Back in 2008, Keri Walsh, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in volleyball, walked out on the Beijing beach. Walsh started playing with one of her shoulders covered in black tape. One glimpse at her fresh look caused the world to ask which of the different types of athletic tape Walsh wore.

A renewed interest in the types of athletic tape and how tapes can help various injuries followed Walsh’s game. The concept of using athletic tape to support different injured areas of the body isn’t a new one in the sports world. However, its popularity increased after that 2008 Beijing volleyball game.

More everyday people began to buy athletic tape to help alleviate pain. After all, soreness can plague anybody, no matter what people encounter during their daily lives.

What Are the Different Types of Athletic Tape?

Athletic tape has long been a staple item for injured athletes. Walsh’s appearance with her “Kinesio tape” created a surge of interest in the product.

The popularity of diverse types of athletic tape has since been on the rise, especially among sports medicine practitioners and their sports patients. Even more impressive, Walsh started endorsing her specific brand of athletic tape shortly after her appearance.

However, endorsements and money aside, athletic tape is a medical product that can help people with various ailments obtain some relief.

To better understand how athletic tape can supply injury relief, it’s vital to cover the three distinct types of athletic tape: corrective, supportive, and compressive.

Types of athletic tape: Corrective Tapes

Corrective tapes include the type of tape Walsh was wearing at the Olympics. They are also known as Kinesio tape and Leukotape.

Kinesio tape’s design comes out of cloth. That cloth features pressure grooves cut into the tape. The tape's elastic properties allow a person to control how much the tape will stretch.

This type of tape started its use in Japan back in 1973. Its popularity spread to the United States by 1995.

Kinesio tape helps to support muscles. It can affect lymph function based on the pressure grooves. Plus, Kinesio tape corrects joint issues while lessening the feeling of pain.

Another type of corrective tape is known as Leukotape. Leukotape combines easily with a coverall. This tape is latex-free. Like Kinesio tape, medical professionals also use it to correct improper joint positions.

Leukotape tends to be extraordinarily strong. Also, it does not have elastic.

The tape’s application pulls bones back into alignment with each other. Coverall use before taping protects skin that might be sensitive to the zinc oxide in leukotape.

You should use this type of tape only for 6 to 8 hours initially. You might experience skin allergies at first. Also, when removing this type of tape, it must happen slowly.

Types of athletic tape: Supportive Tapes

The next type of athletic tape, known as supportive tape, is popular with athletes. Supportive tapes come with robust white tape. This type of tape utilizes little elastic.

Standard athletic tape comes in one to two-inch sizes. On occasion, supportive tape comes in a variety of other widths and sizes.

Supportive athletic tape supports the movement of a joint, like one's wrist. Supportive tapes have zinc oxide in them, so they breathe well. The tape doesn’t catch sweat and then rub on the skin.

Supportive tape also flexes to support the specific injured joint. Also, when a person’s body temperature goes up, the tape can work like a cast, adding strength.

Some people require a more significant type of supportive tape than what the typical athletic tape offers. If that's the case, then you might need to opt for Elastikon elastic tape.

This tape is cotton elastic cloth tape with a rubber adhesive. That rubber makes the tape elastic-like, adding pressure to the dressing.

Elastikon athletic tape works best for knee, elbow and shoulder injuries. Elastikon comes in two to three-inch sizes. So, it's a bigger, stronger version of a supportive tape.

Types of athletic tape: Compression Tape

The last type of tape that you’ll find athletes using is compression tape. You can use it to give muscles light support while increasing blood flow. People use compression tape sometimes to cover other tapes.

Compression tapes include tapes like Coban and Lightplast. Both types of tapes are elastic cotton spandex blended materials. Those materials supply the necessary elastic stretchiness for minimal support.

Also, this material blend increases blood flow to the joints. You should apply these tapes and remove them the same day.

Coban is a tape that is a self-adhesive. It won’t feel sticky against one’s skin. Athletes that play beach sports in the sand, like volleyball, like using Coban over other zinc oxide tapes.

Coban’s self-adhesive properties allow it to mold around the joint. By molding, Coban supplies some extra support, holding another tape in place.

Lightplast is also a self-adhesive tape that connects to the skin. This tape supplies an even lighter type of elastic support than Coban. Lightplast works well for elbows, wrists, and hands.

The more luminous properties of Lightplast allow for those more limber joints to easily move. The lighter the compression, the less restriction the joints experience with movement.

How to Use the Different Types of Athletic Tape

If you’ve never used athletic tape, don’t worry. We’ve got all the help you need below to select the best athletic tape. By reviewing our information, you’ll successfully get the job done.

Using types of athletic tapes: corrective tapes

A medical professional should apply both kinesiotape and leukotape to a person’s injured area initially. Kinesio tape re-teaches muscles. As the muscles re-learn their proper function, the patient feels a reduction in pain.

A medical practitioner must apply this type of tape because the correct application depends on the injury. The medical practitioner works the tape to set at a specific tension on the injured muscle.

After a certain amount of time, a patient can learn how to apply Kinesio tape. However, your medical practitioner will help you make that decision.

A patient can wear Kinesio tape for three to four days. The patient needs to watch for signs of irritation.

As for leukotape, a medical professional also must apply this type of tape initially. Leukotape aligns a person’s bones back into correct alignment.

Leukotape can create skin irritation. So, a medical professional should remove it.

Using types of athletic tapes: supportive tapes

To apply athletic tape or Elastikon, a person uses various circular patterns around the joint to add support. The most commonly taped joint areas include ankles, hand, fingers, and wrists. Typically, athletes have athletic trainers apply this type of tape to their injuries.

However, people can also use supportive tape themselves after some guidance. Most kits of supportive tape available on the market today offer standard directions.

You should use athletic tape only during an athletic event. Afterward, you should remove it with scissors.

Using types of athletic tapes: compression tapes

You can apply compression tape like a supportive tape. Athletes apply this type of tape during professional sporting events. However, this tape doesn’t require a medical practitioner to apply it.

You can use compression tape yourself on your joints. Make sure to apply it with multiple circular patterns over several different directions.

Selecting the Athletic Tape You Need

We’ve covered the three various categories of tape. However, there is a final vital item to consider.

Think about the types of events you engage in. If sweat or water might be an issue, then consider waterproof tape or wet-proof tape.

Do you tend to go out often when the weather is wet? Do you engage in water sports or other types of activities involving water? And do you sweat often? If so, you might want to consider water-resistant tapes.

These types of tapes can stick to your body even when you get wet. This feature is especially useful if you tend to stay in the water for prolonged periods, or if you sweat often. Plus, waterproof and wet-proof tape both tend to be more friendly to those with sensitive skin.

They irritate the skin far less than other types of tape.

We’ve offered you several choices in tapes you can choose from for your outdoor events. Remember that application is the key when making the best use of your tape.

And while all three choices in tapes are excellent options, none of them are magical cures. They can only work well if you use them correctly.

If you're new to applying tape, you can always seek out help from a medical practitioner. A medical practitioner can show you how to use the tape correctly.

When it comes to tape, knowledge is power. Knowledge provides the key to how successful the product will work for you.

If you need more information or want to share your thoughts about this article, please post below in our comments section.

Featured Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Xlsergval, via Wikimedia Commons

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