Zinc oxide sports tapes are used to stabilise and immobilise weak or injured joints, in particular in knee ligament injuries and sprained ankles. They are classified as rigid strapping tapes because they hold the joint firmly in place and prevent players going over or rolling the ankle or twisting their knee ligaments. Professional players routinely tape their ankles with zinc oxide tape to help prevent injury.

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What is zinc oxide tape?

Zinc Oxide tape is a non stretch sport tape which uses zinc oxide as part of the adhesive mix.

Zinc Oxide Tapes are normally white or brown rigid tape made from cotton or rayon, and are also known as athletic tape.

Cotton tapes are easier to tear while the rayon tapes are generally brown, stronger and are used for immobilising the large joints e.g. shoulder taping, ankle taping and patellofemoral taping also referred to as knee taping.

This style of sports tape is designed for use in sports medicine to immobilise joints and provide rigid support for the ligaments which hold the joints together.

How to choose a zinc oxide tape?

Vivotape is an excellent entry level cotton zinc oxide tape which provides a good level of support and strength for the cost. Moving up the Vivo Tape Sport is designed to be a bit stronger and more permeable to sweat which helps it stay in place longer.

The top of the range rayon tapes are Vivo S Tape and Vivotape P which are identical zinc oxide tapes but simply in different colours, roll lengths and widths.

Mueller M tape is a good branded entry level zinc oxide tape while the Mueller Eurotape has been specifically designed for the European market to be a but stickier.

Strappal zinc oxide tape is one of the industry leaders in terms of quality and price as is the well know Leukotape P. Leukoplast is manufactured by BSN, the same as Strappal and Leukotape P and is a lower cost tan coloured zinc oxide tape.

Physiotherapists may want to consider using a foam underwrap such as the industry standard Mueller M Wrap to protect the skin when applying zinc oxide tape on a regular basis.

Adhesive removers are available to help take off any sticky residue left on the skin, good examples of these are Fino Healthcare Adhesive Remover – alcohol free, Mueller Sports Medicine Tape Tuffner Remover and Leukotape Adhesive Remover.

How to use zinc oxide tape:

Taping and strapping techniques are  skills which sports physiotherapists learn and adapt through years of practice, although Taping Courses are available in colleges and through organisations such as The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in sports Medicine (ACPSM)

Zinc oxide tape tends to be used where joints are required to be immobilised to prevent sprains and strains and to protect ligaments, tendons and muscles, or to protect injured joints by limiting movement.

On occasions a well fitted support brace may be useful in protecting joins when a patient or athlete is not familiar with the techniques involved in taping.