Wrapping and taping are terms that are often used interchangeably in the consideration of athletic training and sports injury rehabilitation, though each has a distinct meaning.
Wrapping is the procedure used both in administration of first aid to an injury, as well as ongoing treatment. Wrapping is the compression aspect of the RICE (rest/ice/compression/elevation) treatment commonly administered in the event of a soft tissue injury. RICE treatment is designed to immediately limit the consequences of injuries such as an ankle sprain, a strained hamstring, or groin pull, or a shoulder joint injury. Any strain, sprain, or suspected tear or tissue rupture should be treated with the RICE technique.
Wrapping a soft tissue injury is often done in conjunction with the application of ice. The wrap is applied to permit the ice bag or cold pack to be properly positioned on the surface of the injury, and also provide the desired compression to the surface. Compression, when properly administered, will be tight without restricting blood flow. The compression is used in combination with the application of ice to prevent the joint from swelling, a natural process that tends to lengthen recovery.
While any material could be used as a wrap in an emergency, first aid wraps are typically made of an elastic substance, to permit the wrap to be stretched over the injured joint and any ice being applied. The technique used to apply the wrap will depend on the location of the injury; the wrap must be applied in a fashion that ensures compression, but permits some degree of movement.
Taping is generally a preventative measure taken to protect an athlete from further injury to a previously damaged joint or tissue. Taping is a temporary device, where the applied material functions in the same fashion as an orthotic, providing support and a