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The Art of Taping

By Robin Tharle-Oluk

As an Athletic Therapist one of the things that we do on a regular basis and by regular I mean multiple times daily is taping. Be it an ankle, thumb, knee or wrist we have to know that exact place to put the tape and what way the that piece of tape needs to go to prevent and stabilize the joint.

Recently I was instructing a class of high school students on various tape jobs. There were varying degrees of experience with taping as well as degrees of interest in doing them properly. One of the first steps we went over was reviewing the motions of the joints we were going to tape. Before you even can touch a roll of tape you have to know what way the joint your going to tape moves. It would be very detrimental to tape an ankle inversion sprain and pull the ankle into inversion instead of eversion.

Learning to tear tape is another skill that needs to be mastered prior to applying tape to the body. Poor tears cause wrinkles and tight spots which are both huge no-no's with any tape job. The use of scissors or tape sharks to cut regular white taping tape is not efficient nor practical.

You may be asking by now why is this post called the Art of Taping. It may seem more technical than artistic. As much as you need the technical knowledge as to the body and its motions, taping is truly an art. No body part is the same. For example no arch in the foot is the same. Being able to recognize this and know the difference, while taping essentially on the fly is part of the artistic aspect. Many of you may not think so but tape jobs are pretty. They should be viewed like a sculpture. The absence of wrinkles and windows (where skin shows through between two pieces of tape) makes for a smooth, flawless tape job. This combined with the ability of the strength of the tape to prevent injury is beautiful.

If you still doubt how taping can be art. Watch an Athletic Therapist at work. The fluidity of their motions as they move the roll of tape around the body of their athlete or patient is at times as graceful as a ballerina or pianist.

I hope that after reading this you have gained a little more appreciation for those of us who tape. It is not as simple as throwing on a piece of tape as though it is a bandage. Each piece is in its place for a reason and put there purposefully, as a painter puts each brush stroke on their masterpiece.

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