Archive for August, 2009

This is the third 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 the structural benefits of kinesiology taping.

The Problem With Traditional Athletic Tape
knee_athletic_tape3In the field of traditional athletic taping, the amount of support provided by the tape is inversly proportional to the range of motion of the taped area. In other words, to achieve high levels of support for an injured area, the tape must be applied tightly, which dramatically reduces range of motion. This is a double-edged sword for athletes who wish to continue training and/or competing as their injuries heal. In some cases the restriction caused by the tape will not allow them to execute the necessary movements to continue in their sport. In other cases, an athlete may unconsciously compensate for the lack of movement in the taped area and end up with another injury!

What Makes Kinesiology Tape Special?
st_hand_applicationOne of the unique features of kinesiology tape is that it can provide structural support without limiting range of motion, as traditional athletic tape does. With the exception of serious injuries that require immobilization or restrictive support, this means that athletes can use kinesiology tape to safely continue to train and compete as their injuries heal. The “soft end feel” associated with a structural kinesiology taping application automatically reinforces proper movement patterns within a safe range of motion.

How to Create a Structural 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. In the case of a structural application, you STRETCH ONLY THE TAPE, NOT THE MUSCLE. The only parts of the tape that are not stretched are the anchor ends – this lessens the liklihood of skin irritation and helps the tape adhere better. Following are the steps involved in a structural kinesiology tape application.

1. Remove the backing from the first 2″ of the tape and apply with NO STRETCH.  Rub briskly to activate the adhesive.

2. Remove the backing from the rest of the tape, and stretch the tape to the desired tension – the more support desired, the greater the stretch.
Important Note: You should not exceed 80% of the available stretch in the tape. If more support is required than can be provided by 80% stretch, you should be using traditional athletic tape.

3. Carefully holding the center part of the tape away from the skin, apply the final 2″ of the tape, with NO STRETCH. Rub briskly to activate the adhesive.

4. If desired, shorten the injured muscle by flexing or extending the joint in the appropriate direction. This will increase the sensory feedback from the tape, providing a physical reminder when an unsafe range of motion is being approached.

5. Press the center section of the tape onto the skin, rubbing briskly to activate the adhesive.

The goal is to provide an “end feel” that will prevent a muscle or joint from extending beyond its current safe range of motion.

My next post will provide details of the neurosensory application, used predominantly for pain relief. Check back for this important information soon!

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lymphatic_vessels
My last posting outlined the “big 4” categories of therapeutic benefits associated with kinesiology taping:
1. Psychological Benefits
2. Microcirculatory Benefits
3. Structural Benefis
4. Neurosensory Benefits

Today’s post will focus on the microcirculatory benefits that can be achieved through the use of kinesiology tape. This will provide details of how one can use kinesiology taping to reduce swelling, inflammation and bruising by enhancing the flow of fluids through the smallest vessels of the body.

swollen_ankle_2The Anatomy of Swelling & Inflammation
When 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 creates 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.

How Does Kinesiology Tape Reduce Inflammation?
When kinesiology tape is applied to an inflammed area using a microcirculatory application technique (see below), 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 encourages the flow of blood into the injured area as well as the removal of lymphatic fluid (swelling). The result? Swelling goes down, pain is relieved, and the healing process is accelerated!

How to Create a Microcirculatory Kinesiology Taping Applicationst_body_lymphatic_1
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. In the case of a microcirculatory application, BOTH THE MUSCLE AND THE TAPE ARE STRETCHED. Always begin by applying the anchor end of the tape with no stretch – this lessens the liklihood of skin irritation and helps the tape adhere better. Next, stretch the injured muscle as far as possible without causing discomfort. As the backing is removed from each section of tape, stretch the tape to approximately 50% of the available stretch and apply it directly over the lymphatic pathways of the injured area. Apply the tail anchor with no stretch.

lymphatic_vesselsBecause the lymphatic system consists of a mulitude of vessels, most microcirculatory or lymphatic applications are quite complex, in order to cover as many pathways as possible. If using kinesiology tape by the roll, the tape is usually cut into narrow strips or even in a basket weave pattern before applying. If using pre-cut SpiderTech Tape, the Lymphatic Spider is always selected. This convenient application is already cut into narrow strips, with step-by-step directions in the package.

Because kinesiology tape applications are typically worn for up to 5 days, this is an ideal modality for long-term treatment of either acute or chronic swelling. Clinical applications range from the treatment of acute athletic injuries to post-surgical swelling control and relief from the painful, dysfiguring swelling of lymphodema.

My next post will focus on the details of structural kinesiology taping applications.

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st_body_collage_450pxAnyone who has used kinesisology tape knows that it has features that make it completely unique in the field of therapeutic taping. When compared to traditional athletic tape, kinesiology tape is much thinner, much stretchier, much lighter … and it comes in 4 ‘designer’ colors! Aesthetics aside, however, what is it that makes kinesiology tape so special?

I was fortunate enough to recently spend time with the Director of Training for Nucap Medical, the company that makes SpiderTape (kinesiology tape by the roll) and SpiderTech Pre-Cut kinesiology tape applications. I learned that kinesiology taping can be used to create 4 unique therapeutic effects on the body. This is the first of a series of 4 postings examining the therapeutic benefits of kinesiology taping. Today’s posting will provide a brief overview of the 4 areas, followed by a more detailed posting for each one individually.

Here’s a quick and dirty overview of the 4 main therapeutic benefits associated with kinesiology taping.

1. Psychological Benefits of Kinesiology Taping
Often casually dismissed as “just a placebo effect,” psychological benefits are a very real and very valid aspect of both healing and performance. Extensive experience with injured athletes has demonstrated that kinesiology taping provides an enhanced perception of stability and support, which leads to a decreased fear of activity. This psychological boost, combined with the physical benefits of taping (see below) allows many injured athletes to continue to train and/or compete as they recover from various injuries.

2. Microcirculatory Benefits of Kinesiology Taping
The microcirculatory taping technique involves stretching both the tape and the injured muscle as the kinesiology tape is applied. This technique produces dramatic reductions in swelling and inflammation. Additionally, it enhances blood flow to the injured area, creating additional benefits. Look for my next posting which will discuss the microcirculatory benefits of kinesiology taping in detail.

3. Structural Benefits of Kinesiology Taping
Structural kinesiology taping applications support injured muscles or joints in both static and dynamic postures. This taping technique involves stretching only the tape (not the muscle) and provides support at the same time as it allows the muscle or joint to continue to move through a safe, healthy range of motion.

4. Neurosensory Benefits of Kinesiology Taping
Neurosensory applications are designed to provide pain relief. In these situations, the muscle is stretched during application, rather than the tape. Pain relief is usually immediate and ongoing, continuing as long as the tape is left on the injured area.

My next three blog posts will examine microcirculatory applications, structural applications and neurosensory applications in greater detail.

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