Adhesive strapping tapes like EAB, zinc oxide tape and kinesiology tape need to stick securely to be effective. Obviously, tape that peels off easily is no use. No tape job is indestructible – especially if you wear it during sport – but there are some simple measures you can take to get reliable hold and adhesion.
1) Clean the area to be taped
Surface dirt and the natural oily secretions of your skin will interfere with the adhesion of the tape. Therefore the first step to achieving good stick is to properly clean the area to which you will apply the tape. The quickest and simplest way of doing this is with some kind of cleansing wipe. Don’t use the beauty product style of wipe that contain moisturisers or lanolin, because they will leave a residue on the skin. A simple medical wipe is ideal.
2) Trim back the hair
If the area you need to tape is very hairy, you’ll have two problems. Firstly, the hair will prevent full contact with the skin and thus weaken the adhesion. Secondly, the tape will be painful to remove later. Trimming the hair very short with clippers or an electric razor will help avoid these problems. You can also wet shave the area for an even smoother surface, but bear in mind that shaving can damage the skin which may make the tape uncomfortable to wear.
Many simple tape jobs with EAB or zinc oxide tape merely involve circling a body part with the tape. Here, hair is less of a problem because the tape is wrapped over itself and therefore holds itself on. Kinesiology tape, however, is usually applied in individual strips, so trimming the hair becomes more important.
3) Use an underwrap
Underwrap is a thin foam that you can wrap around the area prior to taping. It provides an excellent surface to stick to. Generally, the tape adheres immediately and permanently to the underwrap. Because the tape is not stuck directly to the skin, there is much less chance of you ‘sweating off’ the tape as you become active. The main disadvantage of underwrap is that it is impossible to correct mistakes in the tape job as you go along: once the tape is stuck, you can’t peel it back without tearing away the underwrap with it. Zinc oxide tape and elastic adhesive bandage are often used in conjunction with underwrap, but it is not suitable for use with kinesiology tape.
4) Use a pre-taping spray
Pre-taping sprays are applied to the skin and coat it in a thin, slightly adhesive film that provides a good surface for the tape. The film also has waterproof properties, which can help maintain adhesion if you sweat. Some people also apply pre-taping spray to foam underwrap (see above) but in our experience this is not necessary.
5) Warm the tape
At warmer temperatures the adhesive on strapping tapes becomes more fluid and sticky. If you’ve ever left a roll of tape in a hot car and then tried to unwind it, you’ll know what we mean. The flip side of this is that at normal room temperature the tape is not as sticky as it could be. When you apply the tape your body heat gently warms it up to full strength. You can boost this process by applying a little extra heat. Simply rubbing on the tape to create enough friction to heat it up is one common method. Alternatively, blow it with a hairdryer on a gentle setting. Zinc oxide tape and kinesiology tape are particularly amenable to either of these approaches. We do not recommend warming the tape before you apply it, because it may become too difficult to handle.
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