How to choose the best tape for support?

June 27, 2019 2 min read

How to choose the best tape for support?

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. immobilization, 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 first post we take a look at support and explain the properties of each tape so you can use them to best affect. You can learn how the stretch properties of a tape can aid your decision in our next blog.

SUPPORT

Providing support is most often the primary reason for taping, so we will start here. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need to fully 'lock-down' an area to prevent movement completely (immobilise)?

Or

  • Do I need to restrict a range of motion (reduce flexibility)?

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


ZINC OXIDE TAPES

These are the go-to tapes for providing the highest level of support.They are completely inelastic and wont stretch either vertically or horizontally. This makes them perfect for supporting joints by immobilising or restricting movement.

There are two types of Zinc Oxide Tape, one made from natural cotton and the other from a Rayon (a man made fiber). Zinc Oxide Tan typically has a tensile strength at least 50% stronger than Zinc Oxide white, which also makes it more expensive. So you can base your decision on what you're taping, as well as your budget.

As a rule of thumb we recommend using:


EAB & TEARABLE EAB

Elastic Adhesive Bandages are ideal for providing lighter levels of support, or when some flexibility is needed in the application. You can read about the benefits of tape stretch and how it affects what tape you want to choose HERE.

EAB tapes are stretchy, so can be more easily manipulated around joints and muscle groups, but need to be applied under more tension and use more tape in order to restrict movement.

There are two types of EAB Tape, EAB and TEAR EAB - both made from latex-free woven cotton. EAB has a higher tensile strength and impossible to tear by hand, whereas TEAR EAB is much lighter and offers the lowest level of support, but the ability to tape fast.

As a rule of thumb we recommend using:

  • EAB as a flexible alternative to Zinc Oxide where a high level of support is needed (eg restricting range of motion in the ankle)
  • TEAR EAB for light support or covering Zinc Oxide applications (eg overlaying a Zinc Oxide application around the knee)


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