The Art of Taping

Ever walked into a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club and wondered what all of these people were doing with white medical tape on their fingers and toes?  I used to wonder as well, until I received my very first bone fracture.

Those of us busy taping our appendages do so because we’ve been the recipients of fractures or repeated or severe sprains.  The most common of these are toes and fingers.  Toes are especially horrible with their small size and the fact they’re constantly being used.

For myself, I occasionally tape my ring and pinky fingers together on my right hand.  Sometimes it just can’t handle the strain of grips in Jiu-Jitsu.  Lately I’ve been thinking that I’ve gotten a hairline fracture on my right index finger.  This is evidenced by my lack of bottle-opening strength.  So I’ve been taping my index and middle fingers together for support.

You lose some mobility when you tape, or at least I do, because my knuckles don’t line up across the board.  I feel the trade-off of mobility for stability is worth it, and honestly, I don’t need to be able to make a fist when I’m trying to work for a Bow’N’Arrow choke on my opponent.

There is a small learning curve as well; figuring out how to tape the affected area as well as making sure the tape won’t come off after a round or two.  You don’t want to make it to tight and cut off circulation, but you don’t want it too loose either.  You also need to make sure that the tape seals over itself; this will reduce the chances of it being pulled off during training.

I double the life of a roll of medical tape, because I only need half of the width for my current taping purposes.  I keep a roll for half-width taping, and a roll for full-width taping.  In the past I have also taped my shins to keep my tibialis anterior in line and I’ve taped my ankle for more support after a brutal ankle roll.

Taping doesn’t mean you’re safe from re-injuring yourself, but it will help.  If you’re going to be training through an injury, then you take the risk of damaging yourself further, and possibly permanently.  The best advice is always to take the time off and heal properly, but this advice is often ignored.  Believe me, I have both trained and competed through various injuries.

I also try not to be completely dependent on taping myself up to train.  Every second training session, I will forgo the tape and train, albeit a little lighter than usual.  By doing this, I hope to help my body heal and strengthen the injured area.  Sadly, Dr. Prototype and his medical Ph.D. is not recognized by the Doctor’s Association of Canada

–The Prototype’s Alter-Ego