How to Use Athletic Tape

By Sam Feeder , last updated December 15, 2011

Knowing how to use athletic tape effectively will allow athletes to prevent injuries while they play sports or allow them to continue playing after they have had minor injuries. Athletic tape is heavy duty tape that is made to be wrapped around people's joints, like their ankles and wrists. Acting as a sort of pliable cast that steadies these injured or injury prone areas on a player, athletic tape also allows movement during play. A lot of teams and athletic trainers rely on athletic tape to help prepare their athletes for important games late in a season or in the playoffs. Knowing how to use it correctly is key to both a player's health and confidence in their play in the the sport.

Types of Ankle Tape
Ankle tape comes in a number of different brands and colors, but the most common type that is used is white athletic tape that is 1.5 to 2 inches in width, porous and non-elastic. It is very sticky as well, so that it will hold under the extreme strain that it will face while wrapped around an athlete's ankle or wrist while they play a sport as hard as they possibly can. The athletic tape must also be able to withstand water, as sweating is an inevitability when playing sports.
Preparing the Area to be Taped
Before taping any area of the body with athletic tape, it's a good idea to prep it. This means shaving all of the hair off the area so that the sticky tape doesn't rip out the hairs when you remove it later. So shave off all the hair in the particular area as best you can, then clean the skin assuming you want to apply the tape directly to the skin. If you don't want to shave off all the hair, apply what is known as a prewrap, which is a piece of foam or gauze that will be placed under the athletic tape. Many athletes prefer the tape to be directly against their skin, so the wrap can't move when they move.
When wrapping the ankle or wrist or any other part of an athlete's body with athletic tape, make sure that part of the body is in the neutral position, or the position it will be in when you are at rest. For an ankle it will be at ninety degrees, as it is when you are standing up. For a wrist, it is the position it is in when hanging at your side. The athletes should relax the area that is going to be taped as best they can and the tape should then be applied.
How to Wrap
Wrap the athletic tape so that it overlaps slightly on the edges and holds together when the athlete moves. It should be tight but not too tight, as this can cut off circulation and cause more damage than good for the athlete. However, the tightness varies based on the injury, as some tape jobs are meant to keep an ankle or wrist from moving much at all, so as to prevent further injury.
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