Sports tape and its many uses
Well, it’s sports tape. It has become an increasingly popular way in which to help with the performance and recovery of an athlete’s body during or after physical activity.
Sports tape is being favoured by athletes and sports therapists because it works with the athletes unique body form. It can be applied to specific areas using particular techniques, which will best benefit that athlete, rather than using a generic compression support, like the ones you can buy in the chemist or supermarket.
To give you some examples, sports tape is predominantly used to help with:
Off loading - by applying tape which is pulled to approx 80% of its full stretch, it allows pressure to be reduced at the origin or insertion point of a muscle, tendon or ligament. When the tape then recoils, it essentially pinches the skin and soft tissues, lifting it away from the bone and thereby relieving the pressure. This is frequently used for conditions such as golfer's or tennis elbow.
Restricting Movement - applying tape to restrict movement is usually done in conjunction with offering support and protecting from further injury. This can be isolated to a specific joint, muscle or tendon/ligament. The level of stretch used when applying the tape will differ depending on the issue area and condition. An example of this kind of application is a sprained wrist or ankle.
Sports tape can also be used to correct or assist movement, whether it’s focused on a joint, the muscles and/or the soft tissues. For example if an individual is becoming increasingly round shouldered and finding it difficult to stand upright and with their shoulders back, long strips of tape can be applied from the shoulder down to the lower back and pelvis with a moderate amount of stretch, to encourage that person correct their posture by standing upright, without having to give it much thought. This is a good example of where, restricting the way in which an individual can use their body, can lead to improved and correct movement.
Reducing Inflammation - when we hurt ourselves, we sometimes get fluid/oedema collecting around the injury itself where tissue becomes inflamed. This is the body's way of protecting itself from further injury - fluid can absorb shock more readily and the swelling itself restricts movement and prevents further use. However, this can be a problem when you want to go about your everyday life or sporting activity. Sports tape can be used to alter the pressure in the injured area, which helps to reduce the amount of inflammation/oedema present. The tape itself is cut into thin straight or zigzag lines part way up, leaving the remaining tape as a solid block you end up with something which resembles an octopus. The octopus head is always applied furthest away from the injury, with the octopus legs being applied directly on the injury. This type of taping is always a popular talking point, due to its novelty!
Although sports tape was initially favoured by professional athletes, it has made its way into physical therapy treatments such as massage therapy, osteopathy and physiotherapy. Sports tape can help to alleviate any aches, pains or restricted movement associated with acute or chronic conditions, regardless of whether the individual is a professional athlete, hobby athlete or has a more sedentary lifestyle. It's an excellent way to help speed up recovery and to minimise any further injury.
If you have any questions about how sports tape may be able to help you, or if you'd like to know more about the subject generally, feel free to ask one of the therapists at the clinic. We look forward to seeing you soon!
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