The following posture taping techniques are designed to support the upper back and neck, improve postural alignment and reduce stress on the spine during activity. They can be used for both the treatment and prevention of upper back and neck injuries, particularly those associated with poor posture.
You should discuss the suitability of these taping techniques with your physiotherapist prior to using them. Generally, they should only be applied provided they are comfortable and do not cause an increase in pain, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, swelling, itchiness or excessive redness of the back, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
What sort of tape should be used for posture taping?
There are many different tapes and bandages available for use by physiotherapists and patients. However, when the purpose is to support and improve posture, adhesive, non-stretch (rigid) sports tape is generally most appropriate. (For posture taping 38mm is usually the most appropriate size). This should always be used in combination with hypoallergenic tape as an underlay, such as Fixomull.
Benefits of Posture Taping
When used correctly, posture taping techniques can:
- Decrease pain during sport or activity (especially prolonged sitting or standing).
- Aid healing of certain injuries.
- Allow an earlier return to sport or activity following injury.
- Reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation.
- Prevent injuries during high risk activities (usually involving repetitive bending forwards or prolonged slouching such as sitting at a computer for long periods).
Indications for Posture Taping
It is generally beneficial to use postural taping in the following instances:
- With certain upper back, neck or shoulder injuries – such as postural syndrome where poor posture is contributing to the injury (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist as certain injuries should not be taped).
- To prevent injury or injury aggravation – Posture taping may be beneficial during activities or sports that place the upper back or neck at risk of injury or injury aggravation (such as office work, gardening, repetitive bending forwards, activities encouraging poor posture etc.).
When should I avoid Posture Taping?
Posture taping should be avoided in the following instances:
- If you have certain injuries (such as some fractures – this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist).
- If you have a skin allergy to sports tape.
- If the taping technique results in an increase in symptoms such as pain, ache, itchiness, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, or excessive redness of the back, neck, shoulders, arms or hands.
- If you have sensory or circulatory problems.
Weaning off posture tape in general activity is usually recommended as posture, strength and range of movement improves and symptoms reduce. In these instances, taping during activities encouraging poor posture may still be recommended.
Posture Taping Techniques
The following postural taping techniques may be used to provide support for the upper back and neck and to improve posture. Generally it is recommended that the back is shaved 12 hours prior to taping (to prevent painful removal of hairs and skin irritation). The skin should be cleaned and dried, removing any grease or sweat. Low irritant Fixomull tape should be applied as an under-wrap to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation with rigid sports tape over the top of this.
Begin sitting or standing in good posture. Your spine should be straight with your shoulders back and your chin tucked in (eyes looking straight ahead – figure 1).
Place a strip of tape along the top of the shoulders and across the top of the lower back (figure 2). These are used as a fixation point for the other taping techniques.
Maintain the spine in optimal posture (figure 1). Begin this taping technique at the level of the top anchor by following the black arrows (figure 3). Conclude this taping technique at the level of the bottom anchor by following the white arrows (figure 3). Create 3 straight lines with the middle line in the centre of the spine.
Complete Posture Taping for maximal support
Removing the tape
Care should be taken when removing the tape to avoid injury aggravation or skin damage. The tape should be removed slowly, pulling the tape back on itself with pressure placed on the skin as close as possible to the line of attachment of the tape.Generally tape should be removed within 48 hours of application or sooner if there is any increase in pain or symptoms (including skin irritation or itchiness).
Posture Taping Summary
To purchase physiotherapy products to assist with Postural Taping click on one of the above links or visit the PhysioAdvisor Shop.
- View Basic Pilates Exercises designed to improve posture.
- View Intermediate Pilates Exercises designed to improve posture.
- View Advanced Pilates Exercises designed to improve posture.
Find a physiotherapist in your local area who can help with Postural Taping.
- Learn more about Posture.
- Read about Ergonomic Computer Set-Up.
- Read about Postural Syndrome (Neck).
- Read about Postural Syndrome (Thoracic).
- Read about Postural Exercises.
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