Athletic Tape Overview
Hot off the presses of Wikipedia, “Athletic taping is the process of applying tape directly to the skin in order to maintain a stable position of bones and muscles during athletic activity.” However, not all athletic tapes are created equal. In fact, this highly specialized form of adhesive can have varying functions and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Athletes at the highest, and lowest, levels of competition rely upon athletic tape to prevent injuries, aid recovery and stay in the game.
Despite some researchers claiming that biggest pro of athletic tape is the placebo affect it produces, the scientific community has been able to identify true and tested benefits for knee, ankle, shoulder and wrist injuries, among others. While the placebo aspect may scare some off, let’s be honest, if something helps you mentally, it would be foolish to simply brush it aside.
Famously, Yogi Berra once said that “baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” Since Berra’s time, our math has certainly improved, but the sentiment holds true and athletes today are looking for every competitive advantage they can get.
For starters, using athletic tape is a fantastic way to restrict motion when traditional splinting and other measures are not feasible or would be too restrictive for their activity. Taping targets soft tissue for the purpose of securing and supporting different parts of the body that may become inflamed, or are already irritated.
Additionally, one of the more underrated functions of athletic tape is providing a waterproof layer that protects bandages, protective pads or other dressings. Now with any item that comes in flashy colors and designs, there will be people who purchase and apply solely for aesthetic appeal, however real benefits are readily available for those who know how to get the most out of this product.
With countless options available at stores ranging from your local pharmacy to national sporting goods stores, and everywhere in between, the choices may seem overwhelming.
Recognizing how saturated the market has become, we decided to do the heavy lifting for you. After an extensive search, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 Top Athletic Tapes out there right now.
Before we begin, it is important to remember that with athletic tape, like all medical treatments, the individual applying the tape should be trained so as to prevent injury.
Without proper knowledge of what results their actions might cause; the improper use of athletic tape could be as detrimental as proper use could be positive.
Here are our top picks for "best athletic tape":
1. Best Overall: 3 Pack of Hampton Adams Black 45 ft. Per Roll Athletic Tape - 1.5 Inch
Hampton Adams Athletic Tape
Our Best Overall athletic tape comes from Hampton Adams. With a list price of $10.99, you receive 3 rolls of 45-feet black athletic tape. With this combination of quality and pricing, there is no better option on the market.
Made of high-quality cotton, Hampton Adams provides a 60-day money back guarantee, though we doubt you’ll ever need to take advantage of this generous program given the experience others have had. While this is medical grade tape and is used for physical therapy and other training exercises, it is also practical to use for athletic gear.
Original Retail $10.99
Brand Hampton Adams
2. Best for Knees: BSN Medical BEI076168 Leukotape P Athletic Sports Tape - 1.5 Inch x 15 Yard
BSN Medical Athletic Sports Tape Review
The tape on our list designed for the most tailored of uses specifically targets patellofemoral pain, which is pain in the front of the knee and around the kneecap. This is also sometimes referred to as “Runner’s Knee” or “Jumper’s Knee.” What we’re getting at here is that if you fall victim to this kind of pain, a great option is BSN Medical’s Leukotape.
With the ability to provide rigid joint immobilization and limit movement, this strong, yet easy to rip tape is at the top of its class. Besides its designation for helping ailing knees, this product is also a great option for protecting and immobilizing knees and ankles.Original Retail $7.49
Brand BSN Medical
3. Best Overall White: 3 Rolls of Hampton Adams White Athletic Sports Tape - 1.5 Inch x 15 Yards per Roll
Hampton Adams Athletic Tape (White) Review
Long-lasting and simple, the most user-friendly roll of tape in our guide comes in just one color, white, but has countless uses. Besides each roll being 45 feet long, you can tear this tape with your fingers, meaning nothing will go to waste since you can cut the perfect fit each time it is used.
This medical tape, produced by Hampton Adams, is thick and sticky, yet somehow does not leave behind a mess of glue that is so common with other brands. Unlike most products on our list, this tape is perfect for injury prevention and management, as well as use on athletic gear.
According to the manufacturer, their tape can be used by weightlifters and mountain climbers, as well as on baseball bats, lacrosse sticks and workout bars.Original Retail $9.99
Brand Hampton Adams
4. Best Pre-Cut: 4 Rolls of JuneBugz Pre-Cut Kinesiology Tape 2 Inch x 10 Inch - Supports Ankles, Back, Wrist, Shoulder + Bonus Scissors - Available in Beige, Blue, Green, Black or Pink
JuneBugz Pre-Cut Athletic Tape Review
Our top pick for pre-cut tape, the 4 rolls of JuneBugz Pre-Cut Kinesiology Tape is a great option for multiple uses. Can be used on ankles, back, wrists, shoulders and more.
This water-resistant athletic tape comes in 5 color options; beige, blue, green, black or pink and is made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex. This hypoallergenic tape is 100% latex-free.
An extra bonus is that this pack of athletic tape includes a pair of scissors, ensuring you have the tools necessary to cut the tape for easy use on multiple areas.Original Retail $18.85
5. Best Pre-Wrap: Mueller Rainbow Pack of Sports Athletic Pre-Wrap in 8 Colors Options
Mueller Rainbow Athletic Pre-Wrap Review
An essential for every gym bag, quality pre-wrap can be worth its weight in gold. With each purchase comes 8 different colors, and despite that being a plus for many, it could be frustrating to others that only like to use one (or anything less than 8) colors.
Of all Mueller products, this is one of our favorites as it is both water resistant and latex free. Speaking to its functionality, this product can be used as a headband, to hold your sleeves up or serve as a protective layer beneath tape that otherwise might cause irritation or pain upon removal.Original Retail $12.55
6. Best Bulk Pre-Wrap: 12 Pack Mueller Pre-Wrap for Athletic Tape - Rainbow Assorted Colors
Mueller Pre-Wrap for Athletic Tape Review
Yet another set of pre-wrap from Mueller, this package contains 12 rolls in a variety of colors—some brighter than others. Mueller is the authority in anti-chafing for body parts covered by athletic tape.
Each roll is 30 yards long and is made up of some of the thickest pre-wrap available. Like others of its kind, this product is perfect for securing apparel in place, as well as ice packs and bandages. With a retail list price of just over $1.70 per roll, getting a product of such high quality for a low price is a bargain that should not be passed up.Original Retail $20.99
7. Most Tech Forward: TheraBand Kinesiology Waterproof Physio Athletic Tape - 20 2 Inch X 10 Inch Pre-Cut Strips - Available in 7 Colors
TheraBand Kinesiology Waterproof Athletic Tape Review
TheraBand certainly did their homework before putting this tape out. Considering the findings of almost 300 kinesiology tape research studies, their team has incorporated the best and most current technology available into their product. While most similar tapes are waterproof, this roll is one of the few that can stand the test of being worn in the pool or shower.
While most products in this field target one or two specific functions, the always ambitious TheraBand supplies a product that helps with Pain Reduction, Joint Support, Muscle Support, and has proven Neurological and Circulatory effects. With their XACTSTRETCH system, the pre-cut strips in each of their rolls lets you get the right fit with every application.Original Retail $9.75
8. Best with Guide: Sparthos Kinesiology Athletic Tape Plus Free Kinesiology Taping Guide - Uncut 2 inch x 16.4 feet Roll
Sparthos Kinesiology Athletic Tape review
Simple. Affordable. Effective. Sparthos Kinesiology Tape comes in a dozen colors, and with a list price just under $10, we consider it one of the best value athletic tapes on our list. Sparthos goes above and beyond for their customers, creating the perfect package for someone new to using kinesiology tape.
Along with each roll of tape purchased, they provide a 41-page guide (valued at $15) on taping benefits and how to use their product effectively. Going a step further, they have a policy that allows you to order risk free, with a 100% money back, no questions asked, guarantee, should the product not be the right fit for you.
Sparthos has created a product that you can continue to use as your knowledge and needs develop. Even for the most experienced of users, this product provides long lasting support designed to work with your body, rather than simply restrict the area.Original Retail $9.96
9. Most Versatile: KT Tape Original Cotton Elastic Latex-Free Kinesiology Therapeutic Athletic Tape - 20 Pre-Cut 10 Inch Strips
KT Tape Original Athletic Tape Review
With 8 different colors, 4 of which come in both cut and uncut roles, KT Tape has an option for everyone. This product is made from cotton and is latex and drug free, meaning those with allergies need not worry. While the product is easy to use for the average joe, it is also trusted by world class athletes serving as the Official Kinesiology Tape Licensee of the US Olympic Team.
For those new to Kinesiology, or athletic tape in general, KT Tape has done marvelous job of being user friendly providing more than 60 easy to understand instructional videos. Going even further, they provide various charts that show proper application and some common injuries where their product may be of help.Original Retail $12.99
Brand KT Tape
10. RockTape: RockTape Original 2 Inch Water-Resistant Kinesiology Athletic Tape
RockTape Original Kinesiology Athletic Tape Review
With 17 exciting colors and designs to choose from, RockTape kinesiology tape is flashy, yet practical. Besides coming in a 16.4 feet continuous roll, there is also a set of 20 pre-cut strips available.
RockTape is made without latex or zinc, providing protection to those with even the most sensitive skin. By creating a product that moves with your skin to provide support, those wearing it reap the benefits of extra protection, without the restraints they might feel with other brands.
Despite being water resistant, those who plan to wear this in the rain or underwater need to exercise caution as this specific product is not designed to repel large amounts of moisture, and performance will suffer accordingly.Original Retail $19.00
Athletic Sports Tape FAQs
What is athletic tape used for?
Athletic tape is used to recover from an injury or a muscle that has been overexerted. It helps reduce pain and promote recovery by holding muscles and bones in a certain position.
Does athletic tape really work?
The research behind athletic tape is not thoroughly researched, but it has been shown to help reduce strain in muscles, promote circulation, and help joints and muscles. It works best when combined with physical therapy to heal injuries.
What is athletic tape called?
Athletic tape is the improper name for kinesiology tape.
Is sports tape the same as athletic tape?
Yes, these terms are interchangeable.
Can KT Tape Be Harmful?
In rare cases, yes. KT tape helps improve circulation of fluids, which for some physical problems, such as blood clots, could prove to be dangerous. Consult your doctor before use.
Is athletic tape waterproof?
Yes. The tape is designed to be waterproof, mimic skin, and stay on for up to 5 days.
What does KT Tape stand for?
Why do athletes put tape on themselves?
After suffering an injury or an overexerted muscle, athletic tape can help hold the muscle and bone in place to prevent overexertion and improve circulation around the area to heal the injury faster.
Is KT Tape a gimmick?
No. While the tape should not act in place of serious medical attention, it can alleviate pain and help in the recovery process.
Can you use athletic tape directly on skin?
Yes, the athletic tape is used to mimic skin and thus can be placed directly onto skin.
How long can you leave athletic tape on?
Most athletic tape stays on for 3-5 days before it will begin to weaken and peel off the skin.