BRAGG, R. W., J. M. MACMAHON, E. K. OVEROM, S. A. YERBY, G. O. MATHESON, D. R. CARTER, and T. P. ANDRIACCHI. Failure and fatigue characteristics of adhesive athletic tape. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 403–410, 2002.
Purpose: Athletic tape has been commonly reported to lose much of its structural support after 20 min of exercise. Although many studies have addressed the functional performance characteristics of athletic tape, its mechanical properties are poorly understood. This study examines the failure and fatigue properties of several commonly used athletic tapes.
Methods: A Web-based survey of professional sports trainers was used to select the following three tapes for the study: Zonas (Johnson & Johnson), Leukotape (Beiersdorf), and Jaylastic (Jaybird & Mais). Using a hydraulic material testing system (MTS), eight samples of each tape were compared in three different mechanical tests: load-to-failure, fatigue testing under load control, and fatigue testing under displacement control. Differences in tape microstructure were used to interpret the results of the mechanical tests.
Results: Significant differences (P < 0.001) in failure load, elongation at failure, and stiffness were found from failure tests. Significant differences were also found (P < 0.001) in fatigue behavior under both modes of control. As a representative example, in one normalized displacement control fatigue test after 20 min of cycling, 21% (Zonas), 29% (Leukotape), and 57% (Jaylastic) of the mechanical support was lost. After cycling, all tapes loaded to failure showed increased stiffness (P < 0.001), indicating significant energy absorption during cycling. Observed differences in the tapes’ microstructure were qualitatively consistent with the measured differences in their mechanical properties.
Conclusion: In understanding the shortcomings of currently available tapes, the results of these tests can now be used as benchmarks with which to compare and develop future tape designs. Ultimately, these improved tapes should reduce ankle injuries among athletes.
Stanford University Department of Mechanical Engineering, Biomechanical Engineering Division, Stanford, CA; Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Functional Restoration, Stanford, CA; and Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Palo Alto, CA
Submitted for publication April 2001.
Accepted for publication December 2001.