Zinc oxide tape is a term used to refer to athletic tape with a zinc oxide adhesive on one side. Although many elastic adhesive tapes also use zinc oxide adhesive, the term usually refers to athletic tapes with little or no stretchability.
Just as elastic adhesive tapes come in both heavyweight and lightweight designs, zinc oxide tapes can be categorized in terms of their rigidity. Most of these tapes are made from pure cotton. However, there is a sub category category (known as strapping tapes or rigid tapes) with a rayon backing that gives additional rigidity.
Like all athletic tapes, zinc oxide tapes are primarily used to treat or prevent soft tissue sport injuries. These may include sprains or strains. It is also useful for holding pads or bandages next to the skin.
How To Identify High Quality Tape
Higher quality zinc oxide tapes possess more longitudinal and vertical cotton fibers per square inch. They also have stronger adhesive backings in order to keep the tape in the correct position for long periods of time.
Higher quality tape also has a more uniform application of adhesive along its length.
One way to assess this is by listening to the sound of the tape as it comes off the roll. If there is an even application of adhesive with consistent quality, the frequency of the sound will be uniform.
Latex Free Zinc Oxide Tape
Some zinc oxide tapes are free of latex and are therefore more attractive to individuals with latex sensitivity or generally sensitive skin.
Porous Zinc Oxide Tape
Some tapes are also porous in their design. This means that the athlete’s perspiration will not accumulate under the tape. Instead, it will migrate to the outside of the tape and then evaporate, allowing the body temperature to remain at its natural level..
This makes for a cooler, dryer and more comfortable wearing experience throughout a long game or training session.
How To Choose Zinc Oxide Tape Width
The most common tape dimension is 1.5” wide by 15 yds long. However, you can also buy these tapes with widths of 1” or 2” and with several alternative lengths.
Narrower strips of tape can be applied to smaller body parts such as the wrist or ankle. Their smaller size allows them to target injured joints or other body parts without affecting adjacent areas. They are also useful for use on children’s limbs or those of an unusually small adult.
Wider strips are appropriate for use on larger joints such as an adult shoulder or knee.
Zinc oxide tapes are used by athletes to prevent injuries such as sprains or strains, especially with regard to weak or unstable joints. They immobilise joints and prevent the ligaments, muscles and tendons from unusually severe forces that could cause injury.
Zinc oxide tapes are also used to protect recently injured joints from forces that could cause re-injury. They allow joint healing to continue with less risk of interruption.
Other popular uses of zinc oxide tape include securing wraps, pads or wound dressings to the body in order to prevent their movement during activity.
Before application of zinc oxide tape directly to the skin, we suggest the following precautions:
Remove moisture such as perspiration, lotions from the area of skin to which you will apply the tape. The area should be clean and dry before application. If this is not done, the effectiveness of the adhesive may be compromised;
If there is body hair in the area to which you intend to apply the tape, it should be removed for maximum adhesion.
If the tape will be in position for an extended period, consider first using a pre wrap against the skin. You can then apply the zinc oxide tape over the pre wrap. This will help to prevent blisters over the long term.
Avoid applying the tape directly to areas of broken skin or skin with rashes. Instead, apply pre wrap to the skin first, and then the zinc oxide tape;
For greater support, apply pre tape spray to the skin before applying the tape.
While applying the tape, we suggest the following precautions:
Be careful to avoid applying the tape so tightly that you cut off blood flow. If the athlete reports a loss of feeling or any other unusual sensations, the tape should be removed immediately. You should then seek medical advice before re-applying the tape;
As much as possible, try to apply the tape to provide support to injured ligaments, muscles or soft tissues while preserving normal movement.
After removing the tape:
Check for redness, swelling or itching that may indicate an allergic reaction, possibly to the zinc oxide adhesive. If any of these signs is present, consult with a physician before applying the tape. Alternatively, avoid applying the tape directly to the skin. Instead, use pre wrap first and then apply the zinc oxide tape .