What Kind Of Taping Do I Need?

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Taping or strapping is widely used in the sporting community such as sports taping for the ankles, and the effects and roles are widely understood and accepted. In recent years, taping has evolved beyond restricting the range of motion of a joint to prevent a recurring injury. An external support is used to stabilise the structure. There are now techniques like Kinesio Taping and Functional Fascial Taping, which have become more popular and well-accepted in the sports scene.

Taping such for the plantar fascia enhances the proprioception or kinaesthetic feedback. This improved feedback enables the muscles to “fire” more appropriately as postulated in the earlier activation of the vastus medialis oblique muscle (VMO) when a lateral tracking patella in clients with patello-femoral joint pain, is taped in a more neutral position.

Another benefit of improved feedback can also enhance the awareness of the joint position so that a feed forward action of muscle contraction can occur prior to a re-injury. An example would be placing a simple piece of rigid tape on the outer side of an ankle while getting them to balance on a wobble board. The strip of tape would provide the knowledge that inversion is occurring. Hence, to prevent this movement, the peroneal muscles would be activated; averting a re-injury.

Restrictive Taping: What And When

Restrictive taping as the name suggest, is to restrict range of motion of a particular joint. This can be for one direction or multi direction, depending on the direction and degree of instability. To protect unstable joints, this type of taping is used, especially where repeated or severe ligament damage have resulted in the stretching of the ligaments and/or joint capsule, thus leading to joint laxity. In such cases, an elastic brace will not provide enough support as the brace “gives” and will not limit the joint from moving into the unstable range.

An athlete recovering from a ligament or muscle strain would use restrictive taping. The tape acts as an external support to prevent the joint from going into the end range of the movement that would cause pain. The most common areas that this form of taping is used are ankle, shoulder and knees.

Kinesio Taping

Kinesio taping was popularized in the 2008 Olympics, where a lot of the swimmers, runners and jumpers were having these colorful and fancy looking tapes pasted on them. Some even thought that it was a fashion statement. However, the real history of Kinesio taping started in Japan, some 25years ago by Dr Kenzo Kase. The method of taping uses a uniquely designed and patented tape for the treatment of muscular disorders and lymphedema reduction. The use of the tape was to assist and give support to prevent over contraction of the muscle or to help decrease swelling. This enables the tape to help speed up the rate of healing for injured muscles.

Functional Fascial Taping

Functional fascial taping (FFT) was developed by an Australian remedial massage therapist who worked with the Australian ballet named Ron Alexander. Whilst he found the restrictive taping useful in preventing the recurrence in injury, it was not functional for his ballerinas as they required a full range of movement of their injured joints/muscles to perform their dance. Hence, FFT was created to allow the continuation of functional range and activity without pain. Most musculoskeletal conditions are multifactorial in nature, and pain can be a hurdle in a successful rehabilitation. FFT provides physiotherapists with another tool to manage their clients’ pain and increase compliance.

Essentially, FFT affects the connective tissues. When tape is applied, a sustained load onto the fascia is applied in a direction that allows the muscles under the fascia to glide better. This has been observed on ultrasound. The direction of load that reduces the pain guides the direction of tape applied. Pain disappears, and the range of motion increases with the functional activity if the tape is applied appropriately. The latter is likely due to the increase muscle gliding with FFT. As with many techniques, the physiological reasons for their effects are still largely unknown although research is still being done.

Where Can I Apply It?

Any area of the body can be applied with FFT. It does not need to be on a joint. FFT has been greatly applied in dance medicine but in recent years have migrated to be extensively used in the area of sports. However, the usage of FFT has been generally limited to rehabilitation where pain would inhibit the proper activation of muscles. Such techniques have been employed to help athletes go about their sport with no pain. It, however, doesn’t solve the problem. Hence, it should not be used for frequent use.


If applied properly, taping is a great adjunct to getting us back to sports. However, please discuss with your therapist whether you are ready to get back to sports following your injury. It’s always safer to complete your rehabilitation. Taping can be used to slowly give you the confidence to get back to sports.


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