Sports taping techniques are often used in sports to support weak or injured joints. We have a number of strapping and taping tutorial videos to help with treating common injuries, such as shin splints, ankle sprains, knee joint injuries, shoulder, and elbow problems.
On this page:
- Introduction to Sports Taping
- Principles of Sports Taping
- Foot Taping
- Ankle Taping
- Shin Taping
- Knee Taping
- Back & Neck
- Wrist & Hand
Introduction to Strapping and Taping
Why do we use tape?
Strapping and taping are used a lot in sport. Athletes like to use it, especially on their ankles, knees, and shoulders if they want to give a bit of extra support. It is used on a daily basis by professional athletes and amateur athletes. We would use taping to support joints, ligaments, and muscles. Sometimes we might use it to offload them or to encourage the muscles or tendons to work, so there are very different reasons to use taping, but generally, it is to support a structure that has been injured.
Principles of Sport Taping
Sports taping techniques all follow the same basic principles. It is important to understand the specific movement that needs to be restricted and the anatomy of the joint involved.
Anchor points will be applied so that support strips have a fixed point to attach to. If the anchor points go around muscle then they will need to be applied with elastic tape to allow expansion of muscles as blood flow during exercise increases.
Supporting strips of tape will usually need to be nonstretch tape to give the support required, however, Achilles tendon taping is one exception as anchors which go round muscle need to have some stretch to allow for expansion of the muscle as it fills with blood during exercise.
Select from the links below to view videotaping tutorials for the following sports injuries:
Plantar Fasciitis Taping
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue forming part of the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis taping is excellent for relieving pain under the heel from Plantar fasciitis or from a plantar fascia strain. It works by supporting the arch of the foot and unloading some of the strain on the plantar fascia allowing the tissues to heal. It may need to be applied regularly until symptoms resolve but many people notice an immediate improvement.
Support strips of non-stretch tape are applied to the arch of the foot to support the injured tissue.
Prevention is the best cure for blisters. This simple use of sports tape can protect ‘hot spots’ on the foot and toes where friction will eventually cause blisters. Usually, just a few strips of carefully placed zinc oxide tape could save a lot of pain.
First, place small strips around the toes and try not to get the ends of the tape between the toes, as they may rub and come loose.
Then place two strips along the instep of the foot, some people prefer not to overlap the tape at all, so see what works best for you.
Finally, place two or three strips across the back of the heel, trying to avoid creasing where possible.
Turf Toe Taping
Turf toe is a sprain of the joint at the base of the big toe (MTP joint or metatarsophalangeal joint) caused when the toe is bent upwards too far. The aim of sports taping is to protect the joint by preventing the painful range of movement at the injured joint.
Place an anchor around the middle of the foot. It’s very important that you don’t apply too much tension in this part of the foot, because it can be very uncomfortable. Then put an anchor around the base of the first toe, again don’t apply too tight, otherwise, you’ll end up blocking the circulation and the toe will go blue.
Now place some strips of tape underneath the foot to try and stop the toe from pulling upwards. Once you’ve done one, repeat for two more strips so that you have three (unless you have a larger toe, therefore, use more strips if needed). Make sure the tape is across the full base of the toe.
After this is done, you will need to tape the original two anchors back over the previous tape applied. It’s very important you remember the anchors because, if you don’t put the anchors on the strapping becomes ineffective. For the reason that, as soon as you go to move the toe, the strips of tape will come off.
Ankle Sprain Taping
This is used to protect a sprained ankle following injury as well as offer support and give the athlete confidence during rehabilitation. There are many ways to tape for ankle sprains depending on the situation and state of injury.
Stage 1 – The figure of 8 strapping is the first and probably least supportive stage of ankle strapping. It aims to protect either the lateral ligaments on the outside or the deltoid ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
Stage 2 – Stirrups provide additional lateral (sideways) support and protection.
Stage 3 – Heel lock provides even greater support on top of the previous stages.
Stage 4 – Basketweave taping is the most supportive of all of the ankle strapping techniques. It supports the lateral ligament complex on the outside and the deltoid ligament complex on the inside.
Achilles Tendon Taping
A simple Achilles tendon taping technique can be used to take the strain off a painful Achilles Tendon, allowing it to rest more easily, especially, if you have to be on your feet.
Taping for the Achilles is best done when the leg and foot are completely relaxed. You will need to apply 2 anchors of tape to start with, one being at the top of the calf and another around the bottom of the foot.
You will then apply two strips of tape, going from the bottom of the foot to the other anchor at the top of the calf. Once this is done, with not too much tension, you then apply a strip around the top of the ankle to solidify the tape, ensuring that it doesn’t bow.
Shin Splints Taping
A simple sports taping technique can instantly relieve shin pain located on the inside lower part of the shin. It provides support for the muscles of the lower leg by pulling the soft tissues towards the bone.
Strap tape at the front of your shin, towards the bottom (as seen in the image to the right) and wrap around the rear of lower leg, moving upwards as you wrap around, as well as pulling towards the outside of the shin, bringing it back around to the front. Repeat this once more (double the layer of tape) for more stability to the shin.
When taping, if you have hair on your leg you will either need to shave your leg so that the tape does not fall off or apply some adhesive spray.
Anterior Compartment Syndrome Taping
Support taping for the outside of the shin to help relieve pain from anterior compartment syndrome.
This technique is exactly the same to Shin Splints Taping, although this is done by pulling the tape from the outside of the shin to inside of the leg, giving the anterior compartment support. As opposed to inside to outside.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Sprain
The aim of anterior cruciate ligament injury taping (ACL) is to support and protect the knee following an injury to the ACL, especially, if the athlete has an unstable knee or laxity in the joint. Tape will provide support and may also be useful to protect the area when gradually returning to full fitness.
Medial Knee Ligament Sprain
Support taping to protect the ligaments on the inside of the knee.
For this taping technique, you need to strap two anchors of tape, to begin with, above the knee and below the knee. Preferably, one at the top of the shin and the other on the lower thigh. You will then apply zinc oxide tape and crossover around the knee from right to left and bottom to top. Repeat this on the reverse side and complete the whole process twice. Once completed, finish off by applying an elastic adhesive bandage over the top of the tape, surrounding the knee.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament Sprain
Taping to support the posterior cruciate ligament, which is placed at the back of the knee.
This taping technique is identical to the one above (see video). It is a general knee taping technique that will help relieve knee pain for many of these similar injuries.
Osgood Schlatter Disease & Jumper’s Knee
A simple knee taping technique which is used in the treatment of patella tendon injuries. Taping Osgood Schlatters is a great way to relieve symptoms and help the athlete in their transition from injury back to normal function. The aim of this taping is to provide support to the patella tendon and take some of the stress of the tendon insertion into the shin bone (tibia).
Tape needs to be 3.8 cm (1.5 inch) non-stretch zinc oxide tape or 5 cm (2 inch) elastic tape. Some athletes may prefer one, some the other depending on the amount of support required. The elastic tape may be more comfortable in some cases as it allows for muscles to expand during exercise.
Sit the athlete on the floor with the knee bent to 90 degrees. A small amount of underwrap may be applied around the knee for comfort and to stop the tape pinching. Or if the leg is particularly hairy then it may be best to shave the leg where the tape will be applied.
Starting on the outside of the leg pass the tape just under the lower pole (bottom) of the patella and around the back of the knee. As the tape passes around the front of the knee the seconds time it is twisted to give extra support. Continue wrapping the tape around the knee a couple of times. Apply one final wrap around the knee without twisting the tape as it passes under the patella.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome & Chondromalacia Patella
Taping to control the position of the patella. By taping, you are encouraging the patella to adjust to a more comfortable position. The patella can be tilting in various directions when painful, so it’s important to identify which way hurts so that you know where to put the tape to support the patella.
It’s good to use ‘hyperfix’ or something similar, as a base for the tape to grip on to. Use strips of tape to just cover the main area of the knee, helping guide the patella to a more comfortable position.
Thigh & Groin Taping
Hamstring Strain Kinesiology Taping
Kinesio-taping (K-Taping) to aid healing and rehabilitation of hamstring strains.
Prepare 3 pieces of tape that size up to the length of the hamstring you’re putting it on. Be aware that clothes can ruffle the tape and cause it to roll up, which ultimately loses the effect of the taping technique, so make sure the ends of the tape are firmly applied. You will need to activate the glue once applied, so make sure you give the tape a smooth rub to ensure that it has firmly attached to the skin.
Groin injury support strapping or wrap which provides support and protection to the groin area following a groin strain or similar injury.
You will need to use an elastic adhesive bandage, making sure that you’re applying it straight onto skin, for better adhesion.
Start at the middle of the thigh muscle, wrap around the thigh moving upwards 3 times as you move up into the groin area. Then pass the bandage around the lower back, ensuring the tape is on hip bone on the far side, then bring the bandage back around to the front, across the lower abdomen and back around the thigh to finish.
Back & Neck
Kinesiology Taping for Low Back Pain
K-taping technique to help relieve lower back pain.
AC Joint Sprain
Acromioclavicular joint taping to support the joint, aid healing and prevent long-term deformity of the shoulder.
Introduction to Wrist Taping
Sports physiotherapy consultant Neal Reynolds explains the principles of wrist taping. How the tape is applied will depend on the specific injury that has occurred. Before starting it is a good idea to get to know the specific range of movement at the wrist which we aim to restrict.
Quick Wrist Taping Technique
A wrist taping technique for generalized wrist pain, if you’ve sprained your wrist and you want something quick and easy. So, what you’re doing is looking for the bony points that are here and at the base of your hand, and then there’s this soft fleshy bit in-between.
And all you do is place some zinc oxide tape around the wrist, with a little bit of tightness on it. Now you’ll have to just try this trial and error, because you don’t want swelling into the hand, and you don’t want any kind of pins and needles in the hand, or them going blue, or anything like that, but what you want is to have a little bit tighter than normal around this area here, so when they go to move the wrist it actually prevents it from moving.
It’s quick and easy you could do it yourself and, as I say, it just stops the wrist from moving too much. And all you’ve got to do is keep an eye on the hand to make sure you don’t get, as I said, the swelling or the pins and needles or the change of colour from compressing the vessels too much at that point. That’s a quick and easy way of trying to minimize wrist pain.
Hand & Finger Taping
Finger Buddy Taping
Support taping for sprained fingers.
Finger Sprain Taping
Protects the mtp joint at the base of the finger.
Finger Flexion Taping
Prevents the finger bending.
Support taping to protect the joint at the base of the thumb.