5 taping methods for finger joint protection

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Finger, hand, and wrist injuries are common in grappling arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo due to the nature of the sport, which involves intensive gripping and holding.

Why taping?

Taping the fingers is often done to support and protect the joints, tendons, muscles, and the skin against the repetitive gripping and twisting motions used in these combative art forms. Taping the fingers can help stabilize the joints and reduce the risk of injury. It can also provide additional grip and prevent the hands from slipping while executing a movement combination. Taping techniques can vary between grappling arts and depend on individual preferences.

The most common finger injuries in grappling arts

  • Joint injuries: The joints in the fingers can be sprained or strained due to the repetitive stress placed on them during grappling, holding or performing submissions. They can also be hyperextended or bent in the wrong direction during gripping or grabbing.
  • Fractures: Fingers can be broken or fractured if they are twisted, bent, or struck during performing a move.
  • Tendon injuries: The tendons in the fingers can be strained or torn due to the repetitive gripping and pulling motions used in grappling arts, and sometimes fingers also get stuck in the opponent’s clothing, causing strain on the tendons and muscles.
  • Contusions: Fingers or the hand can be bruised or injured due to impact of the opponents, for example, during a throw or landing.
  • Ligament injuries: these can be caused by overstressing the joint in complex movements. Ligaments help connect two joints, and the stress or overstretching of the joint during the sport can cause ligament strains or even complete tears in extreme cases.

The most common taping methods and their purpose

Several different types of taping are used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, each with its own technique and purpose.

#1. H Taping

This finger taping method is used to provide support and light restriction to the joints and tendons in the fingers, which can be susceptible to injury during training. To perform H finger taping, start by placing two pieces of tape on the inside of the finger. Fold the one below the joint, and before folding the other one, band the finger to leave the joint out, then fold that piece of tape above the knuckle.

#2. X taping

This type of taping is used to provide maximum protection for fingers that were injured earlier and require attention without restricting the movement and flexibility of the finger. To apply, start taping from below the joint around the finger, then wrap the tape diagonally on the inner side of the finger. Wrap it around above the joint as well and lead the tape back to the starting point making a cross shape to make a final wrap below the knuckle again. This taping functions like a brace, providing stability to the tendons and joints.

#3. Buddy splint

This taping is commonly used to support an injured finger joint by giving it stability using a neighbouring finger and restricting its individual mobility. When applied, the tape is wrapped around the injured or sensitive finger below the joint line and continues on the finger right next to it. This will lower the risk of further stressing the joint during fights.

#4. Tape splint

This taping offers very strong support by creating a brace to re-establish proper alignment of the joints and to help acute injuries heal. To form a splint with tapes, start taping vertically between the first two joints while your finger is slightly bent, covering the tip of the finger.  

Then start wrapping around the finger from the fingertip until and above the first joint to immobilise it. Anchor the tape by making a figure 8 wrap around the second joint to restrain that one as well, then finish with wrapping under the joint.

#5. Restrictive taping

This technique involves taping each finger individually directly on the joint line to prevent flexion. It is used in case of finger injuries which need to heal in a straight position. Start by wrapping the tape around the base of the finger at least twice, then wrap across the joint twice from the other direction as well. You can finish it by wrapping the tape around the top of the finger twice, however, this is not necessary.

Things to consider when taping

  • Be careful not to tape too tightly so that you accidentally cut off the blood circulation to the finger or hand. Remove the tape immediately if you experience discolouration of the flesh (going blue, purple, or dark red) on the taped finger.
  • Wash any debris, dirt, lotions, or creams from the surface of the skin to prevent the tape from peeling easily.
  • It’s advisable to trim excess hair from the hand to avoid pain when peeling the tape off.
  • Always do a patch test before trying any new adhesive tape on your skin. Leave a small piece of the new tape for 12-24 hours on a place where it doesn’t bother, e.g. inside of the wrist. If experiencing itchiness, redness, discomfort, remove the patch. You can also use an under-wrap tape if you have skin sensitivity or a potential allergic reaction to the adhesive material.

Tape types

The above taping methods are used with rigid tapes as their function is to support and stabilise the fingers. But there are different types of tapes used in grappling arts to wrap or tape the wrist, hand, and fingers.

Rigid tape

Rigid tape or Athletic tape is a non-elastic tape made of cotton or rayon that is commonly used in grappling arts and climbing for joint protection. It provides support and stability, which can help prevent injuries. Athletic tape can be torn by hand, making it easy to apply. It commonly contains zinc oxide to prevent irritation and blistering. You can find rayon finger tape or cotton finger tape in our shop. It is also water-resistant, making it ideal for use in wet or humid conditions.

Kinesiology tape

Kinesiology tape: Kinesiology tape, also known as kinesio tape or KT tape, is a stretchy and flexible tape made of cotton or synthetic fibres. It is designed to mimic the elasticity of the skin and muscles and to provide support without restricting movement. Kinesiology tape is commonly used to tape joints and to tape across multiple joints on the hand.

Cohesive bandage

Cohesive bandage, also known as a self-adherent bandage, is a stretchy and flexible tape that sticks to itself but not to the skin. It is commonly used for wrapping around limbs or fingers. It can add a light compression for better circulation without restricting movement or stabilize a wound to avoid infection. The cohesive bandage is also water-resistant, making it ideal for use in wet or humid conditions.

About the author

J. Amor

A writer who has a strong passion for martial arts and human mind-body-spirit optimization, with a decade-long mixed training history.