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Archive for the ‘How Kinesiology Tape Works’ Category

Kinesio TapingNow that you know what kinesiology tape is and the different types that are available, the logical next step is to educate you about how it is used. Kinesiology taping takes a completely different approach to athletic taping than the rigid, immobilizing sports tapes most athletes are familiar with. This approach evolved from the desire of many athletes to continue to train and compete as they recovered from their injuries. While rigid taping techniques make this difficult because of the immobilization of the injured areas, the elasticity of kinesiology tape allows an effective taping to be accomplished without restricting a normal range of motion. This reduces the need to compensate with uninvolved muscle groups, which can negatively effect both function and performance.

Kinesiology Taping for Achilles or Calf InjuryFirst introduced by the makers of Kinesio Tex Tape as the Kinesio Taping Method, the technique involves applying tape directly over an injured area, as well as around its perimeter. In most cases, the muscles should be held in a stretched position while the tape is applied. Unless the goal is to provide structural support, the tape itself does not usually require additional stretching as it is applied. The natural elasticity of the tape creates a microscopic lifting action of the skin, which activates both neurological and circulatory healing mechanisms. Reduced pressure on pain receptors can rapidly relieve acute pain, while improved blood flow and lymphatic drainage reduce swelling and facilitate healing.

With slight variations in taping technique, kinesiotaping can accomplish all of the following:

  1. Provide structural support to joints and muscles without restricting a healthy range of motion.
  2. Correct improper muscle function by providing neurosensory feedback during movement.
  3. Relieve pain from both acute injuries and chronic pain conditions.
  4. Reduce swelling and inflammation through enhanced lymphatic drainage.
  5. Accelerate healing via improved blood flow to injured tissues.
  6. Prevent overuse and overcontraction of  working muscles.
  7. Accelerate recovery from intense exercise.
  8. Reestablish normal muscle activation following an injury.
  9. Increase muscle tone in injured or neurologically inhibited muscles.
  10. Delay fatigue and improve endurance through enhanced muscle ‘snap back.’

Buy KT Tape like Mardy's WearingProfessional tennis players maintain a brutal schedule of training and tournament play. With major events scheduled throughout the year, there is no “off season” for touring tennis pros. Maintaining such a high level of activity week after week and month after month takes a toll on the body. Tour players are continually dealing with a host of aches and pains, ranging from annoying overuse syndromes to major traumatic injuries.

Kinesiology tape provides athletes with a solution for working through minor injuries and recovering faster from major injuries. In addition, it can enhance endurance and performance during training sessions and matches, as well as accelerate recovery after intense exercise.

Unlike traditional athletic tape that is tight and restrictive, kinesiotape provides support without limiting range of motion. It is water resistant and breathable, and can be worn for up to 5 days, even through intense exercise, showering or swimming.

No wonder we’re seeing players sporting colorful configurations of kinesiology tape at all of the major tournaments!

rocktape_runner_2Kinesiology tape has become a mainstream item in the treatment of sports injuries and other health conditions involving pain, inflammation and muscle dysfunction. Now, however, a new kinesiology tape combined with a new kinesiology taping technique is helping athletes run faster, jump higher and last longer.

The tape is called RockTape, a kinesiology tape engineered especially for performance athletes. The taping technique is called PowerTaping, and involves taping entire “kinetic chains” responsible for specific athletic activities. This post is going to focus on the features of RockTape that allow it to enhance athletic performance.

Most kinesiology tapes have a 130-140% longitudinal stretch that is the key to the amazing pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits they produce. Rock Tape, however, has a 190% longitudinal stretch, coupled with a high-quality nylon reinforcement of the cotton fibers. This gives RockTape a superior “snap back” ability compared to other kinesiology tapes, similar to the difference between a strong, thick rubber band and a weaker, thinner one.

rocktape-fiber-stretchedRockTape Elastic Fiber – Stretched Position

This enlarged photograph shows a single strand of Rock Tape elastic fiber in the stretched position. Note the similarity to the coils in a spring.

RockTape Fiber Relaxed

RockTape Elastic Fiber – Relaxed Position

The tightly wound elastic coils allow the tape to snap back to its resting position very quickly when released. When RockTape is stretched, then applied to a muscle that is contracting and relaxing, the recoil properties of the tape help the muscles return to a resting state more quickly after every contraction.

This assistance in returning to a resting position allows muscles to expend less energy as they continually contract and relax. This results in less muscle fatigue and greater endurance – a huge benefit to athletes in all endurance sports. Power athletes can also benefit from the same principle, as the snap back phenomenon enhances the speed and power of the contraction/relaxation cycle.

Click here to learn more about PowerTaping techniques for athletes.

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tape_comparisonThere’s no longer any doubt that kinesiology tape has earned a spot alongside traditional athletic tape in the first aid kits of trainers, coaches and athletes. Now the question that’s arising is, “When should I use traditional athletic tape and when should I use kinesiology tape?”

The first thing to make clear is that kinesiology tape is not intended to replace sports tape. The two types of tape have completely different functions, and both have important applications in the treatment of sports injuries. The purpose of this post is to help new users understand the difference between the two types of tape, as well as when to use each.

Appearance

rocktape_colors_verticalTraditional sports tape comes only in rolls and is usually white. Kinesiology tape comes in both rolls and in precut applications for different parts of the body. Kinesiology tape also comes in a wider variety of colors, the most common being black, blue, pink and beige. A new kinesiology tape called RockTape, has combined fashion with function by offering 12 colors and patterns, including biohazard, black and white cow pattern, logo tape, and white and yellow “instant message” tape!

Properties

Traditional athletic tape is thick and non-elastic. It can retain moisture for extended periods of time, which can cause skin irritation if not removed quickly. Kinesiology tape, on the other hand, is thin and stretchy, with properties almost identical to human skin. Because it is so porous, it releases moisture easily, allowing it to dry quickly after sweating, swimming or showering.

Adhesive

The adhesive backing on regular sports tape is typically very strong, and can cause significant skin irritation or breakdown if applied directly to the skin. For this reason, a non-adhesive pre-wrap is generally used to prevent direct contact between the tape and the skin. This allows the tape to adhere to the pre-wrap and to itself, without actually sticking to the skin. Kinesiology tape uses a much gentler, acrylic adhesive that almost eliminates the incidence of skin irritation. The combination of this hypoallergenic adhesive with the elasticity of the tape allows kinesiology tape to be comfortably worn for up to 5 days per application.

Application Techniques

taped_ankleConventional athletic tape is wrapped tightly around an injured joint or muscle in overlapping layers until the area is virtually immobilized. The compression created by this technique reduces circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid, which could cause additional damage to an injured area if left on too long. For this reason, sports tapings are generally done a short time before an activity, and removed immediately following its completion.

ankle_spider_pinkThis differs greatly from kinesiology tape, which is almost never wrapped completely around any part of the body. Instead, it is applied directly over and around the borders of an injured muscle group or joint. The elasticity actually enhances both blood flow and removal of lymphatic fluid, which allows kinesiology tape to provide true therapeutic benefits. Because there are no limitations within a safe range of motion, athletes can continue to train and/or compete while wearing kinesiology tape.

Functions

The main function of regular sports tape is to provide support and stability to an injured joint or muscle group by immobilizing it. This would be the taping method of choice in cases of severe injury, where any movement of the injured area could result in additional damage. Traditional taping is also indicated in situations where joint instability is so extreme that a tight tape job is necessary to provide additional support.

The elastic properties of kinesiology tape make it unsuitable in situations where extreme support and stabilization are required. On the other hand, this same elasticity allows kinesiology tape to provide outstanding therapeutic benefits in the areas of recovery and rehabilitation. Because it increases both blood flow and lymphatic drainage, a kinesiology tape application can rapidly relieve swelling and inflammation, as well as accelerate the healing process. Other properties allow it to relieve both acute and chronic pain, which all injured athletes welcome. As pain and inflammation recede, normal muscle activation can be restored, returning strength and coordination to injured areas.

A new, promising application for kinesiology tape is the possibility of safe, natural performance enhancement in healthy athletes. Check out my previous posts on Rock Tape to learn more about this exciting development.

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rocktape_with_logo

RockTape has become the new buzzword on the Ironman circuit these days. It’s “active recovery” properties are helping endurance athletes go stronger, longer–and then recover faster after they’ve finished. My last post briefly outlined five key features that allow RockTape to slow the onset of fatigue and accelerate the process of recovery. This post examines each of these features in greater detail:

1. Greater Elasticity

While most kinesiology tapes have 130-150% stretch, RockTape offers 190% elasticity, giving it a higher tensile strength than other tapes. This allows it to provide superior reinforcement of proper movement patterns, increasing the efficiency of movement. Increased efficiency is directly related to reduced fatigue.

2. Enhanced Lifting Ability

The additional elasticity provides a more consistent lifting of the skin over the taped area, enhancing blood flow to the working muscles. This delays the onset of fatigue during training/competition, and accelerates recovery via a more rapid removal of lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts.

3. Tighter Weave

RockTape is made from 97% high-grade cotton, reinforced with 3% nylon 6/12. This allows RockTape  to provide superior structural support, without compromising range of motion.

4. Greater “Snap Back”

The combination of the tighter weave pattern and the enhanced elasticity give RockTape a greater “snap back” or recoil effect. This allows muscles to move more quickly through the contraction/relaxation cycles responsible for movement. The more quickly a muscle can return to a resting state after contracting, the more quickly it can generate the next stimulus to continue its activity.

5. Patented Adhesive Pattern

The acrylic adhesive on RockTape is stickier than other tapes. It is also applied in a new Plow Pattern that looks similar to the tread on a tire. Think of how a tire tread channels water away from the surface to create better contact and less slippage on the road. RockTape’s adhesive backing has the same effect on skin. This allows it to more efficiently remove water and sweat, creating the best “stickability” in the industry.

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kinesiology_tape_rollsOne of the features that makes kinesiology tape different from other types of therapeutic tape is its elasticity. Kinesiology tape is designed to stretch up to 40% beyond its “resting” length (i.e., its length with the paper backing still applied).

This “stretchability factor” greatly increases the therapeutic benefits available from kinesiology taping as opposed to traditional athletic taping techniques. This post will provide a general overview of the benefits associated with the elastic properties of kinesiology tape. The following information is equally applicable to both formats of kinesiology tape currently available: Kinesiology Tape by the Roll (brand names Kinesio Tex Tape and SpiderTape), and Pre-Cut Kinesiology Tape Applications (brand name SpiderTech Tape).

 The Benefits of Stretchable Kinesiology Tape

  • kinesiology_tape_athletesWhen kinesiology tape is stretched as it is applied to the skin, it creates a microscopic lifting of the skin in the taped area. This relieves pressure on the local pain receptors, reducing irritation, pain and spasms. Conventional athletic tape, on the other hand, can actually increase pain in an acutely injured area as it does not accomodate to swelling or movement.
  • This lifting action also allows for enhanced circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid. Increased bloodflow accelerates healing by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues, while improved lymphatic drainage reduces swelling, edema and inflammation.
  • The elastic properties of kinesiology tape allow it to provide therapeutic benefits to an injured or painful area without the rigid compression of traditional taping. This means that kinesiology taping applications can be safely left in place for several days, as opposed to conventional athletic tape that must be removed within hours because of reduced circulation. In fact, the longer a kinesiology taping application is worn, the better, since the therapeutic benefits continue to accrue for the entire time it is worn.
  • The elasticity of kinesiology tape makes it the preferred method of taping for injured athletes who desire to continue training and/or competing as they recover from their injuries. When applied with the appropriate amount of stretch, kinesiology tape can provide support to an injured area, preventing harmful overstretching or over-contraction, without restricting a healthy range of movement.
  • When stretched kinesiology tape is applied to the skin, the ongoing sensory stimulation from the tape can override pain signals from an injured or inflamed area, providing a safe, non-pharmaceutical approach to pain relief.

Watch for upcoming posts providing more detailed guidelines for stretching tape and muscles in kinesiology taping applications.

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kinesio_web_cutPart 5 – The Web Strip

Web strips are pieces of kinesiology tape with solid ends and 4-6 longitudinal cuts extending through the center section. When applied to the skin, the strips are separated from each other by pulling the center of each strip away from the center of the treatment area.

These complex-looking applications are designed to lift the skin above a painful, swollen area, relieving pressure on pain receptors and enhancing lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling and edema.

kt_cut_webHow to Cut a Web Strip

Place the joint into a position of maximum stretch to measure the length of tape required. Cut a piece of Kinesio Tape to the desired length, then bring the ends together folding the tape in half. Make parallel longitudinal cuts from the fold towards the ends of the tape, leaving approximately 1” uncut at the end.

How to Apply a Web Strip

There are two different methods for applying web strips:
1. Place the joint to be taped into a position of maximum stretch. Apply one end of the web strip with no stretch just below the area to be treated. One at a time, remove the backing from the web strips, and apply them over the treatment area. Begin with an outside strip, stretching the center portion slightly away from the treatment area. Maintain a separation of at least 1/4″ between each strip. Finally, apply the other base end, also with no stretch in the tape.

2. Place the joint to be taped into a position of maximum stretch. Begin by tearing the paper backing in the middle of each web strip. One at a time, peel back the backing from one end of each strip and apply to the treatment area with a light stretch. Maintain a separation of at least 1/4″ between strips as they are laid down. When all strips have been applied, remove the backing from the ends and apply with no stretch.

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One of the most amazing benefits of kinesiology taping is its ability to reduce swelling or edema. When properly applied, the results are often rapid, and are maintained as long as the tape is worn. What is it about this therapeutic tape that allows it to relieve swelling as no other modality can? First, a little background info.

Introduction to the Lymphatic System
lymphatic_vesselsSimilar to the circulatory system of blood vessels that carry blood, the lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels that carry lymphatic fluid. Rather than delivering substances to the tissues, however, the lymphatic vessels remove substances, including excess fluids, cellular debris and infectious organisms. Another difference is that the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, and relies on other mechanisms such as osmotic pressure and muscle action to move fluids through its vessels. The lymphatic system is the main mechanism for reducing swelling and edema in the body.

The Anatomy of Swelling & Inflammation
swollen_ankle_2When part of the body sustains a traumatic injury, cells in the area burst and spill their contents into the extracellular space surrounding the injured tissues. This fluid is a major component of the swelling that accompanies an acute injury. When a large amount of this fluid collects in an enclosed area, it exerts pressure on the blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and pain receptors. Severe swelling can actually reduce the circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid to an injured area – the opposite of what it needs to recover and heal.

Kinesiology Tape Increases Lymphatic Drainage
st_body_lymphatic_1When kinesiology tape is applied to an inflamed area, the lifting motion of the tape creates a space between the top layer of skin and the underlying tissues. This space creates a pressure gradient between this area and the surrounding tissues that allows fluids to move into the lymphatic vessels and be eliminated from the body.  In addition, enhanced muscle activation increases the muscle pump pushing more fluid through the lymphatic vessels. The result? Swelling goes down, pain is relieved, and the healing process is accelerated!

My next post will discuss how to apply kinesiology tape to facilitate lymphatic drainage.

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