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The Great Tape Debate: When to Use Tape in BJJ



Using or not using tape is a hot topic among the BJJ community and in almost all active sports and competitions. Several athletes can be seen rocking tape, from football players to MMA fighters and soccer players. Taping has become more and more popular as athletes continue to find a way to up their game, maintain their performance, and protect themselves. While several people don't believe taping is necessary, it can significantly benefit those involved in BJJ.

For those that watch commonly televised sports such as basketball or football, many athletes can be seen wearing tape on their knees or arms. These areas are where they are more likely prone to injury in that respective sport. In BJJ, the joints or body parts primarily used and prone to injury are our fingers, toes, knees, and ankles. You are welcome to tape other parts of your body, but you genuinely want to focus on the areas that will be working the most.

Those who argue against using tape make a case that overusing it can make the person reliant on it. This can happen. The best rule of thumb on using tape is to (1) use it when you're already injured to prevent further injury and (2) when you need to cover an open wound to prevent infection.

Taping is all about offering stability to the injured joint or appendage. When taping your fingers are toes, use a “buddy” system, which essentially means taping the injured appendage to a stronger, healthier one. For example, if you injure your pinky finger, tape it to your ring finger. This will help keep the injured one stable. Your knuckles will need to be taped entirely to offer stability entirely across. Your ankle can be wrapped from your shin down to the bottom of your foot.

Another way to tape if the "buddy" system feels a bit too awkward is to create an X with the tape in an almost crisscross fashion up and down the appendage. This is particularly effective with your fingers, but the "buddy" system is still the most recommended taping technique.

Now, one of the more popular tapes is called the Kinesiology Tape, or K Tape. This is the tape you would have most likely seen that sticks to the body and looks as though the athlete created a design with it. This tape is primarily used to help with sprains and other joint pain. It latches onto the skin, contours with the body part it is affixed to, and prevents injury while allowing motion. There are several other tapes, such as McConnell tape, which is much sturdier and more rigid, allowing it to hold a particular spot in place and minimize movement. The type of injury you have and the location of that injury will help determine which tape is best for you.

Tape is a great tool to help ensure that you protect your body and prevent unnecessary harm or injury. However, use it only when necessary, so your body does not lose its natural grip strength or mobility. During your BJJ sessions, you will constantly engage and work your muscles. As you continue to develop your strength over time, your grip and mobility will increase, making you less susceptible to feeling swollen or sore after practice. If you have any questions or discomfort during your BJJ session, please speak to us after so that we can help determine the source of your pain and what we can do to help.


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