How to choose the best tape based on stretch

June 28, 2019 3 min read

So you have a good understanding of human anatomy and the structures you wish to tape. But, how do you decide what tape to use to achieve your desired outcome e.g. immobilisation, restriction of motion, or support of a ligament or muscle?

Fundamentally this comes down to two things; the amount of support and degree of stretch a tape can offer.

In this second post we take a look at stretch and explain how this can affect the amount of restriction a tape can provide. You can learn how the support and tensile strength properties of a tape can aid your decision in our previous blog.


Offering protection through a range of movement, or providing compression to a muscle group are the main concerns when deciding on the level of stretch that your tape needs. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need to completely immobilise the area, or still allow some freedom of movement?


  • Do I need to allow for normal muscle contraction, expansion and blood flow beneath the tape?

Once you've decided on the above, you then have a choice to make, between; EAB (Elastic Adhesive Bandage), Cohesive Bandage, K Tape andZinc Oxide Tape.


The more stretchy the tape, the less structural support it can offer to a joint or muscle group, and the more flexibility it will allow for muscle contraction underneath the tape. So if you need to completely immobilise an area, you'll want to pick a tape with no stretch at all.

Zinc Oxide Tapes are completely inelastic and wont stretch either vertically or horizontally. Because of this, they are the go-to tape for completely immobilising joints and should never be used for compression purposes.

We recommend using Zinc Oxide for:


Elastic Adhesive Bandages provide a moderate to high level of stretch, making them perfect for when you need to maintain some freedom of movement, or when compressing a muscle belly. They can also be easily manipulated around joints without creasing for comfortable applications.

There are two types of EAB Tape, EAB and TEAR EAB. EAB has a 125-140% stretch which provides a higher level of support, whereas TEAR EAB will stretch to 150-175% and offers less support. You can read about the support properties of tape and how it affects what tape you want to choose HERE.

As a rule of thumb we recommend using:

  • EAB for joints where you want to control and offer protection through a range of movement (eg restriction of extension in the elbow)
  • TEAR EAB for light support or compressing muscles that will expand during exercise (eg providing compression to a dead leg or holding lifting blocks in place)


Kinesiology Tape provides a high level of stretch (160-180%) and is most often used to provide proprioceptive feedback to muscles. They require a good level of anatomical knowledge and can be applied with or without stretch depending on you application.

Kinesiology Tape and Zinc Oxide Tape can be used very effectively in conjunction. K tape provides the proprioceptive and neuromuscular feedback, whilst Zinc Oxide provides the anatomical correction. Taping over Zinc Oxide with K Tape also helps to waterproof the tape and help the application last much longer.

You can learn more about Kinesiology Tapes, their uses and applications by enrolling on our Fundamentals of K Tape e-course.


Cohesive Bandage offers the highest stretch level of all tapes, making if the best option for providing compression to soft tissue. The extra stretch in the tape means that you can heavily compress a muscle, whilst not restricting blood flow or range of movement.

Cohesive bandages are incredibly light, are self-adhesive and offer very little tensile support, so should not be considered for applications during sporting activities.

As a rule of thumb we recommend using Cohesive Tapes for:

  • Providing compression to soft tissue in a non-sporting environment (eg post-game or when leaving clinic)
  • Providing light, re-useable support to non-weight bearing areas (such as the thumb and fingers)

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