A couple of common questions we get asked as Physio’s are about taping. What tape is good for what? how long should I leave the tape on? can I get it wet and how tight is too tight?
In this blog, I will address all these questions and then we will embark on an educational video series for basic taping strategies you can do yourself.
Tape comes in all kinds of varieties now, different colours, stretchy, rigid, wide and skinny.
Generally speaking there are two types of tapes; Rigid and Elastic.
Rigid Tape is your old school sports tape, which is used specifically to reduce or limit a joint’s range of motion in order to protect a certain structure or direction of movement.
Elastic comes in two sub-types; Elastic and Kinesio.
Elastic has a small amount of stretch and is commonly seen on the sporting field over a thumb, knee or shoulder. It is usually used in conjunction with rigid tape to allow some movement while maintaining an element of joint protection.
Kinesio is very stretchy, with some variants stretching up to 100% its initial length. Kinesio or K-Tape also comes in lots of different colours and brands. Rocktape is a common type of K-Tape. K-Tape is used to decrease pain, facilitate or inhibit muscle action. Due to its significant elasticity K-Tape will not be great at limiting range of motion.
Tape should be left on in accordance with your Physiotherapist; however, a general rule of thumb is no longer than 5 days. Rigid tape is usually 1-3 days and K-Tape is slightly longer at 3-5 days. If your tape at any point becomes significantly painful or you think you are having an allergic reaction, contact your Physiotherapist immediately.
K-Tape can get wet, most brands of this type of taping are water resistant NOT proof. Meaning a little bit of water, you can pat dry, allow to fully dry and it should be ok. Rigid tape will really depend on the type of taping down. Anything around the foot or ankle tends to hold on quite well through a quick shower.
The tightness of tape
As my patients leave the consultation after just having taped them I tell them it’s meant to feel slightly tight at this point. This is because over the next 30 minutes it will slightly loosen off. If it was perfect as they leave it would be too loose in 30 minutes. If you find your tape is too tight even after an hour or so please contact your Physio. It is common to feel slight pain after an injured area is taped, it is also normal to feel a slight heartbeat. It is NOT normal to go numb or lose blood flow in the area past the tape.
Thanks for your time and keep an eye out for our instructional videos to follow. As always if there are any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via our social media accounts, email or via phone.
Yours in Health,
Julian, Hadyn and the Sportreat team.