Archive for November, 2009

rocktape_red_logoRockTape Active Recovery Tape is an exciting new sports tape–an upgraded version of kinesiology tape designed to enhance athletic performance. Yes, it still has all the therapeutic benefits of traditional kinesiology tape—relief of pain, reduction of inflammation, and support for injured tissues—but for RockTape, these are just a jumping-off point.

Highly-trained triathletes, distance runners and competitive cyclists who have worn RockTape have experienced greater endurance during training and competition, followed by a more rapid recovery. Whereas other kinesiology tapes are primarily used by injured athletes, the benefits of RockTape are equally impressive for healthy athletes. This makes RockTape the first true performance tape.

What Makes RockTape Different?

rock_tape_cyclistSeveral key modifications have been made to the composition of the tape that are directly responsible for the performance-enhancing benefits that many RockTape converts have experienced.

1. Greater Elasticity

2. Enhanced Lifting Ability

3. Tighter Weave

4. Greater “Snap Back”

5. Patented Adhesive Pattern
Each of these enhancements is beneficial on its own, but combined, they become a safe, simple, legal method of enhancing athletic performance. Rock on!

My next post will examine each of these features in greater detail.

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A New Approach to Kinesiology Taping

rt_cyclist_2In the last year and a half, kinesiology taping has become one of the favorite therapeutic modalities for athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors and pain management specialists. Its ability to rapidly relieve pain and reduce inflammation has made it especially popular as an athletic tape for injured athletes.  Recently, an exciting new application for kinesiology tape has been introduced to the athletic community – taping for PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT.

Introducing RockTape

A new brand of kinesiology tape called RockTape has been engineered with the specific goal of enhancing athletic performance. The unique properties of the tape, combined with an innovative taping method called PowerTaping, allow it to delay the onset of fatigue and improve muscle activation during athletic activities.

Already a favorite with high level triathletes and competitive cyclists, watch for RockTape to begin appearing in upcoming marathons, cycling events and Ironman events.

rocktape_colors_verticalRockTape Combines Function with Fashion!

And, don’t worry, you’ll know it when you see it, because RockTape is also rapidly becoming a fashion trend setter in the athletic tape industry. In addition to coming in the traditional kinesiology tape colors of black, blue, pink and beige, RockTape is available in patterns such as biohazard, the RockTape logo and a black and white cow motif. A wider assortment of colors includes green, navy and new “IM” tape in white and yellow, designed to be written on. The IM tape is being used to write competitor numbers and race information in triathlons, as well as messages of encouragement from friends and family.

Watch for upcoming posts with additional details about what  makes RockTape different and how it works to enhance athletic performance.

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spidertech_collageThe benefits of kinesiology taping are directly related to how well the tape is applied. There are several factors that contribute to a good kinesiology tape application:

  1. Proper skin preparation.
  2. An appropriate taping configuration for the injury.
  3. Applying the tape with the appropriate amount of stretch.
  4. Holding the muscle in the appropriate position when the tape is applied.
  5. Applying the tape in the optimum position in relation to the injured structures.

There are several excellent instruction manuals available that provide detailed instructions for a wide variety of tapings. Most of them, however, require at least a moderate understanding of medical terminology, and anatomy to understand what they say. So, where does that leave the average consumer who wants to work with kinesiology tape, but doesn’t have the background to understand most of the instructions?

The first thing I would recommend is to start with pre-cut kinesiology tape, rather than tape from rolls. A relatively new company called SpiderTech makes 16 different precut configurations for various parts of the body. This alone eliminates the need to design applications and cut the tape into different types of strips. Every precut kinesiology tape product comes with illustrated step-by-step instructions for applying it. This alone cuts the learning curve by a huge amount over learning to apply tape from rolls.

But, the best thing about the SpiderTech products is that each one of them also has an accompanying video of a medical professional applying the tape, and verbally describing each step of the process. And, better yet, forget the astronomical cost of purchasing manuals and dvd’s – these videos are available online, for free!

youtube_icon_largeRecently, I took an additional step to make it easier for my readers to access these videos. I have established a YouTube channel under the same name as I write this blog under, “TapeExpert” (for YouTube it’s all one word). Click on the YouTube icon on the left to go directly to the TapeExpert channel. There, you will be able to access the entire series of SpiderTech instructional videos in one convenient location. If you click the “Subscribe” button for the TapeExpert channel, you will receive notification any time I add a new video.

They say that a picture’s worth a thousand words. With the advent of online video, that should be upgraded to “a video’s worth a thousand pictures!”

Happy watching!

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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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athletes_collageThis is the first in a series of kinesiology taping testimonials, focusing on different user groups. The following testimonials are all from athletes who have benefited from kinesiology taping for sports injuries.

“Something better than any laser, wrap or electric massager. The tape … seemed to have special powers. Every morning before the stage, they would tape us all up, different parts of our bodies … the next day the pain disappeared — it was gone.”
—Lance Armstrong, Professional Cyclist (Austin, TX)

ayesha_rollinson“As a Professional triathlete I need to have control over my ability to train and race to my full potential. A medical team I trust, the best training plan and equipment, good nutrition and SpiderTech are huge parts of my success strategy. Spider-Tech technology ensures that I am able to train and race through strains and aches that otherwise would hold me back. The tape played a key roll in allowing me to race pain free as I recovered from a broken heel in 2008. As a professional athlete I need to be able to push my limits by pushing through pain. With the help of Spider-Tech I am able to simply push my limits.”
—Ayesha Rollinson, Professional Triathlete (Toronto, Canada)

adam_morka“Over the last few weeks, I have been having a re-occurring knee injury that I just can’t seem to get rid of with the amount of training I do. There are days where It has been so bad, that I have to completely stop training, and cut training hours on the bike. After finally running out of options I came upon Spider Tech Applications through Dr. Kevin Jardine. I have been using the upper knee spider and it has helped immensely. The difference between wearing the knee spider and not wearing it, is like day and night. With it on I can complete 4 hour work outs pain free and race at a professional level. It is the most amazing tape application I have ever worn.”
—Adam Morka, Cyclist (Toronto, Canada)

“It just kind of relieves whatever is hurting … It makes it feel better. I guess it’s the way it lays on the muscles, some pressure release or something.”
—J.R. Giddens, Boston Celtics

spidertech_lower_back“… I am running the Chicago Half Marathon this weekend after having a hamstring tear as well as suffering from sacroiliitis … all because of your tape …  I have been using your Lower Back Spider as well as your Hamstring Spider for the past few weeks. If it wasn’t for your tape, I don’t think that I could run this race…”
—Beth Battaglia, Long Distance Runner

conrad_stoltz“Bend ART Specialist, Mark DeJohn introduced me to SpiderTech when I had a chronic posterior tibialis injury in my foot. The SpiderTech calf tape, in conjunction with his thorough treatment, helped me get over the injury quickly. Now I always carry a set of SpiderTech tape kits in my car.”
—Conrad Stoltz, 3x XTERRA Triathlete, World Champion

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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: Precut Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology taping is everywhere these days. From professional athletes to school sports teams to therapy clinics, the use of kinesiology tape to reduce pain and inflammation from injuries, surgery and chronic conditions has become the “go to” therapy. Initially, the use of kinesiology tape was limited to health professionals who had special training in cutting and application techniques. Now, however, more and more home users are trying kinesiology taping for the first time.
One of the factors contributing to the upsurge in home use is the recent introduction of pre-cut kinesiology tape for specific parts of the body. While cutting and applying kinesiology tape from rolls requires significant expertise, most people can quickly acquire a basic proficiency in applying precut kinesiology tape with no formal training. For this reason, I recommend that all home users begin with pre-cut kinesiology tape. Only after experiencing success with this simpler method of application, should home users attempt to work with rolls of tape.

The only manufacturer of pre-cut kinesiology tape for specific body parts is SpiderTech Tape. There are currently 16 different  SpiderTech applications: Ankle, Calf and Arch, Elbow, Full Knee, Groin, Hamstring, Hip, Lower Back, Neck, Shoulder, Upper Back, Upper Knee, Wrist, Small Lymphatic, Medium Lymphatic and Large Lymphatic. The first 13 applications are designed for specific body parts, while the three lymphatic applications can be used on any part of the body to reduce severe swelling and edema.

lower_back_spiderEach SpiderTech product comes individually packaged, with step-by-step application instructions included. The backing of the tape is marked by individual, sequentially numbered sections. After tearing the backing along all of the serrations, the backing is removed from one section at a time, allowing the tape to be applied in easy-to-handle segments. This helps prevent a common problem among beginning tapers – removing too much backing and getting the tape stuck to itself!

The top image depicts the reverse side of the SpiderTech Lower Back application, showing how it will be applied in 5 separate sections. The bottom image shows the Lower Back Spider after application, with the numbers indicating the sections from the reverse side. Every SpiderTech product comes with similar images, making it easy to visualize how it will be applied.

With that said, however, there is a learning curve involved with applying even pre-cut kinesiology tape. It’s a good idea to start with 2-3 applications and not feel discouraged if full benefits aren’t achieved the first time. Experiment with various amounts of stretch in both the tape and the muscle to see which combinations provide the best results.

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kt_athlete_sprinterThe manufacturer of Kinesio® Tex Tape™ donated several thousand rolls of kinesiology tape to athletes at the 2008 Summer Games. The high visibility of the colorful athletic tape on such athletes as beach volleyball gold medalist, Kerry Walsh, has created an enthusiastic following by athletes and trainers from around the world. Among those wearing the colorful therapeutic tape were:
♦ High Jumper, Germaine Mason – UK
♦ Long Jumper, Hrisopiyi Devetzi – Greece
♦ Tennis Player, Fernando Gonzalez – Chile
♦ Hurdler, Paulo Villar – Colombia
♦ Sprinter, Wallace Spearmon – USA
♦ Basketball Player, Alex Mumbru – Spain
♦ Wheelchair Basketball Teams, UK and S. Africa
♦ Women’s Field Hockey Team – China
♦ Water Polo Player, Fran Paskvalin – Croatia

us_ski_team_logosMore recently, Kinesio® has become an Official Medical Supplier for the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association (USSA®).  This means that Kinesio® will provide the athletes on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams with  elastic therapeutic taping products as they train for and compete in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

Kinesiology tape will become more and more important to the Winter Olympic athletes as the games approach because of its ability to accelerate the healing process for many injuries as athletes continue to train.

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