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Kinesiology Taping for Rehabilitation & Sports Performance

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Posts Tagged ‘kinesio tape pain relief’

One of the things that makes kinesiology tape so popular with injured athletes is its ability to quickly relieve pain from either acute or chronic injuries. Relief is often significant within a few minutes of applying the tape.

I wanted to present this short instructional video produced by the manufacturer of RockTape, a new brand of kinesiology tape engineered to improve athletic performance in addition to providing therapeutic benefits.

The “pain zapper” protocol is a simple taping technique that can be used on virtually any part of the body that is in pain. Keep a roll of RockTape and a pair of scissors handy, and you’ll be able to take care of your “owies” as soon as they occur.

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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). The amount of stretch in the tape can be manipulated according to the condition and needs of the individual being taped. In addition to varying the amount of stretch in the tape, the practitioner can also choose to apply the tape with the muscle in either a stretched or relaxed position.

While these options greatly increase the spectrum of benefits that can be accomplished with kinesiology taping, they can also greatly increase the confusion level for those new to kinesiology taping. The most commonly asked questions are:

  • When should I stretch the tape and when should I not stretch it?
  • If I stretch the tape, how much should I stretch it?
  • Do I stretch the entire application or only certain parts?
  • When should I stretch the muscle and when should I not stretch the muscle?
  • Should I stretch both the tape and the muscle, just the tape or just the muscle?

Although the best way to learn the answers to these questions is to take a course in kinesiology taping, there are some basic rules of thumb that can provide some clarity to the issue of stretching.

easy-to-applyIf unsure of how much to stretch the tape, it is better to understretch than overstretch. Kinesiology tape is stretched approximately 15% before it is applied to the paper backing. Therefore, benefits will be felt, even if the tape is applied as the backing is removed, with no additional stretch. Overstretching, on the other hand, can lead to skin irritation that may require removing the tape prematurely.

When a kinesiology taping application indicates stretching the tape, the anchor ends of the tape should always be applied with no stretch. Only the body of the application should utilize tape in the stretched position. This will help prevent skin irritation or over-stimulation of the injured area.

Structural or Mechanical Applications – Stretch the Tape, not the Muscle
elbow_application_step_3There are two main purposes for a structural or mechanical kinesiology taping: (1) to provide support for an injured muscle or joint, (2) to provide sensory feedback to discourage overstretching or over-contraction of an injured area. This is accomplished by stretching the tape and applying it while the muscles are held in a neutral or slightly contracted position. The amount of stretch can vary depending on the degree of support desired, but the stretch should never exceed 80% of the available stretch in the tape. The goal is to provide an “end feel” that will prevent moving beyond a safe range of motion.

Neurosensory (Pain Relief) Applications – Stretch the Muscle, not the Tape
elbow_application_step_4The purpose of a neurosensory or space correction kinesiology taping is to create more space directly above the area of pain and inflammation, reducing pressure and irration on the pain receptors. For this purpose, the muscle should be stretched to its maximum pain-free range and the tape should be applied directly from the backing with no additional stretch. After the tape is applied and the muscle is returned to its resting position, convolutions should be seen in the tape over the injured area. In addition to reducing pressure on the pain receptors, this type of taping creates an ongoing low level stimulation that helps to override the pain signals going to the brain.

Lymphatic or Microcirculatory Applications – Stretch the Muscle AND the Tape
lymph_application_step_4Microcirculatory applications are used to create areas of reduced pressure above the lymphatic channels in an injured area. This reduced pressure allows the lymphatic fluid responsible for localized swelling and edema to drain away through a nearby lymph duct. When properly applied, a rapid reduction of swelling occurs that is maintained as long as the tape remains on the body. For these purposes, the muscle is held in a stretched position while the tape is applied with a light stretch.

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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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kinesiology_tapeWondering what that funky-looking, colored tape is that so many athletes are wearing these days? It’s called kinesiology tape, and it has become an overnight sensation among injured athletes, people with chronic inflammatory conditions, accident victims and individuals recovering from surgery.

The surprising ability of this lightweight, thin, stretchy therapeutic tape to quickly relieve pain and reduce inflammation makes it effective for a wide range of conditions. Although best known as an athletic tape or sports tape, its uses extend well beyond the realm of athletics. Following is a partial list of conditions known to respond favorably to kinesiology taping.

Joint Pain –  Arthritis, Bursitis, Lupus, Degenerative Joints, Poorly Aligned Joints, Joint Instability

Muscle Pain or Spasms – Torn Muscles, Pulled/Strained Muscles, Tight Muscles, Fibromyalgia, Muscle Spasms, Muscle Cramps, Calf Strain, Pulled Hamstring, Groin Pulls, Strained Gluteals, Abdominal Strain,

Soft Tissue Injuries – Tendonitis, Strained Tendons, Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis), Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis), Patellar Tendonitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Whiplash, Back Strain, Neck Strain, Rotator Cuff Injuries, Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Joint Injuries – Joint Sprains, Dislocated Joints, Sprained Ankle, Sprained Knee, Sprained Wrist, Sprained Elbow, Degenerated Meniscus, Knee Cartilage Injuries, Unstable Joints, Joint Hypermobility

Overuse Injuries – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Stress Syndrome, Shin Splints, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Tension Headaches, Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow

Swelling and Edema – Lymphodema, Joint Swelling, Edema, Lymphatic Congestion, Chronic Joint or Muscle Inflammation

Postural Problems – Poor Posture, Round Shoulders, Weak Muscles, Muscle Imbalance, Poor Muscle Tone, Hypotonia

Rehabilitation after Surgery – Athletic Injury Surgery, Reconstructive Surgery, Joint Replacement, Meniscus Repair, Ligament Surgery, Tendon Surgery

Bruising – Bruising following Injuries or Surgery, Contusions

Foot Pain – Plantar Fascitis, Fallen Arches

Following are some important things to know about kinesiology tape:

1. Kinesiology tape can be bought in rolls or pre-cut applications for specific body parts. Home users with no kinesiology taping training should begin with precut kinesiology tape.

2. When properly applied, one application of kinesiology tape can be worn for up to 5 days. It will remain firmly in place through showering, swimming and even heavy sweating.

3. The therapeutic benefits of kinesiology tape continue around the clock for the entire time it’s worn. Thus, a single kinesiology taping application can be compared to receiving continuous therapy 24/7 for up to 5 days.

4. Kinesiology tape is made from high grade cotton with a hypo-allergenic acrylic adhesive. It contains no latex and no medication. Very few people experience skin reactions to kinesiology tape.

5. Kinesiology taping is safe and effective for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly.

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Part 1: The “I” Strip

kt_body_ankleSuccessful Kinesio Taping is both a science and an art. The science requirements include an in-depth knowledge of anatomy, the mechanisms of injury, and the effects of different taping techniques. The art requirements revolve around designing and cutting an optimal taping configuration for each individual. The blank canvas is a 16′ long x 2″ wide roll of Kinesio Tex Tape. The artist’s tool is a pair of sharp scissors.

Unlike traditional athletic taping, which usually consists of tearing strips of tape from a roll and wrapping them tightly around an injured area, Kinesio Taping is much more varied and intricate. To achieve optimum results, a variety of taping configurations or “cuts” are required.

This is the first in a series of posts examining the different cuts that can be used to create effective Kinesio Tape applications. The “I” strip is the most basic of Kinesio Tape cuts.

kt_cut_I

Functions of the “I” Strip
The “I” Strip can be used for: (a) pain relief following an acute muscle injury, (b) reduction of swelling and edema, (c) mechanical correction of improper movement patterns.

How to Cut an “I” Strip
To create an “I” strip, simply cut a piece from a roll of Kinesio Tex Tape, and then round the corners. This helps prevent the corners from catching and loosening prematurely.

How to Apply an “I” Strip
An “I” Strip is applied directly over the area of injury or pain. The anchor ends of the tape (approximately 1″ from each end) should be applied with not stretch, while the center of the tape should be applied with a light to moderate stretch. When the taping has been completed, the taped area should appear convoluted, showing the lifting action of the tape on the skin.

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us_postal_teamKinesiology tape is becoming a viral marketing phenomenon. Why? Because it works! It is a safe, inexpensive, noninvasive modality for relieving pain, reducing inflammation and enhancing performance. No wonder both professional and amateur athletes around the world are now using it and loving it.

Lance Armstrong was one of the first world class athletes to extol the virtues of kinesiology taping as an athletic tape for sports injuries. Following is an excerpt from his 2003 book, “Every Second Counts,” written with Sally Jenkins (2003, Broadway Books, a division of Random House).

lance_armstrong_book_cover“The team wasn’t just the riders. It was the mechanics, masseurs, chefs, seigneurs, and doctors. But the most important man on the team may have been our chiropractor.

The Tour hurt in a dozen different ways. We were all sore. Sore necks, sore knees, sore hamstrings. Guys got tendinitis all the time. They crashed, or they rode in a fixed position for hours on end, and they got it. They woke up one morning and it was in an elbow or a knee.

The guy who put us all back together was our chiropractor, Jeff Spencer … Jeff is part doctor, part guru, part medicine man. He had all kinds of strange gizmos and rituals and cures, a remedy for every condition. He did things we had no explanation for-but they seemed to work. His methods ranged from basic stretching and massage to high-tech lasers, strange wraps, tinctures, and bandages. If you got road rash, he put a silvery wrap on the injury, and shot you with a laser. George swore Jeff’s lasers made road rash heal twice as fast.

Sometimes he did things to parts of your body that didn’t hurt. Let’s say your foot hurt. He’d shoot the laser at your neck, and talk to you about “nerve connections,” while you half-listened. But the next day, your foot would be better.

But Jeff had something that was better than any laser, wrap, or electric massager. He had The Tape. It was a special hot-pink athletic tape that came from Japan and seemed to have special powers. George got a problem with his lower back. Jeff turned him around and started putting hot-pink tape on it. George thought, “How can that help?” But the next day the pain had disappeared – it was gone.

” … it could fix things. It could seriously fix things …”

We swore by Jeff’s pink tape. He would tape the hell out of anything. You had a tweaky knee? He taped it. A guy would start to get tendinitis and he’d say, “Don’t worry. No problem. We’ll tape it.” We all had pink tape on our legs.

Every morning before the stage, he’d tape us all up, different parts of our bodies. He’d do George’s back, Chechu’s knees. Sometimes we’d be so wrapped up in hot-pink tape that we’d look like dolls, a bunch of broken dolls.

One day, Johan went to him and said, “The tape is too flashy. People see the tape, and they think we’re all screwed up.” Jeff said, “What do you want me to do?”

“Tone down the tape,” he said. “Can’t you get the gray color?” But the pink tape worked, so we kept it, because it could fix things. It could seriously fix things.”

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kt_athlete_cyclistsThe recent explosion of kinesiology taping in North America and around the world isn’t just a fad that will be popular today and gone tomorrow. Kinesiology taping is a well-researched, clinically proven therapeutic modality that started as an athletic wrapping tape, but has now earned its place in hospitals, therapy clinics, trainers’ kits and athletes’ bags. Kinesiology tape can be applied quickly and produces rapid results. The “Big 3” therapeutic benefits of kinesiology taping include:

1. Pain Relief
2. Reduction of Swelling and Inflammation
3. Structural Support without Loss of Range of Motion

Today I’m going to focus on how kinesiology taping relieves pain.  The physical qualities of kinesiology tape that are important in pain relief are its thinness and its elasticity, both of which are virtually identical to the same qualities in human skin.

For maximum pain relief, the affected muscle or muscle group should be held in a stretched position as the tape is applied. After the tape has been applied and the muscle returns to its resting position, the tape will appear slightly puckered or ridged. Pain relief is often rapid and dramatic. In simplest terms, there are two main mechanisms at play:

1. Mechanical Effect
kinesiology_tape_pain_reliefThe puckering of the tape indicates that the upper layers of skin have been lifted slightly from the tissues below. This lifting action relieves pressure and irritation on the pain receptors directly under the skin, rapidly reducing the pain signals they send to the brain.

2. Neurological Effect
Although the conscious sensation from a kinesiology taping application disappears very quickly, it actually produces an ongoing low level sensory stimulation for the entire time it is worn. Although virtually undetectable to the wearer, this sensory stimulation productes a continuous loop of stimulation from the muscle to the brain and back again. Because of its ongoing nature, this stimulation is able to interfere with and override many of the pain signals from the injured area.

My next post will discuss proper application techniques when kinesiology taping for pain relief.

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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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