Strapping, who doesn’t love a bit of tape, so many different types and oh so colourful! But should we be using strapping, when is it appropriate and when is it not.
So, when you have someone call up and ask for a taping appointment, what do you think? I immediately think, why do they need tape? I would encourage them to come in for a joint assessment, firstly so I can assess the joint and tailor my strapping technique to the issue, this would also allow me to find out why they feel they need tape in the first place.
To my mind there are only a few scenarios when tape is useful.
Firstly – You have a client who has damaged their ankle (for example) a few weeks before an important race, you have mostly fixed the issue but have run out of time to complete their rehab, so you know the joint is still weak. Here strapping is completely appropriate, they need a bit of support to get through their race as their ankle isn’t fully strong enough to allow them to compete effectively, but they are strengthening alongside and will continue their rehab after the race.
Secondly – You have a client who does a sport where they add strapping to support themselves for competition to minimise injuries, but are otherwise perfectly strong. So gymnasts, for example, often strap their wrists for competition to give them the extra support, weightlifters often strap their knees to give them that extra bit of support should they need to lift past the level of their usual strength. They only strap for the competition, they don’t train this way.
Thirdly – I would use some of the proprioceptive tapes to help someone who has swelling from an acute injury, or general strapping to assist in the early stages of an injury, I may consider it in someone with poor posture who needs help to change their proprioception.
I would not, however, use tape as a general thing, never to train in, never to rely on. Why? Because if we support a joint, we weaken the joint further, it is as simple as that. If I habitually use tape because I have weak knees, for example, the muscles will always be supported and will, therefore, never need to do their job properly. Over time they will get weaker and weaker until the tape no longer does the job. The answer to this is to strengthen the knees, so the muscles of the knee support them and not the tape. Same with any sort of support strapping, fine to use alongside treatment and strengthening, not appropriate to use long term.
Strength and Conditioning Training is there to strengthen your muscles for the sport you are doing. If I strap my joints to train, I clearly don’t have the inherent strength for whichever sport I am doing. You tend to train at a lower level than you do when you compete, so if you need strapping to train, you probably aren’t ready to complete. Better to take the training level down to a level your body can handle and build the strength to the level you can compete effectively with no external supports. You are far less likely to get injured this way.
Want to use this for CPD?
Imagine this scenario: A weight lifter comes in and asks you to strap their knees for a competition, you delve a little further and ask them how often they use tape, they respond they use it every time they train so their knees don’t hurt them when they deadlift. I can lift more with my knees strapped they say.
What would you say to this client? How can you approach the subject so they don’t get offended? What sort of strength program could you put together to allow them to wean off their reliance to the tape?
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