In any professional arena there are trends and fads. In physical therapy, a very “hot”
treatment right now is taping with kinesio tape.
Physical therapists and athletic trainers alike use kinesio tape regularly with their clients on many different joints and muscles throughout the body to help with pain, swelling and muscle weakness as well as to enhance sport and recreational activity performance.
How Does Kinesio Tape Work?
All of the effects of kinesiology tape come from the mechanical and neurosensory actions of the tape. Because of the stretchiness of the tape, it mechanically lifts and in some cases compresses the skin where it is applied.
This lifting of the skin where the tape is placed in turn, causes lifting of all the deeper layers of the skin effectively decompressing the tissues beneath where the tape is applied.
It is this property of the tape that makes it an effective treatment for a myriad of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diagnoses.
What Are The Benefits of Kinesio Tape?
1. Pain Relief: Kinesio tape can relieve both chronic and acute pain. Its elasticity lifts the skin slightly which immediately reduces pressure on sensitive pain receptors under the skin. In addition, its stimulating effect on pain pathways blocks the pain signals from going to the brain. Kinesio tape can be used on all muscles and across all joints for many different pain syndromes.
2. Reduces Swelling and Inflammation: The elasticity of the tape reduces pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels and enhances removal of fluids and other waste materials that collect in an injured area. This applies to sports injuries, post-surgical recovery, and other inflammatory conditions.
3. Accelerates Recovery from Bruises and Contusions: Kinesio tape effectively removes blood that accumulates under the skin due to bruising. It is the elastic quality and the lifting mechanism of the tape that is essential in accelerating the healing process.
4. Accelerates Recovery of Overused Muscles: Lactic acid and other byproducts of exercise accumulate in a fatigued and overused muscle. This build up contributes to pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints and limits the ability to continue to exercise. By using kinesio tape over these areas, removal of the waste byproducts is enhanced. This allows for a faster recovery and return to sport or recreational activity.
5. Prevents Loss of Range of Motion: The elastic properties and application techniques of kinesio tape allow it to provide support to injured muscles or joints without restricting range of motion.
6. Allows Athletes to Remain Active While Injured: With correct application by an experienced physical therapist, kinesio tape can prevent overstretching or over contraction of injured muscles. Therefore, with kinesio tape on, an athlete can remain active and can fully participate in sport or recreational activity.
7. Changes Muscle Tone: Kinesio tape can increase muscle activation and improve a muscle’s “ready” state in people who have profound muscle weakness and those with neuromuscular disorders who suffer from low tone. Conversely, kinesio tape can decrease muscle activation in a muscle that is in spasm due to overuse/stress or in people with neuromuscular disorders who suffer from tone that is abnormally high.
8. Improves Posture and Alignment: Kinesio tape can be used on the postural muscles to maintain correct alignment and core stability during any activity, exercise, or sport.
Tips For Using Kinesio Tape
It is best to have an experienced physical therapist apply the tape.
Apply the tape to clean, dry skin.
Monitor your skin as people with allergies or sensitivities can have a reaction to the tape.
When the tape starts to come up at the edges, it should be removed.
Remember, the tape may not be effective in isolation. If you are experiencing continued pain or decreased function, it is imperative to seek the advice of a physical therapist or other health care professional.