Don’t Tape When You Can Strap.

Joint strapping is one of the most important skills any athletic trainer, trainer, physical therapist or rehab specialist can have today. Our profession has relied too much on joint taping for years to immobilize injured areas of the body, but I am convinced that the days of total immobilization largely are over. And that is a good thing.

What is strapping and when should I use it?

Joint strapping has been with us for a long time, of course, but it is now being used more frequently, and it is making a huge difference in the speed and quality of recovery. I hope it will soon take the place of joint taping as the preferred means of helping joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles recover from injury, and that taping will be used only when complete immobilization is absolutely necessary.

The reason is simple:  We know that allowing safe movement helps an injured structure heal much faster. We now advise patients to get moving after a back injury, surgery or any number of conditions for which we used to advise rest.

joint strapping techniques help authorize some healthy limited motion while at the same time protecting the structure, which allows the therapist and athlete to gain time for rehabilitation. 

What’s the difference between strapping and taping?

joint trapping and joint taping are definitely not the same thing, and it is extremely important to distinguish between the two.  When we tape, the goal is to not allow the structure any freedom of movement.  Taping is akin to a hard cast.  Strapping, on the other hand, is more like a soft cast. It allows for the continued elasticity of the targeted area, yet provides enough protection for healing purposes.  For example, strapping actually allows a therapist to support a specific ligament of the knee, like the ACL, while allowing the knee to continue to function in its normal capacity. When strapping, it is very important to respect the direction of the fascia, because the fascia and the ligament sometimes run in different directions. (See the photograph of a strapped knee in the header of this blog post.)

Very frequently, the trainer must apply therapeutic strapping for a ligament, tendon, muscle or a specific articulation to help improve mobility or strength. But diagnosis comes first, and the movement allowed for the affected area must be specifically designed to work with the joint strapping to encourage healing. After classifying and proposing therapeutic interventions for all classic sports pathologies (sprains, subluxations, tendonitis, etc.), participants will study how to prevent all the injuries common to each sport by way of specific exercises.

Learn joint strapping at H3 July 9-11.

We will hold a class in Strapping and Sports Pathologies July 9-11 at H3 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which I will teach with my good friend Bryce Turner.  This is an amazing course that will give trainers and therapists new skills to help athletes return to competition sooner and to promote healing of injuries. We all think we know how to strap, but this course delves deeply into specific joint strapping techniques for pathologies affecting specific parts of the body, including AC joint separation, ACL injuries, Achilles tendon strains, plantar fasciitis, golfers/tennis elbow, hip bursitis and shoulder instabilities.

Sign up now.

Strapping is rapidly gaining adherents because athletic trainers, physical therapists and athletes who use it have seen the results it delivers first-hand. I have had many of inquiries about this class since I announced it on the Soma Training schedule. It was originally scheduled for last April, but I was forced to postpone it because of the COVID pandemic, and I am genuinely pleased that I am able to offer it at last. If you are interested in this course, you can ask any questions you may have or register by emailing me at The class begins Friday, July 9 at noon and ends on Sunday, July 11 at 4:00pm. 

Better Body. Better Life.

Dan Hellman 

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