinal, as incorrect taping can alter movement patterns resulting in decreased performance and potentially compensatory injury.
Proper taping before activity can prevent injuries and support existing conditions. When combined with treatments like sports massage, RAPID NeuroFascial Reset, injury rehabilitation, and holistic modalities, taping allows athletes to perform at their best. As a BTEC Level 5 Soft Tissue therapist trained in the use of taping, I can help yuo learn the techniques specific to your sport. With the right taping approach, you’ll be back on the field in no time!