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Simple Guide to Rotator Cuff Taping

by Patty Weasler, RN October 20, 2020 0 Comments

kinesiology tape on shoulder

Taping your rotator cuff is an easy and effective way to provide support and manage pain. There are two main types of taping, kinesiology tape and athletic tape. These two types of tape work very differently and require different taping techniques for optimal use. Check out the rest of this article for more on rotator cuff taping and how you can incorporate it into your treatment for rotator cuff pain.

Will Taping Help Rotator Cuff Injuries?

Yes, taping works by reducing pain and providing support so you can continue in activities and sports. The compression will manage swelling, which helps with pain and healing. The tape also encourages healthy muscle contraction and joint movement. Here are the other benefits of taping for a rotator cuff injury.

  • Joint support
  • Increased proprioception
  • Prevent re-injury
  • Minimize pain
  • Encourage shoulder joint alignment

Check out our full guide on rotator cuff injuries here.

Kinesiology Tape for the Rotator Cuff

Kinesiology tape, sometimes called kt tape, is a newer product that works completely different than athletic tape. The tape creates a slight pull on the skin which can improve lymphatic and blood flow. It doesn’t wrap around the joint like athletic tape and is easy to apply. Kinesiology tape can be used at home and is commonly used in physical therapy and physiotherapy offices to treat shoulder pain from rotator cuff injuries, frozen shoulder, tendonitis and even shoulder impingements.

Benefits of Kinesiology Tape

Kinesio taping is a good choice for someone who has pain with repetitive movements but not necessarily chronic pain. Here’s why:

  • The kinesio tape stretches with your movement.
  • Doesn’t restrict your range of motion
  • Increases your proprioception, or body awareness, which will encourage you to think more about your movements and how they affect your body. 
  • Once applied, the tape can be worn for days without needing to be replaced.

Shoulder Taping Techniques

Here’s one of the most common ways you can use kinesiology tape for a rotator cuff injury or shoulder pain:

  1. Lay the first strip starting just below the boney ridge on the top of the shoulder (acromion) and continue it to the back below the shoulder blade with 25% stretch.
  2. The second piece of kinesiology tape should be placed perpendicular to the first strip over the back of the shoulder muscles with 80% stretch.
  3. With the third piece of tape going towards your back, lay it directly next to the second piece of tape.

Tips for Applying Kinesiology Tape

  • Cut the corners off of the k tape to prevent it from catching on clothes
  • Avoid using it on open skin or rashes
  • Clean the skin well before using to best adhesion
  • Cut the strips of tape to the correct size before you start applying it
  • Once the tape is on your skin run your hands over it to activate the adhesive backing

Talk to your physical therapist if you have any questions or check out our resource on physical therapy for rotator cuff injuries to learn more.

Athletic Tape for the Rotator Cuff

Athletic tape has been used for years by athletic trainers to support injured joints. This kind of tape is rigid and restricts movement, like a brace. It’s the perfect choice for someone who is looking to reduce the movement within the joint to prevent overextending it past its normal range of motion.

Benefits of Athletic Taping

  • It doesn’t stretch with movement which helps to restrict movement
  • Helps compress the joint
  • Decreasing swelling and provides shoulder pain relief
  • Provides joint support (the major benefit over kinesiology tape)

Athletic Taping Techniques

Follow these simple steps when using athletic tape to help immobilize the rotator cuff and shoulder muscles:

  1. Start with laying three strips of athletic tape over the shoulder with the one end starting on the anterior chest and continuing over the shoulder ending on the shoulder blade.
  2. Next, place the end of the tape on the front of the shoulder, bring it down to the elbow, and over up the arm to end on the back.
  3. Place your third piece of tape around the upper arm bicep as a support strap.
  4. Lastly, cut the tape off that is below the support strap.

Tips for Applying Athletic Tape

  • Avoid wrapping the tape too tightly
  • Use pre-wrap to prevent skin irritation
  • Replace the tape when it becomes worn or at least every two days

Taping, when used with other treatments like a rotator cuff exercise program will provide the best results. 

Taping with Other Treatments

Shoulder injuries caused by the rotator cuff muscles and tendons can cause long-lasting pain and limit your ability to enjoy life. Athletic and kinesiology taping are two of the many treatment modalities that can provide pain relief. When used with other treatments like rest, physical therapy, and exercise you will be able to rehab your rotator cuff and get back to all the activities you enjoy.

Sources:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/support-your-shoulder-with-kinesiology-tape-2696040

https://www.kttape.c om/ho w-to-apply-kt-tape/kt-tape-rotator-cuff/

Rotator Cuff Tear Products

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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