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How to Strap a Shoulder

By September 26, 2022October 18th, 2023Shoulder Pain

How to Strap a Shoulder - MGS Physiotherapy

Whether it’s to promote healing from a sports injury or provide extra support, learning the correct way to strap a shoulder is imperative to provide proper muscular activation and postural support. You risk increased discomfort and improper healing or training if you strap the shoulder wrong. So, how do you strap a shoulder? When is taping a shoulder appropriate? And how do you do it right? Let’s take a look at this:

Why should you strap someone’s shoulder?

Though strapping is a great way to promote healing with specific injuries or problems, there are some times when a shoulder strap is inappropriate or even detrimental to a shoulder injury.

Shoulder taping is an excellent option following a dislocated shoulder or a sprain of the AC (acromioclavicular) joint. However, talk to your physiotherapist first to see if this is the right option.

Taping a shoulder is also a good idea when the shoulder has sustained a sports injury. People even tape their shoulders to merely prevent their shoulders from getting injured when they play sports like rugby or football.

When shouldn’t you strap a shoulder?

There are some situations in which shoulder taping is not advised. The first is when a shoulder tape would just worsen the injury – for example, some shoulder fractures shouldn’t be taped. This is why you should check with your physiotherapist first.

The second situation is when the person has a skin allergy to sports tape. Some tapes contain latex, so always read the packaging.

You should also discontinue shoulder strapping if the person experiences aching, pain, redness, swelling, or discomfort.

Another scenario against shoulder tape is when the person has circulatory or sensory issues with strapping.

Again, you should always be careful not to put the strapping on too tight. You should also phase out shoulder tape over time as the symptoms decrease and function returns – long-term use of sports tape makes skin problems more likely.

First things first

Before you begin strapping the shoulder, let’s look at some things you should do to prepare.

It’s common to strap a shoulder that has sustained a sports injury. Most commonly, this sport is rugby – a sport played by hairy guys. So, remember to shave off the hair around the shoulder area for their comfort. 

Since you’re dealing with the shoulder, it’s advisable to protect the person’s nipple with an adhesive foam ring. Another good idea is applying pre-tape spray for increased adhesion of the tape.

Another thing to think about is tension. If the person’s arm gets taped too tightly, the tape will prevent optimum blood flow. This will quickly get uncomfortable, so keep tension in mind as you tape.

It’s also a good idea to invest in quality supplies. Your tape should be hypoallergenic, with good adhesive strength. Look for a well-known brand.

So, how do you strap a shoulder?

Here is a fundamental way to strap a shoulder. Of course, depending on your reason for strapping the shoulder, you’ll probably use a slightly different method.

This shoulder strapping method is intended for a person who can slightly bend their arm and have their hand resting on the hip.

  • First, apply an anchor of tape over the shoulder and around the middle of the person’s bicep. 
  • Then, adhere 2 to 3 basket-weave strips in both directions on the shoulder. Make sure these strips are crisscrossing the point of the shoulder so that they provide the shoulder ligament with protection and support. 
  • Start from the nipple area and stick down 2 or 3 corkscrew strips up and over the point of the shoulder. Wrap these strips around the arm.
  • Lastly, use an elastic adhesive bandage over and around the person’s arm and shoulder, as well as around their upper torso.


What now? 

With the shoulder firmly strapped, you’re ready to get back on the pitch or just go about your everyday life. As you notice the shoulder’s range of movement and strength coming back, you can use progressively less shoulder tape. However, do strap up again for high-risk activities, like playing contact sports. 

Suppose you notice itching, numbness, pins and needles, discolouration, aching, pain, redness or swelling. In that case, if you suspect a skin allergy or the tape is posing circulatory or sensory issues, stop using the tape right away. Get in touch with your physiotherapist for the best advice for you.

If you want to accelerate your shoulder recovery, why not consider some complementary therapies? Here at MGS Physio, we offer a range of therapies, treatments and classes that can have you back fighting fit in no time. So book a physiotherapy treatment at one of our clinics across the Northern Beaches area today, or take a look at one of our group rehab classes to supercharge your recovery.