Kinesiology tape is a specialized type of tape that helps to extend the benefits of my treatments beyond my office, it allows you to “wear your therapy” in between our treatment sessions. This will help speed up recovery while reducing the amount of discomfort you have been experiencing.
Kinesiology tape achieves its therapeutic effect naturally by either making the body do something or helping the body do something. When I want to make the body not move or move in the direction I want it to move I place the tape on in a structural manner. This provides structural support to muscles or joints. Whereas if I want help the body work better and either relieve pain, improve fluid flow or get muscles firing better I will use a neurosensory approach. All of these mechanisms are achieved by activating the body’s own pain relieving and healing mechanisms through the afferent stimulation provided by wearing the tape.
The use of kinesiology tape has been around for decades originally only available in roll formats in which practitioners would have to cut from a roll of tape to create the intended application. However, SpiderTech was created in 2008 to make kinesiology taping more standardized with pre-cut applications that stay on longer and provide easier applications and reproducible results. It was my duty to standardize the education while I acted as Director of Education and Research for SpiderTech and then for Neuro-Structural Taping Technique. This not only makes me a world leading educator on kinesiology taping, but also an expert In the field. It is through clinical experience and correspondence to the thousands of people I have taught over the last six years that has shown me the impressive clinic results when treating muscle injuries, joint strains, neurological patients and both conservative and post-surgical rehabilitation.
Tape as a therapeutic support has been used for many years. The principle method of application was historically only for mechanical control and restriction of movements, which may have been potentially harmful.
The goal of utilizing kinesiology tape can vary depending on the clinical objectives, but one of the main reason’s I use it in my practice is to aid in improving optimal movement and function of muscles and joints and to promote a reduction in the risk of re-injury while reducing the number of treatments needed by my patients. Kinesiology tape’s ability to reduce the perception of pain is a major advantage in the prevention and treatment of chronic pain and dysfunction and therefore kinesiology taping applications play a crucial role in ensuring successful functional rehabilitation and an earlier return to pain-free ranges of motion and strengthening exercises.
What makes kinesiology tape unique?
The development of kinesiology tape was engineered to mimic the qualities of human skin. It has roughly the same thickness as the epidermis and can be stretched between 30% and 40% of its resting length longitudinally. These qualities are important as kinesiology tape is often used to stimulate the sensory nervous system to achieve the desired therapeutic outcome. The tape being the same weight, thickness and elasticity of human skin allows it to integrate well with the human sensory system. Since the tape is flexible, it can be worn without restricting any ranges of motion, unless the intention is to do so in which the tape is applied in a specific manner.
The material used in the production of the kinesiology tape I use (SpiderTech Tape manufactured by the best tape in the world, Nitto Denko Tape) is unique in several respects when compared to other types of tape. It is latex free and the adhesive is 100% acrylic. The 100% cotton fibers of the tape allow for evaporation and quicker drying. This provides the ability of the tape to be worn during physical activity, while bathing and in the shower or pool without the need for it to be reapplied. There are now many different kinesiology tape manufacturers and this provides the practitioner with a choice as to which tape to use.
I always recommend wearing the tape for as long as possible. However, when I use to teach I would always recommend that therapists instruct patient to keep it on for four (4) to five (5) days prior to the need for it to be re-applied but this can vary depending on each situation. Kinesiology taping applications are however a one-time use and cannot be re-used.
Why do I use kinesiology tape?
All painful conditions are associated with signaling between the muscles and joints affected and the central nervous system (CNS). These signals can influence muscle recruitment patterns and lead to protective mechanisms which limit ranges of motion and alters the ability for a muscle to fully contract. Faulty muscular contractions can lead to the overuse of specific muscles and underuse of others. This local change can then spread throughout the entire motor system like a virus on a computer resulting in poor function overall through various adaptive mechanisms. Therefore, a specific, local injury never exists. Pain signals trigger increases in muscular tone leading to a viscous cycle of pain – increased tone – pain – increased tone and this further complicates the ability to fully recover following an injury. The increase in muscular tone which I believe is due to altered smooth muscular contractions seen in tightness in the fascia is mediated by the autonomic nervous system and that is why you see this same tightness when people are stressed. Well, this increased muscular tone can lead to changes in blood flow and some vascular constriction resulting in delayed blood and nutrient flow to the injured muscles. This further triggers painful signals making the already painful condition worse. If left unresolved, the muscle tissue undergoes changes to become more dense and fibrotic with small adhesions forming within the muscle. These muscles are no longer able to contract and glide smoothly across surrounding structures and therefore limits the ranges of motion and the ability for the muscle to stabilize a joint that it crosses which ultimately leading to an increase likelihood of ongoing pain and dysfunction as well as secondary injuries. This is why manual therapy is so helpful as fascial manipulation techniques and soft tissue therapies allow for the breakdown of these adhesions ands helps re-set the nervous system in functioning properly. Following the breakdown of this scar tissue, kinesiology tape is applied to the area that is dysfunctional to either increase blood flow, improve static and dynamic postures or improve muscle function and decrease the sensation of pain. All of which enhancing the healing mechanism started with manual therapy.
Here are some frequently asked questions.
How Does Kinesiology Taping Work?
It works very similarly to how therapy works. In a simplified explanation, by rubbing my hands on your muscles the stimulus excites certain receptors in your skin that allow for your muscles to wake up. In the same manner, with the tape being in direct contact with the skin, it stimulates these same receptors allowing your muscles to wake up. However, if the tape is applied over an area with a lot of stretch applied in the tape then it acts as a somewhat brace and reminds you how to maintain proper posture or perform movements correctly.
Once the tape was removed, the pain came back. Why?
Kinesiology tape has the ability to decrease the sensation of pain which potentially allows for a restoration of muscle strength and mobility. This is part of the therapeutic process and depending on each individual condition and health a patient it may take some time for the effects of wearing the tape to be sustained after removing the application. That being said, you will be given exercises that are to be done while wearing the tape and this helps to solidify the improvements gained in your treatment visit.
How many applications will I need to apply?
Each condition is specific to the body in which it occurs and the frequency and intensity that it occurred with. Therefore, the amount of time necessary for kinesiology taping applications to be worn will depend on the health of the individual, severity of the condition and chronicity of complaint.
What conditions is it good for?
- Acute and/or Chronic Pain
- Rehabilitation after Surgery
- Poor posture
- Swelling, Edema and Bruising
- Muscle and Joint Injuries
- Improving athletic performance
How will I know it is working? How quickly does it work?
Each case varies depending on the nature and extent of an injury. The effects may be experienced immediately due to the activation of sensory pathways or it may take a day or two with more severe conditions.
Are there any side-effects?
Side effects may include irritation to the skin for the small portions of the population who have an allergy to any form of adhesive. If this happens, please contact me immediately via e-mail at [email protected]
How do I remove the Tape?
The tape should be removed after 5 days of application. The tape can be removed by stretching the skin under the tape and then gently rolling off the tape or by pressing your index finger down and sliding it along just in front of where you are removing the tape. Do not remove the tape while wet. Remove the tape in the direction of the hair growth, which is typically away from the center of the body and moving down the arms and legs.
If you have any other questions on this or other topics, feel free to contact me at your convenience.
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CAUTION: The above is only a guide and should not be used as a substitute for being evaluated by a regulated health care professional that has experience in managing whiplash associated disorders. If you have any questions about your condition, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. If you feel that this is a medical emergency, please visit your closest hospital emergency department.