Guide to strapping, bandages and braces

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Guide to strapping, bandages and braces - which should you use?

There is a huge variety of strapping tapes, bandages and braces on the market. Each product functions a little differently and some are tailored towards specific injuries more than others.


As a group, strapping tapes, bandages and braces all function to:

  • Help with pain
  • Stabilise you after an acute injury
  • Protect and support your injury through the healing phase
  • Enhance healing by compressing tissue


Choosing the best product for your unique situation will depend on these four factors:

  • 1. The official diagnosis of your issue
  • 2. Where your injury is
  • 3. How much pain you’re in
  • 4. What stage of healing your injury is in

Below we look at some of the main differences between these supportive products to help you make the choice best suited to your injury.

The difference between strapping tapes and types of bandages

Strapping tapes and bandages have two distinct roles when it comes to protecting an area of your body after it has been injured:


1. Strapping tape, in particular Rigid Strapping Tape, is designed to help you stabilise your joints and restrict joint movement.


You would need to do this post injury to protect yourself from injuring yourself further when you’re ready to get back into exercise or your preferred sport.


Rigid strapping tape can also be used to prevent injury. It does this by supporting your joints and tendons to minimise painful or excessive movement during vigorous physical activity. For extra support, you can use an Elastic Adhesive Bandage on top of your rigid strapping tape.


For best taping practice, we recommend using a three-step routine:


Kinesiology tape works like a second skin to improve your blood flow and speed up recovery from minor injuries. You can use it to reduce muscle fatigue and swelling.


2. Elastic Bandages such as the Cohesive Compression Bandage and Hi-Stretch Compression Bandage are designed to compress and support injured joints or muscles as well as secure wound dressings.


One example where you would use a bandage, like the Cohesive Compression Bandage, instead of strapping tape is immediately following an injury. You would do this to help reduce swelling and support your joints or muscles while they make their way through the initial stages of healing and to reduce pain.


Elastoplast’s Hi-Stretch Compression Bandage will provide a higher level of compression and it is particularly useful in conjunction with the RICER (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral) technique. For example; overlap the bandage by a half to two thirds in a spiral bandaging technique formation on clean and dry skin. When bandaging around a joint (i.e. knee or ankle) use a figure 8 bandaging technique. At the end be careful not apply any stretch/pressure on the last 10cm of application. This will help to secure the bandage. Finally, check that the bandage is not too tight.


In another example, you would use a crepe bandage to keep a wound dressing intact. Elastoplast Crepe Bandages are strong support crepes for medium to long-term bandaging requirements and can also help you support a strain and provide compression to alleviate swelling.


They come in two weights depending on how much compression your injury needs:

  • Medium weight is ideal for keeping dressings in place, stemming bleeding and providing light compression.
  • Heavy weight provides moderate compression and increased support for strains and sprains in joints and muscles.

The difference between different types of strapping tape and braces

There are four main differences between strapping tape and braces:


1. The role they play in supporting or preventing an injury:

  • Strapping tape helps to stabilise joints and restrict joint movement. It also enables you to design your taping procedure for a customised fit specifically for your injured joint. This provides faster treatment, maximum support and protection.
  • A brace improves stability in joints that are weak or recovering from an injury. It will support rather than restrict movement using targeted stabilisers.

  • In conjunction with adequate rest, using a brace can improve your mobility and prevent re-injury. A brace is also anatomically contoured and compressive to activate your muscles, provide warmth and reduce and prevent pain in your joints and tendons.

There are three main ranges of braces to choose from:


2. Their effect on sensitive skin:

  • Strapping tape can cause some consumers’ skin to react, however this can be prevented through the use of Pre-Taping Underwrap.
  • A brace doesn’t leave an adhesive residue. This makes it less likely to irritate sensitive skin.


3. The skill level required to use each one:

  • Strapping tape can be confusing so some consumers. Many people have little to no knowledge of the proper taping techniques for their injuries.
  • A brace is much easier to learn how to use and apply without the help of a professional. It doesn’t cause any pain when it is removed either.


4. Their cost considerations:

  • Strapping tape generally costs less for a single unit.
  • A brace can be more economical for a chronic or long term injury as it is durable and reusable.