Wearing the Stripes to Ease Pain
Unlike standard athletic taping, which involves wrapping a joint for support and compression, kinesiology tape is placed in a variety of patterns depending on the injury. It is pulled to differing degrees of tension to create the desired effect and is typically worn for two to five days, unlike standard tape, which is used mainly during an activity.
Kinesiology tape can be used to pull back a shoulder that is hunching forward. Or to reduce swelling in a joint, tape can be used to pull the skin and create an area of low pressure where fluid can move and drain, some clinicians believe the tape provides stimulations to skin cells that affects pain pathways-similar to rubbing a spot that hurts.
Tape can be applied along the length of a tired muscle for support. It allows the muscles to go “on vacation” for a day of two so they come back healed.
Using the tape correctly requires specific education and training. The different applications for this modality include muscular; mechanical; fascial; space, ligamnets, and tendon correcting; functional; and lymphatic.
TALES OF THE TAPE
“Beckham has it taped for fitness”
Bright- colored strips of tape in odd patterns are increasingly being seen on athletes. Kinesiology tape can help take pressure off overused muscles, reduce swelling and alleviate pain from injuries. Scientific evidence is mixed, but clinicians and patients say it works.Bright- colored strips of tape in odd patterns are increasingly being seen on athletes. Kinesiology tape can help take pressure off overused muscles, reduce swelling and alleviate pain from injuries. Scientific evidence is mixed, but clinicians and patients say it works.
The June 5, 2007 issue of The Sun newspaper ran a piece on Kinesio Taping, headlined “Beckham has it taped for fitness.” Reporter Eric Beauchamp noted that the star would be “in strapping shape against Estonia…. Beckham has turned to a new craze of binding muscles called Kinesio Taping to take the strain of his back.” Beauchamp continued, “The tape is now taking professional sport by storm as stars put on the tape to give their aching muscles more elasticity.
“Beckham was introduced to Kinesio by Real Madrid’s physios and wore the tape to devastating effect in their last game against Deportivo La Coruna where he set up two goals.” The Sun also quoted Real spokesman Dr. Juan Carlos Hernandez saying: “We’ve been using Kinesio Taping for about a year. Other players have worn it before Beckham but after he was photographed with the tape the whole world is asking about it!”
“The tape is made from a special material with elastic properties that protects and supports the muscles and we have seen it produces excellent results,” Hernandez was quoted.
ESPN noted that several trainers ” reported Kinesio’s use by half the teams in the NBA, although the author conceded that the tape “ can be tough to spot because league uniforms rules require it to be covered by armbands, sleeves or other approved protective gear. ” The story featured Garnett, “who began wrapping his right knee after undergoing surgery in May” and “swears by its ease of use and force of healing.”
“Even Celtics coach Don Rivers uses Kinesio strips on his sore back,” ESPN wrote. The ESPN writer gave a brief explanation of how the tape works and that it is used for “ increasing blood and lymph flow, which decreases swelling and provides support to underlying muscles.”
INTO THE MAINSTREAM
Since it was first developed in the 1970’s, elastic therapeutic tape has greatly enhanced sports medicine professional’s ability to treat athletes’ in injuries, relieve their pain, and improve their performance. And this modality is still growing in popularity and evolving in how it can be applied to meet specific therapeutic needs.
The elastic therapeutic taping method first caught the attention of many athletes and sports medicine professionals worldwide during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. A number of prominent athletes were shown on TV wearing the sometimes strange-looking tape jobs before, after, and even during competition. Some of the world’s top tennis players, long jumpers, sprinters, hurdlers, and basketball players had the tape attached to their arms, legs, and shoulders, and some people immediately wanted to know what it was and why so many athletes were wearing it.
WHY IT WORKS
At its core, elastic therapeutic taping is based on a simple principle: The body has built-in healing mechanisms, and we can speed up their work by removing barriers that impede them. More specifically, the tape provides extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered in the athletic training room. The results are increased fluid flow through an injured area, better control over muscle contractions, reduced pain, and ultimately faster healing.
The tape’s elasticity allows it to stretch lengthwise 40 to 60 percent beyong its resting length, and its thickness and weight are very similar to that of human skin. It is usually applied with help from a heat- activated acrylic adhesive, and when applied to the skin it creates a mechanical lifting effect, expanding the narrow space between the skin tissue and adjacent muscle tissue.
This space is rich in blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and neural receptors. When it is enlarged, intercellular fluids can flow more freely – for example, lymph moves more easily out of lymph channels and into the larger lymph ducts. The increased flow of fluids allows more nutrients from the blood to be absorbed into tissue that’s healing, thereby helping the rebuilding process.
For everyday athletic contusions that lead to swelling and edema, this increased flow has profound effects. Edema leads to localized areas of high capillary pressure, which can restrict lymph and blood availability to a region that greatly needs it. By holding the skin away from the muscle, the tape can relieve this pressure and produce dramatic improvements in healing time for soft tissue injuries.
Opening up this space also relieves pressure on the nerve endings that send pain messages to the brain. With the resulting decrease in pain, muscles and joints can begin moving in their normal, pre-injury movement patterns earlier in the rehab process. The pain reduction also increases athlete comfort during healing.
In addition, this taping method affects the cobweb-like fascia structures surrounding damaged tissue. Muscle injuries typically lead to fascial tightness and scarring, and one goal of manual therapy in an injured area is to stretch the fascia to promote the return of normal function. The tape takes this manipulation a step further by allowing the fascia to be held in a stretched position for extended periods. In the process, it also helps control muscle spasms.
These effects make elastic therapeutic taping different from traditional taping methods, which compress the skin and tissue beneath it. While compression can be helpful to control swelling immediately post-injury and limit circulations to areas that most need blood flow during healing, and sometimes irritates local pain receptors. Elastic therapeutic tape provides support for an injured are without these negative effects.