Do you brace or do you tape? What do you think is the best way to protect an injury when returning to sport?
Most people have a preference, whether they use a brace or strapping tape when protecting an old injury. Some swear by one or the other. Some people even do both. But what does the research say?
Most studies have looked at ankle injury prevention as this is one of the most common sporting injuries. Simple sprains of the ankle are most common overall. In the case of ankle injuries both taping and bracing were found to be of similar benefit in preventing re-injury. In terms of cost however, bracing was significantly (3 times) cheaper than taping in the long term.
Taping knee injuries is less clear. There is very strong anecdotal evidence for various types of taping, especially around protecting ligament injuries and some tracking problems in the kneecap, but the evidence in the literature is unclear. Unfortunately many sports exclude all but the simplest of knee braces to prevent injury to other players.
There are some simple guidelines that are worth following if you do decide to use strapping tape.
• Placing the athlete in an appropriate position.
• Appropriate selection of:
o A comfortable table height and position that is appropriate for the health care provider to minimise strain and fatigue.
o Type and width of the tape. • Application of tape:
o To a dry and clean area and at body temperature.
o Immediately after cryotherapy or hydrotherapy is to be prevented.
• Taping should be:
o Prevented at the site of perspiration.
o Applied directly on skin or on under-wrap.
o Done on skin with the tape adherent to prevent slippage.
• Areas subjected to friction blisters should be covered with protective pads or under-wraps.
• While applying tape, the following should be kept in mind:
o It should be firm, yet smooth and wrinkle free
o There should not be impairment of normal circulation, normal movement of muscles and tendons present underneath the tape.
o Avoid pressure on bony prominences.
o Any tingling, numbness, decreased tactile sensations or impaired distal venous return should be monitored and taken care of immediately, if noted.
• The tape is to be broken or torn in an extended or stretched fashion to avoid folded edges
• Removal of tape should be done following the proper methods by using tape cutters and specially designed scissors
• The skin has to be cleaned adequately of the tape residue
• Any blisters or skin abrasions, if noted, should be taken care of immediately
At Northside Sports Medicine we have access to a wide range of braces for acute and long term injury protection. We also stock a variety of sizes of rigid tape as well as kinesiotape (rock tape).