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Archive for August, 2009

cyclists_2Long distance competitive cycling is a one of the most grueling endurance sports in existence. Hour after hour of pedaling up and down some of the most mountainous terrain in the world takes a huge toll on the knees, thigh muscles and calf muscles as they scream for relief. In addition, the forward leaning posture of cycling creates long-term stress and strain on the muscles of the neck and back. With many races conducted over days (or even weeks), there is virtually no time for overused, fatigued joints and muscles to properly recover.

Cyclists are always looking for ways to accelerate their bodys’ recovery – both from intense exertion and from injuries. Recently, more and more racers have been turning to a unique and effective tool that helps in both of these areas.

st_cyclistThis exciting new discovery is kinesiology tape, the very thin, very lightweight, very stretchy, colored tape that has been seen on numerous athletes since coming to prominence in the Beijing Olympics. Applied over a fatigued muscle, kinesiology tape accelerates the recovery process by increasing blood flow and removal of waste products. Applied to an injured joint, it can prevent harmful movement while still allowing a safe range of motion. This is a huge benefit to professional athletes who prefer to continue training and/or competing through minor injuries.

One team that has benefitted greatly from kinesiology taping is Team Planet Energy, Canada’s top professional cycling team. Team Planet Energy uses SpiderTech Pre-Cut Kinesiology Tape on a regular basis, for both training and competing.

Team Planet Energy rider Ryan Roth said, “I’ve used SpiderTech combined with treatment …  and was quickly able to resolve the trouble I was having with my knee with very little training time lost. I’ve continued using SpiderTech during my recovery and as a preventative measure.”

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pain_icon_largeOne of the most exciting developments in the area of pain relief is kinesiology tape – a new type of therapeutic tape that possesses virtually the same thickness and elasticity as human skin. Because of these qualities, once it is applied there is very little sensation associated with wearing it, making it exceptionally comfortable compared to other types of tape.

Another factor that makes kinesiology tape unique is that it actually provides significant therapeutic benefits, as opposed to simply providing support and limiting movement. The most dramatic effects noticed by most users are a rapid relief of pain, accompanied by a reduction of swelling and inflammation. This post is going to focus on how kinesiology tape relieves pain.

1. Acute Pain – Kinsiology Tape Relieves Pressure on Pain Receptors
Acute pain is caused by a recent trauma or injury. Post-surgical pain is also a type of acute pain. The most effective technique for pain relief is to hold the injured muscle in a stretched position while the kinesiology tape is applied. When the taping has been completed, the skin will appear slightly puckered as the tape gently lifts it. This lifting action creates a space between the skin and the inflammed tissues below. reducing pressure on the blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and nerve endings in the injured area. Improved blood flow enhances delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the injured tissues, accelerating the healing process. Improved lymphatic flow reduces swelling which relieves pressure on the pain receptors providing rapid pain relief.

2. Chronic Pain – Kinesiology Tape Activates Sensory Gating Mechanisms
Chronic (ongoing or long term) pain often results when the neuromechanisms responsible for sending pain signals to the brain stop working properly. Like a switch stuck in the “on” position, they brain forgets to turn the pain signals off, even after the trauma has been resolved. This pain is abnormal because it is out of proportion to the severity of the injury. At this point, it becomes detrimental, as it has far-reaching effects on both muscle function and quality of life.

A simple application of kinesiology tape helps relieve chronic pain in several ways. The sensation of the tape on the skin stimulates several types of pain receptors, including some called merkel cells. After the tape is applied these cells begin to notice the minute sensations coming from the tape, and begin to tune into them. In simplified terms, the stimulation provided by the kinesiology tape interrupts, then overrides the pain signals going to the brain, effectively breaking the abnormal pain cycle.

Because a single kinesiology tape application is worn continuously for 3-5 days, the pain relief benefits can accrue over this entire period of time. Kinesiology tape is truly a breakthrough in non-pharmaceutical management of both acute and chronic pain.

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“Kinesio® Taping is very versatile, and the tape supports the injury while maintaining full range of motion and comfort. The fact that you use less tape than traditional methods and that you don’t have to re-apply the tape (as frequently) makes this tape a great choice for treating chronic injuries.”

-Jerri Hestwood, ATC

Athletes are a unique breed. They take a lickin’ but want to keep on kickin’ … or running … or jumping … or whatever other activities are involved in the pursuit of their sports. Deciding whether to train through an athletic injury is one of those “six of one, half dozen of the other” propositions. If an athlete stops training and competing while an injury heals, they will face the loss of conditioning, technique and competitive edge that accompanies inactivity. And, of course, for many professional athletes, they also face a loss of income while they recover! On the reverse side, an athlete who chooses to continue training and competing while injured faces the possibility of exacerbating the injury – or, sometimes, developing additional injuries in muscles and joints that overcompensate for the injured area.

Sports tape has always been a mainstay in the toolkit of every athletic trainer. It has been used for decades to support and/or immobilize injured areas so athletes can continue their sport while injured. The downside of traditional athletic tape, however, is that it DOES virtually immobilize the taped part of the body. This may lead to poor technique that can affect performance, as well as contribute to injuries due to inefficient movement patterns.

cyclist_hip_tapeOne of the most exciting new tools used by athletic trainers today is kinesiology tape. Kinesiology tape for sports injuries is a dream come true for both the trainer and the injured athlete. On the trainer’s side, a single application can be worn 3-5 days, providing therapeutic benefits round-the-clock. It enhances and prolongs the benefits of any other type of therapy used, and because it literally goes home with the athlete, the trainer can relax, knowing his work is continuing in his/her absence.

boxer_back_tapeFrom the athlete’s perspective, kinesiology taping applications are lightweight and stretchy, making them totally comfortable to wear. The acrylic adhesive is non-allergenic, preventing the tape rashes and burns that are common with other types of sports tape. In addition, the combination of the breathable 100% cotton tape and the wave pattern of the adhesive backing make kinesiology tape extremely water resistant. Athletes can sweat, swim or shower without worrying about having to remove and reapply their tape – or having it come off in the water.

The biggest advantages, however, are the physical benefits of kinesiology taping – rapid relief of pain and swelling, support of injured muscles with no restriction of range of movement, and enhanced activation of muscles. A dream come true for both athletic trainers and injured athletes!

“I just wanted to write and tell you how pleased I am with the results we are receiving from Kinesio®Tape… As I continue to learn and use the techniques of Kinesio® Taping, I am certain that the results will continue to be positive.”
-Rick Griffin, Head Athletic Trainer, Seattle Mariners

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The following video shows chiropractor, Dr. Scott Swanson, demonstrating the proper technique for applying Kinesio Tape to someone with tennis elbow. This application technique is designed to increase circulation to the overused extensor muscles of the forearm, helping to reduce inflammation. It also reduces the activation signals to these muscles, allowing them to relax and recover from the lateral epicondylitis condition.

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The following video shows Dr. Kevin Jardine, inventor of SpiderTech pre-cut kinesiology taping applications, demonstrating the proper technique for applying the Elbow Spider to someone with tennis elbow. This application technique is designed to reduce elbow pain and optimize muscle activation in the forearm extensors – the muscles directly responsible for the pain and inflammation of tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

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This is the 4th installment in my series on kinesiology taping for tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. I’m now focusing on specific applications for individuals who need to continue their activity despite having an ongoing tennis elbow problem – chronic elbow pain. This technique is also applicable to those returning to activity following a period of rest and/or physical therapy for tennis elbow. The following step-by-step instructions are for application of a pre-cut kinesiology tape specifically for the elbow.

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Preparation
Ensure that the skin of the elbow and forearm is clean and dry. Prepare the precut elbow kinesiology tape by tearing the backing along each of the perforated lines. This will allow you to apply each section individually, creating a more effective application.

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Step 1. Remove the backing from section 1 (the anchor) and apply with no stretch in the tape to the outside of the arm just above the lateral epicondyle (bony bump on the outside of the elbow).  Gently rub tape from the center out to activate adhesive.

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Step 2. Remove the backing from both sections 2 and apply both sides to the skin with no stretch in the tape. Gently rub the tape from the center toward the ends to activate the adhesive.

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Step 3. Remove the backing of section 3 and stretch the tape approximately 1″ longer than resting length so that the hole is directly over the lateral epicondyle (bony bump on the outside of the elbow). Rub to activate adhesive.

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Step 4. Flex the wrist, pointing fingers downward. Begin removing backing from the outside arm of section 4, applying the tape in the direction of the little finger with no additional stretch in the tape. If the tape is applied to the skin as the backing is removed, you will create the ideal tension.

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Step 5. Keeping the wrist flexed and the fingers pointed downward, begin peeling the backing from the inside arm of section 4, applying the tape in the direction of the thumb. If the tape is applied to the skin as the backing is removed, you will create the perfect tension.

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Final View. Be sure to gently rub over the entire taped area to activate the glue. For best results, apply tape 30-60 minutes before sweating, swimming or showering. A complete list of tips for applying and removing kinesiology tape can be found at www.theratape.com/application/tips.

My next post will include a video showing the above elbow taping being performed by a trained chiropractor.


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This is the third installment in my tennis elbow series. Part 1 provided an overview of tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis. Part 2 provided kinesiology taping instructions for acute tennis elbow during a break from activity, with the goal of relieving inflammation and helping the overused wrist extensor muscles relax and recover.

Many people with tennis elbow, however, can’t or don’t want to take time away from the activity that is responsible for the pain and inflammation. Many athletes prefer to “play through” overuse injuries like tendonitis of the elbow, while manual laborers with lateral epicondylitis may need to continue working to earn a living. In these cases, a different kinesiology taping technique can be used to reduce pain and provide structural support for the muscles of the forearm.This technique is also applicable to individuals returning to activity after taking time off due to tennis elbow pain.

Taping from the origin (elbow end) to the insertion (wrist end) of the forearm extensors will facilitate activation of these muscles, overiding the body’s natural decrease in muscle tone and muscle activation that occur in response to pain. The following step-by-step instructions are for using pre-cut kinesiology tape for tennis elbow. The brand name of this product is SpiderTech, and the elbow application is one of 15 different precut kinesiology tape applications for different parts of the body. The following images show the shape of the pre-cut SpiderTech Elbow application, followed by a diagram of the reverse side showing the application sequence.

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My next posting, “Kinesiology Taping for Chronic Tennis Elbow – Part B” will provide step-by-step application instructions for the SpiderTech Pre-Cut Elbow Tape.

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This is the second in a series of articles on kinesiology taping for tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

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Kinesiology taping is an exciting new development in the treatment and management of tennis elbow or lateral eipcondylitis. This thin, lightweight, stretchy tape can be worn 24/7 for several days, providing round the clock therapy and relief for stubborn cases of elbow pain.

Different taping techniques can be used, depending on the desired outcome. For example, to reduce acute inflammation and help overused muscle relax, the tape is applied from the insertion (wrist end) toward the origin (elbow end). Both the muscle and the tape are stretched during application to maximally enhance circulation and take pressure off the inflamed muscle. This type of taping would be most beneficial during the acute stages of tennis elbow when activity levels have been restricted. It will enhance and prolong the benefits of physical therapy when worn between therapy sessions.

The following application instructions are for using a roll of kinesiology tape (as opposed to a pre-cut application, which will be discussed in my next post). The two best known brands of kinesiology tape by the roll are SpiderTape and Kinesio Tex Tape. Both come in rolls that are 2″ wide by 16.5′ long, and in four colors – black, blue, pink and beige.

This kinesiology taping technique is designed to reduce the inflammation in an acute case of tennis elbow and to help the muscle relax and recover. In this instance the tape will be applied from the insertion (wrist end) toward the origin (elbow end) of the wrist extensor muscles.

kt_tennis_elbow1. Cut a “Y” strip of tape long enough to stretch from wrist to just below the elbow
2. Flex the wrist (palm toward inner side of wrist), then rotate it slightly to the outside.
3. Remove the backing from the first inch (anchor end) of tape and apply with no stretch on the back side of the wrist, immediately above the hand.
4. Remove the backing from one side of the “Y” and stretch the tape approximately 25% of it’s available stretch. Carefully apply the tape along the inner border of the wrist flexors, ending just below the elbow. Apply the final 1″ of tape with no stretch. Rub tape to activate adhesive.
5. Remove the backing from the other side of the “Y” and stretch the tape approximately 25% of it’s available stretch. Carefully apply the tape along the outer border of the wrist flexors, ending just below the elbow. Apply the final 1″ of tape with no stretch. Rub tape to activate adhesive.
6. Cut a strip of tape approximately 3″ long. Tear the tape backing in the middle of the tape and peel backing back 1″ in each direction from the middle. Stretch this part of the tape to add 40% to its resting length, then apply directly below the elbow, partially covering the ends of the Y strips. Rub tape to activate adhesive, then apply the ends of the tape with no stretch.

Remember, that this type of application is best for acute cases of tennis elbow, during a break from activity. My next post will outline a different taping technique for those who are ready to return to activity.

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Part 1 – Introduction to Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a very common and very frustrating injury among racquet sport players and others who actively use their forearm muscles.  It is characterized by pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle), that may also radiate down the forearm.

Activities that are especially painful to tennis elbow sufferers include:
– lifting or carrying objects, using the fingers and hand
– squeezing actions such as shaking hands
– rotation or twisting motions of the wrist
– extending or cocking the wrist

tennis_elbow_anatomy_2The symptoms of tennis elbow are caused by inflammation and small tears in the tendon connecting the extensor muscles of the wrist to the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outside of the elbow). It is considered to be a form of tendonitis. Tennis players aren’t alone in their battle with this challenge, however. It can be caused by any activity that involves repetitive use of the forearm muscles, even such simple activities as using hand tools, pulling weeds, painting or carrying a heavy briefcase. Among tennis players, the most common causes are poor backhand technique,  a racquet grip that is too small,  strings that are too tight or playing with soft, wet or heavy balls

Many cases of tennis elbow respond to simple therapies like rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication within a few weeks. Others, however, are more resistant to treatment, and become long-lasting chronic conditions.

There are as many treatments for tennis elbow as there are causes, and many sufferers expend significant time and money before finding the best solution for them. Home-based treatments include elbow braces or supports, forearm straps to compress the wrist extensors, shock-absorbing devices worn near the elbow, liniments and creams, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Medical interventions include acupuncture, prescription medication, cortisone injections and physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the surrounding musculature. Surgery is rare, but may be required in serious cases.

Kinesiology Taping for Tennis Elbow
st_body_elbow_1Kinesiology taping is an exciting new development in the treatment and management of tennis elbow. This thin, lightweight, stretchy tape can be worn 24/7 for several days, providing round the clock benefits for stubborn cases of elbow pain. Compared to traditional athletic tape which only provides support and restricts movement. kinesiology tape actually has therapeutic properties. In addition to rapid relief of pain, it also increases circulation, which reduces inflammation and accelerates the healing process. A well-applied kinesiology tape application is like receiving tennis elbow therapy 24/7 for days at a time.

My next posting will discuss different kinesiology taping techniques for lateral epicondylitis in various stages of inflammation.

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This is the fourth in a series of four postings detailing the “big 4″ benefits of kinesiology taping:
1. Psychological Benefits
2. Microcirculatory Benefits
3. Structural Benefits
4. Neurosensory Benefits
Today I’m going to focus on neurosensory benefits, or in simpler terms, kinesiology taping for pain relief.

Why Use Kinesiology Tape for Pain Relief?

back_pain_narrowRelief of pain is a goal in virtually all kinesiology tape applications. When a person is in pain, it affects their ability to function on many levels. One of the body’s natural protective responses to pain is to decrease both muscle tone and muscle activity. This automatically limits the ability of the muscle to function, protecting it from additional injury. While positive in many situations, this response can be detrimental for an athlete who wishes to continue training as he/she recovers from a minor injury.

The use of a neurosensory kinesiology taping application can relieve pain AND restore more normal muscle activation and function. This is accomplished through several mechanisms, including sensory gating to override pain stimuli.

How to Create a Neurosensory Kinesiology Taping Application
When applying kinesiology tape, the two factors that can be manipulated are the amount of stretch in the tape and the amount of stretch in the muscle. To maximize pain relief through kinesiology taping, it is important to STRETCH THE MUSCLE, NOT THE TAPE.

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1.
Remove the backing from the first 2″ of the tape and apply with NO STRETCH IN THE MUSCLE OR THE TAPE.  This lessens the likelihood of skin irritation and helps the tape adhere better. Rub briskly to activate the adhesive.

2. Stretch the injured muscle to the limit of its pain-free range. Continue peeling the backing from the tape, lightly pressing the tape against the skin as it comes off the backing paper.

3. When you get to the anchor end (the final 2″ of tape), place the muscle back into a neutral position and apply the final 2″ with no stretch in the muscle or the tape. In most cases, the tape will appear rippled after the muscle is released from the contracted position.

4. Rub tape briskly to activate adhesive.

With proper application, pain relief is usually immediate and typically lasts for the entire taping period.

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