by Annaliese Gardiner
Taping, also known as strapping, is used by physiotherapists to help injuries recover. It is used to:
- compress an area to reduce excessive swelling, for example, as part of the RICE regime of caring for acute injuries, where C stands for compression
- provide support to weak or injured structures, for example, taping the foot arch in plantar fasciitis
- help your brain perceive where your joint is in space – this is called proprioceptive input
- assist muscles to work better, for example when a muscle is injured dynamic tape can be applied to do some of the work
- improve or retrain good posture
As you can see, taping may be used in many different ways to achieve different outcomes. For this reason there are different tapes available on the market that have been produced for different purposes.
Types of Tape
The types we use in our practice include:
1. Dynamic tape – which stretches to allow some movement
2. Rigid tape – which is firm and supportive, with virtually no stretch
3. Fixomull tape – which is applied underneath rigid taping to protect the skin
- 1. The skin should be dry and clean
- 2. Hair should be removed
- 3. The body part should be relaxed during application, otherwise the tape may be too tight
As the tape is applied directly to the skin to work properly, some more sensitive skin types may experience a reaction.
Some of the signs you may notice that indicate a skin reaction include:
• red or itchy skin
• dry and scaly skin
• skin that stings
• skin that becomes overly sensitive
Should any of these reactions occur, it is important to remove the taping immediately.
Is The Taping Too Tight?
It is important to act if the tape is too tight. Taping can become too tight in the instance of increased swelling to the area, which is common in acute injuries over the first 24-48 hours.
If you start to notice any tingling or numbness or if the skin is bulging or the tape is cutting in or causing discomfort, this is an indication that the taping is too tight. If this occurs, remove the tape immediately in the manner outlined.
Taping should last and still be effective for approximately 3 days. Dynamic tape can even last for up to a week.
DO NOT LEAVE TAPING ON FOR LONGER THAN INSTRUCTED AS THIS WILL INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF A SKIN REACTION.
Removing the tape is easily done with water, such as in the shower, as the tape loses some of its stickiness when wet and is less likely to irritate the skin underneath.
Once the tape is wet, slowly peel it off as you press down on the surrounding areas of skin. Clean off any sticky residue with tea tree oil or nail polish remover. Do this gently and avoid vigorous rubbing. After removal of the tape, keep perfumed moisturisers off the area. Always remove tape the night before coming for your next treatment, as this helps the skin to recover and allows us to re-tape if necessary.