WHAT IS KINESIOLOGY TAPE
Kinesiology tape is an adhesive sports tape that is designed to be wearable for several days. The tape facilitates the body’s natural healing process while providing support to muscles, soft tissue, and joints without restricting range of motion. It is a tool that can be safely used in conjunction with other modalities and treatments performed by a trained medical professional. It can help to prevent and heal injury, correct movement dysfunctions, decrease pain and inflammation, unload tissue via decompression, and provide a novel stimulus that improves the bodies overall awareness.
It has been used by physical therapists for over 30 years and has recently gained popularity when elite athletes in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games were seen utilizing the tape for injuries and performance.
Kinesiology tape can be used for a variety of injuries with people ranging from elite athletes, weekend warriors, geriatrics, and even pediatric patients.
WHEN TO USE KINESIOLOGY TAPE
To get the full benefits from Kinesiotape a thorough soft tissue assessment needs to be performed by a trained medical professional. One of the most common uses is to help relieve pain so that the patient’s movements do not become altered and cause suboptimal movement patterns that can lead to injuries.
The tape can also be used to correct functional movement patterns by retraining the way the patient is moving through proprioceptive feedback. Proprioception is the body’s ability to know its spatial awareness, which is enhanced by the tape’s somatosensory abilities. The tape is helpful for correcting posture and for fluid dynamics to reduce swelling and bruising. It also provides extended soft tissue mobilizations to prolong the benefits of manual therapy that was previously performed in the clinical setting. These benefits can last for several days and can lead to quicker recovery and improved results.
Some common injuries kinesiology tape can aide in healing include low back pain, patellofemoral pain syndrome, plantar fasciitis, swelling due to an ankle sprain, tennis elbow, generalized knee and shoulder pain, etc.
EFFECTS OF KINESIOLOGY TAPE
The main effects seen with the use of kinesiology tape are pain modification, decompression, and neurosensory input. Tissue decompression is seen as a mechanical decompression when the tape is applied to the skin which has two primary effects on the body.
1) Relieves pressure from the free nerve endings in the tissue that is responsible for pain can immediately reduce perceived pain.
2) The decompression action of the tape allows better circulation to and from the areas taped. This is due to the principle of fluid dynamics where the skin is lifted by the tape forming convolutions in the skin which increases interstitial space. This allows for a decrease in inflammation and swelling at the injury site and aides in the performance and recovery effects.
Kinesiology taping is also known for the stimulation it provides to a variety of sensory nerves in the skin and underlying tissue. It lifts and creates shearing patterns in the skin and underlying tissues, leading to a neurological effect. This cascade sends an alteration of the afferent signals returning from the taped area to the brain. As a result, the brain’s response changes to the incoming information which alters the efferent signals received at the taped area. Due to this afferent/ efferent response in the skin stimulation created by the tape, it can alter proprioception, muscle contraction timing, and force output, as well as range of motion.
PAIN -GATE THEORY
Nociception is the ability to feel pain at the conscious level of the brain which shares pathways in the nervous system with movement and proprioception. This is where the pain-gate theory comes in and it is why people naturally deal with their pain in similar ways. For instance, when you hit a body part against something hard and it hurts, you tend to rub the area and it feels better. “Walking it off” helps reduce the pain of many sports injuries because the movement decreases the sensation of pain. Nociception will bombard the brain and be perceived as pain, and the less “interference” that occurs with those signals the more pain is perceived. Kinesiology tape, when placed correctly, acts as that “interference” by stimulating the larger myelinated non-nociceptive fibers of the skin which decreases pain and encourages correct movements. According to this theory, when larger, faster (myelinated) nerve fibers start firing more frequently, similar to when the skin is stimulated or there is movement in the body, this “closes the gate” to the nociception signals and calms the perception of pain.
PRECAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Users should be cautious to have kinesiology tape applied if they are allergic to adhesives such as Band-Aids. Having a trained professional apply the tape is necessary so it is not applied improperly to sensitive/allergic areas such as the posterior knee, neck triangles, medial arm, axilla, anterior elbow, and high traffic areas such as hands and feet. It is also important to note that kinesiology tape is a mobility tape, not a stability tape. For this reason, the tape should always be applied to increase and encourage movement, never to prevent movement.
Contraindications to using kinesiology tape include: over open wounds, over a skin infection, active cancer, deep vein thrombosis, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure.
Kinesiology tape can be an effective treatment when used in conjunction with other skilled therapeutic and manual therapy interventions. The use of this tape has shown positive results in the clinic and in the research that it prolongs the effects of therapy administered in the clinic. Taping can be applied in several ways and has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, optimize performance, prevent injury and promote good circulation and healing, and assist in returning the body to homeostasis. Call us today for more information on the appropriate treatment and how we can help you.