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Athletic Taping for Shoulder Injuries

Being physically active can keep you in top shape, but sometimes regular sports and exercise can overload your joints, causing structural damage that takes time to heal. Meanwhile, you want to be able to go about your daily activities without worrying about doing further damage to your body or slowing the healing process.

For some joints like the knees, elbows and ankles, it is easy to provide extra support through elastic bandages and specially designed braces. But shoulder injuries are another matter altogether. Because of its location and structure, the shoulder joint can be difficult to stabilize. Wearing a sling may keep you mindful of your injury, but slings do not effectively support or stabilize the shoulder.

The most common types of shoulder injury are:

  • Rotator Cuff Tear: The rotator cuff muscles in particular play an important role in shoulder rotation and, while small, they can withstand strong force loads. However, once injured, rotator cuff muscles can be slow to heal.
  • AC Joint Separation: The AC joint is where the clavicle, or collarbone, meets the topmost point of the acromion, or shoulder blade. AC joint injuries are common in contact sports like football, and involve damage to the ligaments that hold the joint in place, causing the bones to separate.
  • Shoulder Instability: Because of its structural complexity, the shoulder joint is inherently unstable. A number of muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones come together in the shoulder region, giving the joint its broad range of motion. However, when muscle tension becomes unbalanced due to overuse or poor flexibility, the shoulder can become unstable, causing pain and dysfunction.

Each type of injury involves unique structures in the shoulder region, and each requires a distinct approach to treatment.

Athletic Taping for Shoulder Stability

One way to stabilize your shoulder is to use athletic tape, also known as elastic therapeutic tape, which is basically an elastic cotton strip with acrylic adhesive that sticks to your skin. When applied correctly, athletic tape can provide support and protection to an injured shoulder while leaving your hands and arms free.

Athletic tape can reduce discomfort and promote lymphatic drainage by lifting the skin, increasing interstitial space and decreasing inflammation. This reduces pressure within the injured area, enabling a more effective blood and lymphatic fluid to flow into and out of the target area. Athletic tape can provide support when doing physical therapy exercises, reducing pain and discomfort. Some healthy athletes tape their shoulder joints for added support during sports to reduce the risk of injury.

Benefits of shoulder taping include:

  • Promotes healing of shoulder injuries
  • Accelerates return to sports and physical activity
  • Protects the injury site
  • Reduces the risk of injury during sports

Do not use shoulder taping if:

  • You have a fracture
  • Your skin is allergic to athletic tape
  • Taping increases pain and discomfort
  • You have circulatory problems

As strength, range of motion and function improve and symptoms abate, you should gradually wean yourself off of taping to allow your body to grow stronger on its own. However, continue taping during high-risk activities for protection and stability.

Shoulder Pain Treatment in Brooklyn

The complexity of the shoulder joint makes it vulnerable to injury, and shoulder pain can originate from a number of causes. While athletic taping may help, it may not be the best solution for every situation.

At Back to Health in Brooklyn, our team of joint pain specialists knows how to manage shoulder pain and injuries to speed healing and restore full function. Don’t try to self-manage your shoulder pain. Contact Back to Health today and schedule an appointment at one of Physical Therapy Brooklyn’s conveniently located clinics.