Strolling down the medicine aisle of any pharmacy, you'll have no trouble finding tape and wraps for the treatment of sports injuries; however, making proper use of them isn't as easy. For running injuries -- especially those with pain and swelling -- tapes and wraps can be valuable tools for treatment. Here's why: As a response to injury, your body will form an edema, or a patch of fluids near the injured tissue that causes swelling. This rush of fluid impairs healing and can deprive injured cells of oxygen. Compressing the area by wrapping or strapping it will force liquids away from the injury site to surrounding tissue [source: Thielman]. The sooner you compress the injury, the better. If your doctor thinks compression is necessary, he or she will provide more information on how to wrap or tape the injured area.
If your physician advises you to compress your injury, here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of your wrap:
- In a general sense, wrapping usually makes use of elastic or non-elastic, cloth-like material, whereas strapping uses tape.
- Your doctor will determine whether the injured area can still be partially used. If it can, you'll wrap the injury in its functional position, or one that is natural and weight-bearing, but prevents further injury.
- Start wrapping or strapping at a healthy area (not the injured area). Circle the wrap toward the injured area, but be sure to end it at another uninjured area after covering the injury site.
- Neatly overlap layers of the wrap to reinforce support.
- Always discuss wrapping with your physician. You want to do a few practice runs to ensure you're not wrapping too tightly or loosely.
Read how rest can help running injuries on the next page.