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William E. Prentice


When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Discuss how the athletic trainer should approach using taping and wrapping techniques in clinical practice.

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply elastic wraps to provide support, limit range of motion, or hold a protective pad in place for an injured body part.

  • Identify the properties of elastic and nonelastic adhesive tape.

  • Explain the process of applying and removing adhesive tape.

  • Demonstrate the correct techniques for applying common taping procedures.

  • Explain how Kinesio taping can be used in treating an injured patient.


  • wrap

  • dressing

  • elastic wrap

  • adhesive tape

  • spica

  • heel lock

  • horseshoe

  • Kinesio taping


Wrapping and taping techniques are used routinely by athletic trainers.17 They have been used to accomplish a variety of specific objectives, including the following:42,49

  • Providing compression to minimize swelling in the initial management of injury

  • Reducing the chances of injury by applying tape prophylactically before an injury occurs

  • Providing additional support to an injured structure

Correctly and effectively applying a wrap or a “tape job” to a specific body part is a skill that has traditionally been left to the athletic trainer.19 It is true that athletic trainers have been instructed in and generally become highly proficient at applying a variety of wrapping and taping techniques to accomplish the objectives listed. Certainly, wrapping and taping skills are not difficult. They can be mastered by anyone willing to spend time practicing and learning what works best in a given situation. Of course, certain taping and wrapping techniques are more advanced and should be used only by those with some advanced experience. However, to be most effective in applying taping and wrapping techniques, the athletic trainer must have a sound background in and an understanding of anatomy and biomechanical function.

A review of the evidence-based support for using taping indicates that good research has shown the limited effectiveness of taping.1,22 However, there are a number of studies that have demonstrated post activity restraint of excessive ankle motion.4 Although it is still widely used for a variety of reasons, the athletic training profession has advanced beyond simply applying a specific taping technique for every injury. In some specific instances, braces have been shown to be more effective alternatives to taping.2,12

Certainly, the taping techniques presented in this chapter are not intended to be an all-inclusive list. Applying tape to an injured body part involves an understanding of the science involved and mastery of the skill and techniques of applying a taping technique. Certainly, there is a “best” method that can be identified through systematic analysis. Athletic trainers utilize countless variations on basic taping techniques. Some of ...

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