Reasons to Wear Compression Wraps

While the main reason for wearing a compression wrap would be to treat injury and prevent harm, that only scratches the surface of why compression tapes play an essential role in an athlete’s or anyone’s daily routine. Those individuals that use compression wrapping do so to treat injuries suffered during their training. 

Compression wraps act as a barrier against the elements to protect the skin. Applying tape on joints creates room to increase blood flow. Muscles are kept in place to help recover articulations and joints. Finally, compression tape to the joint allows blood to flow and recover faster.

Initially developed in Japan as an alternative to stronger medical grade tape that would usually immobilize a joint or articulation. The use of medical wraps seemed excessive for moderate sprains or swelling. While leaving these injuries unattended could worsen the situation if the patient insisted on continuing their training. 

What are compression wraps?

Compression wraps, K-Tape or kinesiology tape, were developed in 1973 by Dr. Kenzo Case, a chiropractor who wished to find a treatment option that would allow the body to heal in a much quicker, more efficient way. The idea was to create space between the joints by applying the compression tape and create space to facilitate the body to heal itself naturally. Kinesiology is used mainly to support and help swollen muscles, ligaments, and joints by keeping swelling down, maintaining mobility, and enhancing recovery. 

The treatment became popular primarily in Japan and was used for rehabilitation purposes. It was later introduced to the U.S and Europe in 1998. Yet it only really came to public attention when elite athletes participating in the London 2012 Olympics used colorful strands of tape to help their performances during the events. The world took notice, and after several years the use of tape became prominent for amateur sports enthusiasts and frequent gym members.

Since then, the use of compression tape or kinesiology sports tape has become mainstream. Gyms are not full of people sporting colorful strands of tape across their bodies in hopes of it helping them alleviate their pains and thus maintain athletic activity in their everyday lives. Crossfit enthusiasts, runners, and mixed martial arts fighters have all been seen sporting the tape across their bodies to increase their output and relieve pain. 

What are they made of?

Compression, K-tape, or kinesiology tape is made from stretchable material with fine breathable fabric. The primary material is usually cotton or a compound cotton blend. The main feature is the elasticity provided over the treated area. Both provide enough pressure to protect the joint and support that strength training is safe. Some compression tapes include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Diclofenac to give more relief from pain and swelling.

How to Apply Compression Wraps?

Different wrapping techniques might be required depending on the affected area and what is being treated. It is essential to know compression tapes are not intended to treat fractures or similar. Firstly identify the type of lesion or sprain. These usually happen in the ankles, knees, hands, elbows, and shoulders. Each area has a specific technique for optimal results. 

Fortunately, there are several resources online, including youtube videos. It is always recommended. Physical therapists and chiropractors frequently use compression wraps to treat athletes and everyday people. They can also show their clients how to apply the tape at home. 

Top Five Reasons to Wear Elastic Compression Wraps

  • Compression wraps and Skin Care.

Medical tape is usually composed of strong tape with a strong adhesive. When placed against the skin, this tape can be painful to remove. The strong adhesive and tape can cause pain when removing it. Medical tape is principally used to isolate and immobilize and is made of polyester and latex-free elastic, but generally not cotton. The more robust material allows the doctor to wrap a lesion and immobilize an injured patient.

Strong adhesives are used for medical wraps since most of these tools are used for immobilization. The strong adhesive can not only pull out hair and, in some cases, also tear at the skin. They might cause irritation and allergic reactions due to chemical composition. Fortunately, these tapes are frequently used for dressing wounds, and patients are screened previously for allergies. 


These strong tapes are not recommended for use during competition or even light training. Sweat might react with the glue, causing skin irritation and redness. It might also provoke itchy rashes that can be pretty uncomfortable. It is best to use compression wraps designed explicitly for sports for healthy skin.

Compression tape provides elasticity and a breathable wrap that protects the skin. The compression wrap comes in several colors that can be used to match outfits and still be used to help heal an injury. Most importantly, the wrap is easy to remove, and the adhesive is not too rough on the skin. 

  •  Compression Wraps and Circulation

Compression wraps elastic material allow the wrapping application to the injured joint. Creating a small space for additional blood to flow while pressing against further inflammation of the area. The constant pressure on the wounded area fights inflammation so the athlete can continue their daily training. 

The wraps can also be used to place pressure on the affected area to prevent the accumulation of fluid. The wrap then further prevents the swelling of the joint or muscle, allowing for accelerated healing. The wraps are combined with elevation and hot then cold area therapy to help with increased healing.

Compression wraps, k-tape, or kinesiology tape are frequently used as wraps around the legs. They serve to control swelling and reduce recovery time. The added pressure on the ankles and shins helps provide stability but mainly offers added circulation. Physical therapists frequently use compression wraps to help with any edemas and help to keep them from coming back. 

While using compression tapes on the shins is quite famous for aiding recovery from a long legs day, compression tape can also be used around the forearms for contact sports as it is frequent that the athletes use their extremities to protect their bodies with their arms. Compression wraps will help control swelling, increase blood flow and provide stability. 

  • Compression Wraps and Muscles

The use of compression wraps around large muscles is primarily used to prevent swelling after an injury. It is important to note that compression wraps should be used for seven days when dealing with an injury, and it is essential to keep them clean. Especially if the injured athlete is determined to train through the healing process. Changing the compression wrapping after a few days is usually recommended to prevent any possible discomfort. 

The proper application of a compress is to apply gentle pressure to the affected area. The wrap deals with the inflammation helping to push back against fluid accumulation. Once the site has been wrapped, it is recommended to elevate the injury slightly to reduce the swelling further.

  • Compression Wraps and Improved Healing and Recovery

The intended creation of compression wraps is to help with a person’s recovery after injury. They can also be used to help prevent injury to the body again. Research has shown that using compression wraps increases blood directed to the heart and helps to provide stability to the muscles by increasing and improving oxygen delivery. The additional therapy can benefit a sprained ankle or a twisted wrist. 

The wraps help remove accumulated lactic acid in the muscle, thus reducing swelling. Thus decreasing recovery time considerably, high-intensity training for cyclists, swimmers, and long-distance runners find that using compression tapes while enduring training helps them keep going as swelling is staved off during exercise.

  • Compression Wraps and Proper Techniques

Wrapping up shins and taping up articulations demands biomechanical correction on behalf of the injured athlete. Many athletes cannot afford to rest while training for an event. The added pressure of the event and the fear of dealing with an injury while training can cause significant stress to the injured athlete. The use of compression wrapping can also bring a sense of ease to the person and provide not only physical but mental relief. 

The added benefit of wearing these wraps is the conscientious movement to allow proper technique for the sport they practice. Runners with a sprained ankle with compression wrap provide added support and remind the athlete to be cautious of missteps to further avoid injury.

Be Careful!

Compression therapy or compression wraps may not be suitable for everyone. Compression wraps should be used if a person has untreated, deep vein thrombosis or any type of arterial disease. If any of these symptoms are present, a physician should guide as to whether the use is appropriate or not.

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