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Types of Sports Tape and their Uses

Sports tape is often seen across the shoulders, backs, legs, arms and hands of sports players in a wide variety of settings from boxing and rock climbing; to football and rugby; to track and field.

Sports strapping tape is used to provide support to joints and reduce pain and swelling, improving physical activity and allowing athletes to optimise their performance without compromising on safety.

Dependant on the athlete’s needs, different types of sports tape should be used. Some sports tapes are highly flexible and stretchy meaning the wearer is afforded the full range of his or her motion, while others are made from inelastic materials to immobilise joints and give the wearer full protection while in play. 

Some types of tape such as Kinesiology Tape works by lifting the skin to create more space around a joint between the dermis and the muscle. Other types of tape, like Elastic Adhesive Bandage and Cohesive Bandage, provide varied degreed of pressure and compression.

Further to its plethora of physical benefits, sports tape also has a positive psychological effect on the wearer. Taping specific areas of the body can lead to a psychological stimulus that acts to ‘remind’ the wearer of certain actions that need to be performed, such as good posture. The direction of taping can mentally encourage the wearer to perform movements in a certain way. Pain can be reduced psychologically through sensory bombardment, meaning the body is distracted from pain by stimulation in that area.  

Find out about the different types of sports tape and their uses here.

Table of Contents

Cohesive Bandage

Cohesive Bandage is lightweight, easy to apply and hand tearable, making it an ideal choice for on-the-go sports tape.

As a sports tape that can be reapplied and adjusted multiple times with varying tension and pressure, Steroban Cohesive Bandage is extremely versatile and can be found used on the pitch, in physiotherapy sessions, in the hospital, and even in veterinary clinics.

Uses:

  • As a compression over wounds to reduce bleeding (ensure open wounds are dressed first as sports tape should not be applied directly to broken skin)
  • Used in hospitals and veterinary clinics to provide support to fingers, hands and other extremities
  • For connecting and securing club socks and grip socks for the whole duration of a football match
  • To secure dressings in place to keep wounds safe during activity
  • As a compression over sprains and strains to reduce swelling
  • To secure ice packs or heat packs in place
  • Securing shin pads in place
  • To hold dressings in place
  • For taping in a hurry on the go

Features:

  • High levels of flexibility mean cohesive bandage can be applied with varying degrees of tension
  • Self Cohesive bandage sticks to itself and not skin, meaning there is no need for safety pins or tape
  • Tape can be reapplied to adjust compression intermittently
  • Available in 2.5cm, 5cm, 7.5cm and 10cm width rolls
  • Tape is easily torn by hand meaning no scissors are required
  • Available in various colours (to match team kit colours – a requirement for some sports/ competitions)

Elastic Adhesive Bandage (EAB)

EAB strapping tape is most often used for moderate support, where moderate support would be described as in between Kinesiology Tape and Zinc Oxide Tape. EAB, unlike its tearable variant EAB Tearlite, is made from woven cotton cloth for long-lasting strength.

At Sterosport we offer two types of Elastic Adhesive Bandage. EAB Trainer’s Choice is a more elasticated (everyday) bandage best used for flexible support to constantly moving joints, such as elbows and knees. EAB premium is made of more durable material, developed to the highest standards for the healthcare sector. This premium-grade EAB is used for long-term support, a choice for physiotherapists and professional sports athletes alike.

Uses:

  • To provide moderate support to stabilise joints, ligaments and tendons when carrying out vigorous exercise
  • For thumb taping to give thumbs and hands support when lifting weights, and to ease sprained thumbs
  • To protect rugby players’ ears from tears during play, and to prevent Cauliflower Ear, caused by repeated blunt force to the ear in games such as rugby
  • As line out tape in rugby, so that players can execute lifts throughout the match
  • To provide compression to sprains and strains
  • As an anchor for rigid tapes

Features:

  • Versatile and easy to use, the fabric of EAB can be easily manipulated around fingers and other difficult to reach areas
  • The flexible nature of EAB means it can be used as an under-wrap or over-wrap when securing strappings
  • Premium EAB is water repellent meaning bandages are more hygienic and will stay in place for longer
  • Adhesive material sticks to the skin, ensuring the bandage stays in place
  • Easy to unwind and manipulate allowing a controlled application
  • Available in 2.5cm, 5cm, 7.5cm and 10cm width rolls
  • Premium and trainers choice versions available 
  • Soft and comfortable to wear
  • Premium EAB is latex-free

EAB Tearlite

The obvious difference between EAB Tearlite and standard EAB is that Tearlite can be torn by hand and does not require cutting. Because of this, tearable EAB Tape is more versatile and can be used more quickly on the go.

Steroplast EAB Tearlite is particularly useful in competitive environments where fast pitch-side first aid and pre-match taping is required. Physiotherapists are often required to tape several players in a limited amount of time before a game, where speed is essential. 

As a 100% cotton stretch bandage, EAB Tearlite comprises a more lightweight material than standard EAB. It has a ‘crinkled’ texture which helps to keep multiple layers in place on top of one another. 

EAB Tearlite can be used in all the same situations that standard EAB can be used, but Tearlite might be a better option when taping is required on the go, for ultra-quick application.

Features:

  • Versatile and easy to use, the fabric of EAB can be easily manipulated around fingers and other difficult to reach areas
  • The flexible nature of EAB means it can be used as an under-wrap or over-wrap when securing strappings
  • Easy to unwind and manipulate allowing a controlled application and controlled compression
  • Adhesive material sticks to the skin, ensuring the bandage stays in place
  • Available in 5cm and 7.5cm width rolls
  • No need to shave before applying

Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology Tape, or K Tape, is used by athletes and physiotherapists to treat sprains, strains and other muscle and joint ailments in a variety of different sports activities.

Kinesiology Tape benefits joints by lifting the skin and creating space between the dermis layer and the tissues underneath to soothe pain associated with swelling. This increased space also means that the lymphatic system can drain more easily, removing waste and toxins with it to hasten recovery. 

Sterotape-K is a popular choice of sports tape which helps sports people stay active after sustaining an injury. The highly flexible tape can be worn for up to a week after application, supporting an active recovery without affecting the wearers range of movement.

Uses:

  • To provide support to injured muscles and joints by soothing swelling
  • To help inhibit pain during activity and when recovering
  • To aid recovery by increasing blood flow and lymphatic movement
  • To provide light support which encourages the body to move naturally and helps to remind the wearer to exercise with consideration for healing areas. 
  • Can act as a protective barrier and ‘second skin’ if needed
  • To reduce pain by targeting the affected area with sensory bombardment (meaning the body is distracted from pain by another sensation)

Features:

  • K Tape is water repellent meaning it is more hygienic and will stay in place for longer
  • Light support does not restrict movement and provides continuous physical contact to promote good posture and correct technique
  • Can be cut to size to provide targeted support
  • Can adhere to skin for up to 7 days
  • Available in three different colours: blue, red and flesh-coloured
  • Latex-free

Premium Sports Tape

Premium sports tape is a rayon-based ‘P’ tape used by physiotherapists and sports rehabilitators. It is characterised by its powerful rigid hold, making it the first choice for professionals when treating sports injuries that require joints to be immobilised. 

Premium sports injury tape can be used together with dressing retention tape when taping a displaced patella to treat patellofemoral pain. You can buy Sterotape Premium Sports Tape and Sterofix Dressing Retention Tape together in a Sterotape Twin Pack from Sterosport. 

Uses: 

  • To provide total support by immobilising and stabilising weak joints in the finger, hand, ankle, shoulder, knee, wrist and more
  • To provide unwavering support during intensive sports like hockey, football, rugby, combat sports
  • Can be applied as a blister tape that won’t shift on the skin during long-distance hiking and running
  • To keep joints safe during even the most high-stress activity leading to a faster recovery

Features:

  • Medical grade adhesive coating throughout the entire roll of tape means the application will be smooth and seamless
  • Exceptionally strong rayon-based material will keep joints immobilised and secure
  • Adhesive material sticks to the skin and stays in place
  • Available in 3.8cm (tan) and 2.5cm (white) width rolls
  • Can the torn by hand, no scissors required

Zinc Oxide Tape

Zinc Oxide Tape is a robust tape made from non-stretch cotton, meaning it can provide the ultimate support to joints that need to be immobilised. Zinc Oxide Tape gets its name from its skin-friendly Zinc Oxide-based adhesive which helps the tape to stay firmly in place where it is needed. 

Thanks to its strength, Zinc Oxide Tape is the first choice for Climbers, BJJ wrestlers, boxers, and Crossfit athletes, as well as in vigorous sports like football, rugby and cricket.

Sterotape Z.O tape is available in varying sizes meaning it can be used to provide support to fingers & thumbs, as well as larger joints. This makes it an extremely versatile option for preventing sporting injuries in most types of activity.

Uses:

  • To protect fighters hands, wrists and knuckles when training and fighting in boxing, MMA, Muay Thai and many other combat sports
  • Zinc Oxide adhesive is kind to skin but stays in place without shifting despite high-stress activity
  • To protect injured joints from rolling or twisting during activity thanks to zero capacity for stretch
  • Zinc Oxide Tape blister treatment is common in hikers and runners
  • To give support to immobilise and stabilise weak joints of all sizes
  • To protect rock climbers hands and fingers when grappling
  • Some doctors use Zinc Oxide Tape for verruca treatment
  • To protect goalkeepers hands and fingers

Features:

  • Zinc Oxide Tape is durable, breathable and tolerates humid environments making it adaptable and long-lasting
  • Non-stretch cotton material provides rigid support to joints that need to be immobilised
  • Available in 4cm and 5cm width rolls for hands, wrists, ankles and larger joints
  • Available in 1.25cm and 2.5cm width rolls for fingers, thumbs and toes
  • Adhesive material sticks to the skin and won’t shift around
  • Can be torn by hand, no scissors required

Using the wrong type of sports tape won’t just mean missing out on its benefits, you could be at risk of cutting off blood flow to vital areas of the body, or exercising on vulnerable injured joints. If you aren’t sure which type of sports tape you need, get in touch with us at Sterosport. 

If you’re a sports rehabilitator, you can also book a free consultation where we’ll provide you with a free sports tape sample pack worth £30. 

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