Taping your fingers and joints in BJJ is very useful to prevent and control injuries. But how you should tape your fingers and joints depends on your exact injury. In this post I explain how to use tape in BJJ for the most common types of injuries.
When to use tape for BJJ
There’s three main scenarios in which you should tape your fingers or other joints in BJJ.
When injured: if you still want to train with an injured joint, you probably have to tape it in order not to have pain while you’re training. People do this a lot when they have one of the common finger injuries in BJJ.
Injury prevention: if you have a joint that’s a little shaky, you can use tape to support it and prevent it from getting more injured.
Covering cuts: you can also use tape to cover up cuts and wounds so that you don’t bleed all over the mat. But this is different from taping joints for BJJ, so I won’t go into this in this article.
Now I’ll go into how you should tape your joints.
Finger taping best practice: buddy taping
The most common way to tape your fingers in BJJ is to ‘buddy tape’ them. This means that you tape the injured finger up against a strong finger, so that it can’t move independently. This also works for toes.
Buddy taping works by limiting the movement of the injured finger, to prevent hurting it.
Buddy taping is basically the same as using a splint, but you splint it with another finger rather than a piece of wood.
You can buddy tape any of your fingers except the thumb, and any of your toes.
How to tape your fingers for BJJ
Usually, you can buddy tape your fingers together.
Additionally, you need to tape your injured finger individually first.
How you do this is by wrapping the tape around your finger, then moving up diagonally, going around your finger again, then going diagonally down in the opposite direction. You repeat this movement until you cover your whole finger.
This way, you basically create an exoskeleton out of tape for your finger that supports all the small joints in your finger.
How to tape your toes for BJJ
If you injure your toes themselves, most of the time you can buddy tape your toes together.
If you injure the knuckles of your toes, you should add something in between your toes before buddy taping them, to limit the mobility of that knuckle.
Make sure that you put the tape tight when you’re taping your toes, otherwise it will easily come off during training. You also want to make sure that you solidify the tape structure by wrapping the tape around your whole foot multiple times.
How to tape your thumb for BJJ
Taping your thumb is a lot harder than taping your other fingers because you can’t buddy tape the thumb, so I actually recommend buying a basic thumb stabilizer.
It’s cheaper than using up all your tape every training, and it’s less annoying than tape in my opinion.
If you use tape, how you should tape your thumb for BJJ depends on whether you hurt your thumb knuckle or the joint in the finger itself.
If you hurt the thumb knuckle, you need to wrap tape from around your wrist, to around your thumb knuckle and to in between your thumb and index finger. You need a lot of tape for this.
If you hurt the joint inside the thumb itself, you need to do the same thing, but work yourself all the way up to cover the thumb joint too.
Additionally, you can tape a split that runs from your wrist alongside your thumb, to make everything a bit more stable.
How to tape your knuckles for BJJ
If you hurt your knuckles rather than your fingers, how you need to tape them is different.
Basically, you only need to tape the bottom part of your finger, rather than all the way to the top.
Further, you should put tape all the way around your knuckles, to stabilize the injured knuckle. So it’s like you’re buddy taping your knuckles together.
Just beware that knuckles are a bit harder to stabilize than fingers, so you might still experience some discomfort during training.
How to tape your ankle for BJJ
It’s very easy to tape your ankle for BJJ. All you have to do is wrap tape around your shin right above the ankle to create a solid base for the tape, and then wrap from there to around the bottom of your foot.
Make sure you wrap your ankle many times with a wide piece of tape, because it’s a big joint and it takes a lot to stabilize it.
Unfortunately, it takes up a lot of tape to wrap your ankle properly. So it’s actually more economical to buy a basic ankle brace – you make the money before you wrap your ankle 10 times.
How to tape your ear for jiu jitsu
You can tape your ear to your head by wrapping tape all around your head.
However, if you’re looking to prevent cauliflower ear, it’s a better idea to buy some headgear. Taping your ear immobilizes it, but doesn’t protect it from impact. You need to get headgear to do this.
Final thoughts on how to use tape for BJJ
How should you use tape for BJJ?
Tape is a tool, and you should use it, but you shouldn’t rely on it.
If you tweak a finger or something else and it doesn’t heal quickly, you can tape it so that you can continue training.
But if you find yourself putting on tape during practically every training, you should pause. Why do you always need tape? Maybe you need to invest in some strength training or stretches to mobilize your joints, or seek medical advice to see if you have serious injuries in your joints.