How to strap a shoulder with tape

Written by catherine chase
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How to strap a shoulder with tape
Athletes may be especially prone to shoulder injuries. (Football image by Richard McGuirk from

Athletes and people with physically demanding occupations may be especially susceptible to shoulder injuries. Strapping a shoulder with sports tape can help provide support to an injured joint. It may also be used as a preventive measure, even if you are not injured. Before taping your shoulder, consult a physical therapist to determine the best method for your specific needs. There are several different ways to tape a shoulder. In general, you will likely use a length of tape on the top of the joint as an "anchor," with support tape running down the arm.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Razor
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Towel
  • Rigid sports tape, 38mm or 50mm
  • Scissors
  • Elastic adhesive bandage

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  1. 1

    Shave the entire shoulder area before taping it. This prevents hair from sticking to the tape, which can cause pain when you remove it.

  2. 2

    Clean the shoulder area with water and soap to remove body oils and dry it thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Use rigid sports tape, either 38mm or 50mm. Instruct the patient to stand or sit in a relaxed position, with the arm hanging down naturally.

  4. 4

    Press a length of tape over the shoulder, perpendicular to the arm. The tape should stretch down to nearly the level of the armpit on either side of the shoulder. Press the tape down smoothly to eliminate wrinkles. This tape is called the anchor.

  5. 5

    Direct the patient to bend his forearm and hold the entire arm at a slight degree away from the body. Position the end of the next length of tape to overlap the anchor, travelling down the arm to the elbow. Do not cut the tape yet. While applying tension, pass the tape under the elbow and back up to the shoulder. Then, cut the tape. This length is called the support tape.

  6. 6

    Instruct the patient to flex her bicep muscle. Wind a piece of elastic adhesive bandage around the bicep to help secure the support tape.

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