Taping Guides

Guide To The Best Zinc Oxide Tape

What are Zinc Oxide Tapes?

Zinc Oxide tapes have become categorised over time, not by the nature of the tape, but by the description of the adhesive. Zinc Oxide is in fact an ingredient of the adhesive mix applied to the fabric. Zinc oxide is a compound which has been used for years in antiseptic creams as a healing agent for cuts and abrasions, and the adhesive will be well known to most people from the smell of Elastoplast plasters. Unwind a roll of Tensoplast and it will take you right back to your childhood.

Ironically, in recent years many of these tapes use more modern acrylic adhesives which are marketed as a hypoallergenic alternative, although in our experience most sportsmen, particularly rugby players prefer the stickiness of the original glue.

These physio tapes are better referred to as sticky rigid strapping tapes because firstly the fabric is coated with a strong adhesive, secondly they are non elastic, and finally they are predominantly used to strap and immobilise injured joints; in particular the knee and the ankle.

What Zinc Oxide Tape do I need?

We believe we have created a comprehensive collection of zinc oxide tapes – most Sports Physios will of course have individual preferences when it comes to the type of tape they use, so we present a selection of the world’s best known branded tapes such as Leukotape, Leukoplast, Strappal and Mueller M Tape and match them with our own quality professional tapes such as Vivotape P, Vivotape Sport, Vivo S Tape and Vivotape, and therefore we offer an unrivaled choice to teams and physiotherapists.

However, there are a number of criteria that therapists should address before choosing a particular tape:

1. Tensile Strength of Fabric

Traditionally, physical therapists from America prefer the lighter cotton tape such as Mueller M Tape. However, in professional sport in Europe, physios tend to like the stronger man made fibres of Rayon cloth for sports taping. In ankle taping for example, if the tape tears it could result in a sprained ankle and losing the player for a few games.

2. Stickiness

In the rough in tumble of a rugby match it is essential that the integrity of a taping technique is not compromised by the tape slipping off, so in sport players tend to favour tape which is sticky. It is crucial however to balance this adhesiveness with a smooth peeling off the roll down to the core. We are delighted to have developed the new Vivo tape Sport to have a beautiful balance between adhesiveness and peel.

3. Tearability

It is important for speed of use that tapes should be easily torn and to that end many of our tapes have been designed with a serrated edge to make this easier. (Cotton tapes such as Vivotape and Mueller M Tape are easier to tear than Strappal or Leukotape P)

4. Price

It is crucial to choose quality tapes from experienced sports medical suppliers. While there are well known name brands on the market, our range of Vivotapes have been created to to rival the characteristics of the top branded tapes but offer serious value for money. Our tapes are used in professional sports by top flight teams.

5. White, brown or your teams colours?

A misconception has developed that brown P tape is stronger than white tapes, this has been the case since Jenny McConnell developed her technique for Patello-Femoral taping using brown Leukotape P tape. Also, it is rare to see a rugby player with a knee taped with Tan Tape. Physios tend to prefer to use white tapes on knees and hands. Vivomed‘s Vivo S Tape and Vivotape P are identical except for the colour, but therapists tend to use them for different jobs.

How to use Zinc Tape for strapping

Sports Physios and Therapists working with athletes will have attended taping courses to learn the taping techniques which have become essential in the prevention and treatment of sports injuries, and zinc oxide taping is arguably the most important method in protecting players from injury. While many University physiotherapy departments do not offer taping courses as part of the curriculum, the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports and Exercise Medicine (ACPSEM) hold regular taping courses for Physios in Sport.

To most non physios the most visible use of physio taping can be seen in the professional rugby field where it is common place to see heavily taped knees, elbows and thumbs. However, an ankle sprain is the most commonly occurring sports injury and it is not surprising  that techniques such as the basket weave,  stirrups and figure of 8 taping will be known to many amateur players and coaches.

When applying the tape it is always important to make sure the skin is clean and dry, and some physiotherapists may choose to use an adherent spray to improve the stickiness of the taping wrap. Similarly, tapes should be removed carefully using taping scissors or “sharks” and the skin cleaned with Tape and Tuffner remover before washing.

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