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Kinesio tape: The solution to injury prevention for Wolves

Sport | Published:

In years gone by it was just the magic sponge and a bucket of water.

A quick rub of that in the nether regions and off you went, probably just relieved to shake off the freezing sensation which might have masked the pain for a few moments.

But just like football, medical treatment and physiotherapy has moved with the times.

Ice baths, 'pre-hab', warm-ups, warm-downs, yoga, pilates, GPS vests and analysis, video analysis...a footballer's preparation is more sophisticated than ever before as every club tries to gain an edge over their rivals.

Wolves are no different, and with one of the most advanced medical departments outside the Premier League, are trying every technique they can in the race to stay ahead.

One of the latest ideas is tape – not Gaffa tape, duct tape, Sellotape or masking tape, but Kinesio tape.

This black strips are often worn on the backs of players' legs, making them look eerily like they're wearing suspenders.

But no, Wolves players haven't gone all 'Burlesque' on us.

It's just to protect niggles, as head coach Kenny Jackett explains.

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"A few players have been wearing the tape that runs down the hamstring – James Henry and George Elokobi are just two," said Jaskett.

Wolves' head of medical Phil Hayward takes up the theme and has given a detailed explanation of the functions of the tape.

"The Kinesio tape helps with muscle firing really," said the physio.

"It's a kind of elasticated tape, and, when you stick it on, it almost pulls the layers of skin together overlying the muscles so there's tension and it helps the muscle fibres underneath.

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"From our screenings, some of the lads have maybe been identified as having muscles that maybe don't fire as well as others.

"So we can use the tape to almost facilitate the muscle activities and make sure it's firing as well as it can do.

"There are probably about eight of the lads who use it.

"It's just preventative really to make sure everything is working properly."

Hayward added: "It's used quite a lot – I saw quite a few athletes at the Olympics use it last year.

"It's been around for maybe five years and if you watch Match of the Day, you'll see a lot of players in the Premier League using it, so it's not just us.

"After a game, some of the lads wear long lycra trousers too to help flush the lactate out of their muscles."

Captain Sam Ricketts and Danny Batth are two of the players using the tape to help protect knee injuries at the moment.

Ricketts is currently taking a week off training to allow an injection in his troublesome knee to settle the problem down.

The 32-year-old skipper, who has been ever present this season, has been playing with the niggle since suffering the injury in Wales' 2-1 defeat to Macedonia on September 6, but has so far managed to carry on playing for Wolves.

Hayward said: "Sam's problem caused by hyper-extension of his knee where the knee went beyond straight.

"So we put some tape on the back of his knee to try to give him some feedback and to stop him getting into that position again.

"So we put the same tape on but with more tension on it.

"We put quite a long stretch of tape on the back of his leg so when he gets towards fully extending the leg straight, the tape pulls on the skin, and provides the feedback to the brain that the knee is getting towards the end of its range, so the brain automatically protects that and stops it flicking.

"Danny had a knock on his knee a few weeks ago, and we put some tape on the front of his knee to try to affect the position of the kneecap.

"The tape can be used to help fire the muscles, but you can apply it in a different way too with more tension to actually affect things structurally.

"We're trying to use the tension and it can be used to affect the alignment of the kneecap.

"So wherever the tape is, it pulls the kneecap one way or the other, depending on what you think the issue is that's causing the discomfort.

"So you can use it for a variety of different things but we're using it more than we have done previously."

Batth has been regularly icing his left knee for several days now, but it hasn't affected his availability, and Hayward said the use of the ice packs was a preventative measure.

"After training some of the lads that have had knocks will have ice packs on after training," he said.

"If you come into the physio's room after training, you'll see five or six lads with a bag of ice on somewhere.

"But it's nothing to worry about."

Ricketts won't return to full training until Thursday or Friday in the countdown to the visit of Coventry next Saturday.

Hayward is hopeful the injection plus rest and treatment will solve the problem.

"Sam went for a scan on Tuesday and the injury has continued to settle as we'd expect it to," he said.

"Touch wood, if it keeps settling down, there shouldn't be too much of a problem with him.

"It's heading the right way."

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