Whether during training or on the actual game day, the risk of injury never goes away. Some of the more common issues that athletes go through are pulled muscles and tendons, as well as tissue injuries or sprained ankles. These are aches and pains that can be alleviated with sports tape.
However, different sports tapes are used for different reasons. No one wants to end up using the wrong tape for your injury. It can be easy to get confused with the number of tape options to choose from.
Let’s go through what the different types of sports tape are and how to choose the right one for you.
What is a Sports Tape?
A sports tape is a type of athletic tape that can be applied either over a pre-wrapped bandage or directly to the skin. It’s meant to keep your muscles and bones firm and stable to prevent unnecessary strain.
Sports tapes are mainly used when athletes are recovering from an injury when any movement causes not only pain and discomfort but also a delay in the injury’s recovery process.
Types of Sports Tape
With the Sports tape industry becoming increasingly competitive, there is a wide variety of sports tapes available on the market today. These are the two most common types of sports tape out there:
- Elastic Adhesive Bandage
The EAB is usually placed over muscle areas or areas that feature high movements such as hands, fingers, and thighs.
- Rigid Sports Tape
Rigid tapes are mostly used to provide support for joints such as shoulders, knees, and ankles. This is meant to minimize any movement that could potentially cause further strain on the injury.
How to Choose the Best Tape
Before choosing which tape to apply for your injury, it’s important to figure out beforehand what you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to protect, compress, immobilize, or facilitate the injured area?
This is generally the golden rule for choosing a tape:
- Protect – EAB Tape
- Compress – Cohesive Bandage
- Immobilize – Zinc Oxide Tape
- Facilitate – Kinesiology Tape
Once you’ve identified your intended goal, it becomes easier to pick the best tape based on the type of support your injury needs, as well as the stretch of the tape. Here is a more elaborate breakdown of the different goals of sports taping:
When you’re searching for something that can protect another application or equipment that’s already been pre-wrapped to your injury, then it’s better to pick a tape with high stretch properties and low support. The additional stretch is so your muscles can still expand beneath the tape, as well as offer enough flexibility to hold the other equipment in place.
EAB Tapes are ideal for when you need to be moving a lot, with their moderate to high level of stretch. It’s also easy to manipulate this type of tape around the joints without creasing and causing an uncomfortable application.
If your goal is to compress the injured area, then you need a tape that is not only stretchable enough to allow for muscle expansion but also one that is strong enough to not rip easily since you’ll want the tape to be applied with a bit of tension.
The best tape option can depend on various things. But the most important thing is that the tape is able to fulfill its intended purpose.
An adhesive tape like the Tear EAB is typically the better choice if you need to compress something while doing an activity. However, if you’re resting and need to compress an injured area then a Cohesive Bandage is the best option, considering it’s also cheap and reusable.
Zinc oxide tapes are perfect for immobilizing injured muscles with their rigidness, strong adhesion, high tensile strength and ability to perfectly conform to the skin. Because it doesn’t stretch, you’re able to restrict your range of motion and provide support to your injured ligament or muscle. This way, you’re able to prevent any unnecessary strain that might cause the injury to worsen.
If your aim is to facilitate muscle or joint movements, then you would need a tape that has a higher stretch property. Kinesiology sports tapes are the better option for this, especially when it’s about muscle groups.
The Kinesiology tape’s high level of stretch allows you to move freely and not have your movements restricted. It also has extra strong adhesion which means that it can last a lot longer on the skin compared to other types of tape.
There are also other important factors you need to look out for when choosing a sports tape. This includes:
- Ability to provide support
- Its ease of use
- Its breathability
- Its sports tape adhesion
In this case, the price is not a supporting factor since there are a lot of expensive sports tapes available that are incredibly popular and well-marketed but is unable to offer great performance. It’s better to mostly ignore the price of the tapes and focus on the other factors that need to be considered.
Choosing the right kind of tape to use on your injury can literally make or break you. It’s important to pick a sports tape that not only provides good air circulation and is also resistant to most forms of liquids, but also makes you feel comfortable even during the peak of your injury.
There are plenty of sports tapes available out there that are non-porous. These types should be avoided at all costs considering that the most important factor of an effective sports tape is its ability to hold and breathe. When the tape is wrapped too tight, it can result in problems with your circulation and only worsens your injury and puts you at high risk of something more.
If you’re looking for high-quality sports tapes, you can never go wrong with Hampton Adams. They have a wide variety of sports tapes you can choose from, down to the materials and colors.
A decision as seemingly small as this can be the difference between a quick recovery and spending months sitting out and watching from the sidelines.