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Kinesiology Tape’s Many Uses

posted by Tape Expert @ 3:15 PM
Sunday, October 11, 2009

kinesiology_tape_usesFew products have exploded onto the therapeutic scene the way kinesiology tape has in the last year. First developed in Japan over 30 years ago, it leaped from relative obscurity to the international spotlight after the 2008 Beijng Olympic Games. It is now a staple in the practices of progressive athletic trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists and physicians. And the recently-introduced precut kinesiology tape is so simple and effective that thousands of home users are now ordering it online for personal use.

Because of kinesiology tape’s unique actions on blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, pain gate mechanisms and muscle activation, its uses span a wide cross section of conditions. Following is a partial list of conditions that have responded positively to kinesiology taping:

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

Muscle Pain – 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

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

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Kinesiology Taping Instructions for Swelling & Edema

posted by Tape Expert @ 10:00 AM
Thursday, October 1, 2009

ankle_edemaMy last post explained how the unique properties of kinesiology tape allow it to effectively relieve swelling and edema. Now, we’re going to review the correct lymphatic application technique to ensure optimum results.

Keeping in mind that the goal of this type of kinesiology taping procedure is to lift the skin, creating a space between the skin and the underlying tissue, these are the general guidelines:

1. The muscle group under the inflamed area should be held in a stretched position as the tape is applied.
2. The tape should be stretched approximately 50% beyond its resting length as it is applied.
3. The individual strips of tape should roughly follow the lymphatic channels, and a small space should be left between each segment.

spidertech_lymphaticFollowing are step-by-step instructions for applying a SpiderTech Precut Lymphatic application to relieve swelling, edema or lymphedema. Although a similar result can be obtained by cutting lengths of kinesiology tape from a roll, this pre-cut application is preferable, as it is ready-to-apply. The images show the tape being applied to the quadriceps area on the front of the thigh, but the same principles could be followed for any other part of the body.

lymph_application_step_1Step 1: Begin by tearing all of the perforations on the backing of the tape. After determining where the tape will be applied, remove the backing from the anchor end of the tape (Section 1). and apply it to the skin with no stretch in the tape. Rub the tape briskly from the center toward the edges to activate the adhesive.

lymph_application_step_2Step 2: Stretch the underlying muscle group to its maximum pain-free range of motion. Begin removing the backing from the first “finger” of the tape, and apply it in a curve, along the outer boundary of the treated area. The tape should be stretched approximately 50% as it is applied, except for the final 1-2″ which should not be stretched.

lymph_application_step_3Step 3: One at a time, apply the remaining fingers of this half of the application, following the curve of the first piece. Maintain a gap of approximately a finger width between each strip of tape. Continue to stretch the tape as it is applied, except for the final 1-2″. After each strip is applied, rub it briskly to activate the adhesive.

lymph_application_step_4Step 4: Begin removing the backing from the outer strip of the other half of the application. Apply it in a curve along the opposite boundary of the treated area. The strip should cross over the strips that have already been applied. Continue applying the remaining strips parallel to the outer finger until all have been applied.

lymph_application_step_5Step 5: The finished application should be symmetrical and completely cover the area of swelling or edema. Ensure that each strip has been rubbed to activate the adhesive. Return the muscle to a relaxed position. The tape should now appear somewhat wrinkled, indicating that it is lifting the skin and underlying tissues as desired.

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How Does Kinesiology Tape Relieve Swelling?

posted by Tape Expert @ 3:19 PM
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

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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What is SpiderTech Tape?

posted by Tape Expert @ 4:25 PM
Thursday, September 24, 2009

spidertech_collage
In the last few months the athletic therapy community has been invaded by a new breed of spiders. These spiders are leaving their distinctive marks on the necks, shoulders, elbows, wrists, backs, thighs, calves, ankles and feet of injured athletes. Rather than a cause for alarm, as one might first think, this spider invasion has been welcomed with open arms. Why? Because the spiders I’m talking about are therapeutic spiders, made of kinesiology tape … the thin, stretchy “miracle tape” that relieves pain, reduces inflammation and enhances function.

st_nicole_branaghKinesiology tape hit the big time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where many of the world’s top athletes were seen wearing it on their injured or overused body parts. Instantly, people around the world started searching for this therapeutic phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands of rolls of the black, blue, pink or beige tape were sold. Unfortunately, many of these purchasers experienced a let-down after they found it, as they discovered that it was almost impossible to create, cut and apply the intricate configurations of tape without specialized training.

This is where the spiders enter the story … or SpiderTech, to be completely accurate. SpiderTech Tape is the next generation in kinesiology tape – pre-cut, individually packaged kinesiology tape applications for specific parts of the body. No designing, no measuring and no cutting are required.

spidertech_full_kneePulled groin muscle? Try the SpiderTech Groin Spider. Follow the simple instructions in the package and on the back of the tape, and you’ll have your own kinesiology tape application in a matter of minutes! Stiff neck? Try the Neck Spider. Plantar fasciitis? There’s a Calf & Arch Spider that works wonders. A Wrist Spider can be used for carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as strains and sprains. Other applications include Neck, Shoulder, Elbow, Upper Back/Postural, Lower Back, Hip, Hamstring, Ankle and three sizes of Lymphatic applications (designed to reduce severe swelling and inflammation).

The products are backed with excellent instructional materials, both in the packaging and online. Free printable PDF’s are available providing step-by-step instructions for each of the 15 applications. For those who prefer to both see and hear instructions, there is also an instructional video for each product.

Who’s using SpiderTech now? Coaches and trainers are carrying it in their kits. Athletes keep them in their sports bags, for quick application should an injury occur. Many physical therapists and chiropractors have incorporated kinesiology taping into their practices, and are loving the speed, simplicity and duplicability of working with pre-cut kinesiology tape applications.

SpiderTech Tape can be used to treat acute or chronic injuries, as well as to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. In addition to rapidly relieving pain and inflammation, it also enhances activation of muscles, providing a natural boost to performance.

If you’re dealing with strains, sprains, any of the “itis” disorders, swelling and edema, stiffness, fatigue, cramps or spasms, it could be time to go on a Spider hunt!

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How Kinesiology Tape Relieves Pain

posted by Tape Expert @ 5:39 PM
Friday, August 28, 2009

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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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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How Does Kinesiology Tape Work?

posted by Tape Expert @ 3:10 PM
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Knee Kinesiology Tape

Knee Precut Kinesiology Tape

“I can’t even feel it on my skin, but my injury feels so much better. How does kinesiology tape work?

Kinesiology tape is a generic term for a thin, stretchy tape that can be applied to a wide variety of injuries and inflammatory conditions and quickly produce amazing results. The best known brand names are Kinesio Tex Tape (aka Kinesio Tape) and SpiderTech Tape. Other than making a totally cool fashion statement, what is it about this colored tape that has created hundreds of thousands of converts in the last year alone?

1. Kinesiology tape has virtually identical in thickness and elasticity to human skin. This means that once it’s applied, you barely know it’s there. Most applications can be comfortably worn for up to 5 days.

2. When stretched kinesiology tape is applied over an inflammed area, the skin is gently lifted as the tape attempts to return to its unstretched state. This can be seen as a slight puckering or wrinkling of the taped area. 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.

 

kt_explanation_after
3. Because kinesiology tape can be worn 24/7 for up to 5 days, the therapeutic benefits are available to the body around the clock for the entire time it is worn. It’s kind of like have non-stop physical therapy, day and night, for 5 days. This fact alone greatly accelerates the healing process, allowing a return to normal activities much sooner.

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Benefits of Kinesiology Taping

posted by Tape Expert @ 12:41 PM
Sunday, June 21, 2009

Benefits of Kinesiology TapingWhile traditional athletic tape only provides support to an injured area, kinesiology tape does this and much more. It is the only tape that actually has therapeutic effects that include accelerating the healing process. This translates to a large list of benefits of kinesiology taping, that extend far beyond the athletic realm.

When kinesiology tape is applied to the body, the skin is lifted slightly, creating a space between the skin and the underlying muscle. This space allows for enhanced blood flow, enhanced lymphatic flow and relieves the pressure on local pain receptors. This concept will be explained in greater detail in a future posting, but for now, let’s examine the benefits associated with these effects.

1. Pain Relief – reduced pressure on pain receptors helps relieve both acute and chronic pain.

2. Reduced Swelling and Inflammation – reduced pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels, allows better removal of fluids and other materials that collect in an injured area. This applies, not only to sports injuries, but to other inflammatory conditions, including lymphodema (severe swelling of the extremities.)

3. Prevents and/or Relieves Spasms and Cramping – the same features that reduce inflammation can help prevent or relieve spasms and cramps in overused or injured muscles.

3. Speedier Recovery of Overused Muscles – the enhanced circulation helps remove metabolic byproducts of exercise (such as lactic acid), allowing a more rapid recovery.

4. Provides Support without Restricting Range of Motion –  kinesiology tape’s unique elastic properties allow it to provide support to an injured muscle or joint without restriction of range of  motion.

5. Allows Athletes to Remain Active while Injured – this is one of the most important benefits of kinesiology tape for competitive athletes. Applied properly, kinesiology tape can prevent either overstretching or over-contraction of injured muscles. Except in the case of severe injuries, this can allow athletes to continue training and/or competing as their injuries heal.

6. Enhances Strength and Muscle Tone in Weak or Poorly Toned Muscles – certain neurological or muscular disorders can make muscles so weak that it is difficult to do the exercises that are critical to improve daily functioning. Kinesiology tape can improve the activation of these muscles, allowing therapeutic exercises to be carried out. One of the major uses in this category is with infants and young children with hypotonia, poor muscle tone that limits their ability to learn to sit up, crawl, etc.

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