Gymnasts spend hours in the gym preparing for competitions. Many gymnasts train for more than 20 hours a week and choose home schooling so that they can dedicate more time to their workouts. The rigorous training and skills required by the sport put gymnasts at risk for various injuries, both acute and chronic. Because of this, many gymnasts must tape their joints -- sometimes to treat and other times to prevent injury.
1. Athletic Tape
Twisting, jumping and landing puts a lot of stress on joints. The landing portion of a skill especially puts the ankle joint at risk, since a gymnast can easily roll her ankle. If a gymnast experiences this injury, the ligaments may stretch and make the ankle prone to further trauma. Taping the ankle in a fashion that athletic trainers refer to as "figure eights" and "heel locks" restricts the ankle joint from full range of motion, helping to prevent further injury. However, tape applied directly to the skin is no laughing matter.
2. Pre-Wrap Tape
Pre-wrap tape is a translucent material made out of foam. It is porous but very durable, and it clings to itself but not to other materials. In gymnastics, pre-wrap is applied onto the skin before athletic tape. Since gymnasts are constantly moving around, the athletic tape can create friction against their skin, causing chafing and inflammation. However, pre-wrap helps protect the skin by providing a barrier between the gymnast's skin and the athletic tape. Furthermore, pre-wrap makes it easier to remove the athletic tape once they have completed their workout.
3. Pre-Wrap as a Headband
Although pre-wrap used to come in one color, gymnasts today can choose from a plethora of colors, such as pink, green, yellow, blue, black and orange. Gymnasts can now color-match their pre-wrap and leotard. Female athletes of all sports also use pre-wrap in their hair to hold their bangs back. This has become somewhat of a fashion statement. Now you can find pre-wrap in many stores, not just athletic sport stores, which makes it more accessible and cheaper for gymnasts to purchase.
4. Pre-Wrap for Icing
After a hard workout, many athletes ice to calm down inflamed tendons and muscles and injured ligaments. Ice after training helps gymnasts with the recovery process. Ice packs applied directly to the skin, however, can be uncomfortable. Applying a couple layers of pre-wrap to the skin underneath the ice pack serves as insulation. Using pre-wrap around the outside of the ice pack secures the ice in place so the gymnast is not immobilized during the treatment. Additionally, some gymnasts use pre-wrap to hold Band-Aids in place during practice.
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