Posts Tagged ‘kinesiology tape for pain relief’

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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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.


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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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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