Physiotherapists, chiropractors and sports trainers have utilized taping to prevent joint injuries, especially the ankle and wrist, for years. It is also essential for early injury management and rehabilitation.

Though most commonly seen on athletes, taping can be especially beneficial to those at risk of wrist strain due to occupational-specific demands. Research has shown that taping can assist a faster recovery period and prevent further injury.

You may be familiar with two main methods of taping: rigid taping and kinesiology taping. Both have been established and used interchangeably to treat the same conditions, so what is the difference between them? And which one is better?

What Is Rigid Tape?

The rigid tape has been commonly used for decades by chiropractors and in sport. The tape wraps around the wrist firmly to perform its two main functions:

  • Provide physical support for the injured joint
  • Minimize range of motion to prevent further injury

The main advantage of this taping method is that, due to its restrictive nature, it is perfect for when extreme support is needed. However, the rigid tape can only be worn for a short period and must be removed to restore blood circulation and lymphatic drainage around the area. Skin irritation may also be an issue after extended periods of use due to its comparatively low breathability and heavy adhesive.

What Is Kinesiology Tape?

Developed by a Japanese Chiropractor in the 1970s, the main difference you'll experience with kinesiology tape is that it is incredibly stretchy and pliable. Kinesiology tape is usually applied stretched across or along the injured area, causing the top layer of skin to bunch and lift away from the muscle. Some benefits of kinesiology tape include:

  • Greater blood flow and lymphatic drainage at the injured area
  • Pain relief
  • Decreased inflammation, swelling and bruising
  • A functional range of motion
  • Quicker recovery after intense exercise

As it is non-restrictive and waterproof, most applications can be worn for up to five to six days, including during exercise, showering or swimming. Research has also shown that kinesiology taping is beneficial for treating wrist disorders caused by repetitive movements.

Which Method Should I Use?

Depending on your injury's extent, rigid taping may be preferred if firm physical support and limited movement are needed. Otherwise, you may find kinesiology taping far more comfortable, convenient and effective.

Whether it's work, gaming or connecting with loved ones, we are now all spending more time in front of our computers. While typing and using the mouse are not strenuous activities, these long-term repetitive movements can trigger discomfort in the wrists and forearms.

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