Key Tips On Athletic Taping Of The Foot And Ankle
- Volume 19 - Issue 4 - April 2006
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Taping is a critical art as well as a science when it comes to the treatment and prevention of athletic injuries. Taping takes practice, creativity and adaptability. It is a very important part of a sports medicine practice. Not only is taping therapeutic, it can also be diagnostic in the evaluation and treatment of injuries in athletes since the athlete’s response to taping can indicate the effectiveness of orthotics in controlling biomechanical issues.
While taping is not a substitute for a comprehensive rehabilitation program, it is a key element in allowing an athlete to return to activity and prevent further injury.
We utilize taping for injury care and protection. It allows functional movement while limiting excessive motion. Taping stabilizes and supports the injured area and prevents additional injury. Taping also provides proprioceptive feedback. Improper application of tape can lead to blisters, skin irritation and abnormal stress on the affected area as well as an increased risk of injury.
A Guide To The Different Types Of Tape
Athletic tape can be porous or nonporous. Porous tape allows for heat and moisture to pass through and help keep the skin cool and dry. Nonporous tape is more occlusive and increases the potential for skin damage and irritation from friction and heat. An added benefit of porous tape occurs if the tape has to be left on for an extended period of time. For example, a high school athlete who does not have access to an athletic trainer on a daily basis can shower and dry it off with a hair dryer.
Sometimes one may use elastic tape, which allows for muscles to contract without impeding circulation or neurological function. One should stretch the elastic tape one-third to one-half of its elastic capabilities before applying it. If it is too tight, the tape can restrict the function of the body part and lead to discomfort.
No matter what kind of tape one uses, always emphasize monitoring of the taped area for tingling, numbness or impairment of circulation at all times.
Spray tape adherent helps the tape adhere better to the skin and also offers a layer of protection. Be sure to use the spray in a well-ventilated area. While areas such as the Achilles tendon or the dorsum of the foot and ankle may be sensitive to friction, one can protect these areas by adding a pad with lubricant such as petroleum jelly. Clinicians should cover any areas of blisters or open wounds prior to taping.
How To Safeguard Against Skin Irritation And Allergic Reactions
Remind patients that it is best to remove the tape immediately after the sport activity in order to minimize skin irritation. It is important for clinicians to inspect the skin regularly for any signs of irritation or allergic reaction when taping an athlete on a regular basis.
When dealing with an athlete who is sensitive to tape, is taped on a daily basis or is allergic to tape, it is important to use a foam underwrap or prewrap. One should apply underwrap over the skin in a single layer as several layers will increase sweating and moisture retention under the tape. Always ask the athlete about any history of tape irritation or allergies, and beware of the fair skinned athletes.
Nine Key Principles Of Taping
Here are some additional principles of taping that clinicians should keep in mind when working with athletes.
1. Place the foot and ankle in the position it is to be stabilized. Any movement while taping will cause wrinkles and uneven application to the tape.
2. Select the appropriate type of tape for the area and overlap tape at least half the width of the tape below to help prevent irritating the skin from skin separation.
3. To prevent constriction of the area to be taped, be sure to avoid continuous taping whenever possible (or use elastic tape).
4. Always attempt to keep the roll of tape in hand while taping.
5. While applying the tape to the skin, smooth and mold it (I use my thumbnail) to avoid wrinkles or excessive pressure over prominent areas.
6. Apply the tape firmly and with a purpose. Don’t just lay it on the skin but fit the contour of the skin with the pull in the desired direction in order to control the motion in that area.
7. Begin taping with an anchor piece, which will serve as a substrate to attach strips to, and finish with a lock strap to secure the tape job.