1. WHAT EXACTLY IS KINESIO TAPING AND WHAT IS IT FOR?
Kinesio taping is a modern, non-invasive (it’s not dangerous) method, which affects the tension in the muscles, ligaments or tendons, by increasing or decreasing the tension. It works on easy principle when the physiotherapist applies the kinesio tape on the skin in a specific direction, in order to stimulate the receptors in the skin, which through the nervous system leads to release or contrariwise to tension of the soft tissues. It leads also to a increased bloodstream to the tissue, faster movement of the lymph in the intercellular space which causes a faster regeneration of the tissues after overload or recovery of the tissues after injury.
2. DURING WHAT PROBLEMS IT IS USED AND WHICH DIAGNOSIS CAN IT SOLVE?
Kinesio taping is used for treatment of back pain, joint pain, as well as prevention before sport for stabilized joints and muscle stimulation. Furthermore we apply the tape on pregnant women which have a tendency to suffer from abdominal separation, or for support of the femoral head and correct position of the ankle joints.
3. CAN YOU TAPE PREVENTIVELY? IF YES, IN WHICH CASES?
Preventive taping has a significance during activities during which there is a higher risk of overload of the soft tissues. Well applied tape can ward off the risk of sport injuries. Presently it is used in recreational as well as professional sports (such as running, tennis, football, golf, volleyball, handball, gymnastics, athletics, dancing, etc…). Kinesio taping can also preventively help pregnant mothers, by applying the tape on the heavier belly in a way so that the mother wouldn’t feel pressure in the lower back, belly, or the weight of the baby on the urinary bladder or blood vessels that are leading into legs.
4. WHAT IS THE EFFICIENCY (HOW MANY DAYS) OF THE TAPE? HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
Generally it is recommended to leave the tape on the skin 7 days at top. After the seventh day the tape is loosing the efficiency. There’s a wide spectrum of kinesio tapes on the market, with varying quality. However, usually after the fourth day, the tape starts to fall off by itself. You can increase “the life expectancy” of the tape by correct preparation before you apply it (shaving, degreasing the skin, applying on dry skin).
5. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE TAPING?
Men should know that the tape won’t hold on the unshaved skin, especially on the legs. Otherwise it will be pulling during the movement (running, walking, cycling), but mainly while tearing it off from the skin. On public sport events we often meet men who are unwilling to shave their legs and tape themselves, even though they know that after 5 km they will feel some pain. On the other hand cyclists don’t have this problem at all.
Before you will want to get yourself taped up, you should be sure that the skin in the area where you want to apply the tape is not damaged, scratched, with no rash, simply the skin should be in normal healthy condition.
Even though all the tapes are produced with hypoallergenic glue, it can cause itchy skin by more sensitive individuals, erythema (skin redness) and afterwards formation of a rash. It usually fades away after few days when you remove the tape.
6. CONTRAINDICATION TO TAPING - FOR WHO IT IS NOT SUITABLE AND WHY? CAN YOU APPLY THE TAPE DURING PREGNANCY?
Just as any other treatment method, even kinesio taping has its contraindications. First and foremost, it is not ideal to apply the kinesio tape on the skin which has a damaged integrity (open wounds and uncured scars), further it is not ideal to apply the tape on clients who are allergic to acrylic. In such case, the glue can contain many allergens, therefore the client finds out the intoleration after application. In this case it is optional to remove the kinesio tape. It is also not recommended to apply the in on clients with skin diseases such as psoriasis, neurodermitis or on soft and fragile skin. As has been already stated above, it is recommended for supporting the weight of the growing belly during pregnancy or during lower back pain.
7. CAN YOU TAPE YOURSELF AT HOME WITHOUT THE SURVEILLANCE OF A PROFESSIONAL?
Educational videos seem to be very easy, however before we apply the tape, we need to realize what do we want to achieve with the application. By using tape you can stimulate or dampening the area. You can also choose a different technique of taping in case you want to support the activity of the lymphatic system. The answer is therefore yes, you can apply the kinesio tape at home by yourself, but before you do it, you should realize what is hurting your and what is causing this pain. If you are not sure, we recommend to consult the specific application of the tape with physiotherapist who will give you specific instructions: (what should be the correct tension of the tape, whether to tape from up to down or vice versa, etc…).
8. WHAT (RESPECTIVELY WHICH PART OF THE BODY) DO YOU TAPE MOST OFTEN?
We usually get visits from “office people” with back pain, so we often tape the lower back, thoracic or cervical spine, or the muscles around these areas. We also often stabilize sprained ankles, hurtful knees, overloaded muscles on the legs from running or other type of sport.
On the arms we usually tape up shoulders and elbows, wrists or forearms. Pregnant mothers ask for taping on their bellies to get some support, and so the baby wouldn’t press on the urinary bladder and the arteries of the legs, but we don’t tape only future mothers in these areas, but also less physically active people have gradually separating abdominals.
9. WHAT KINDS/TYPES OF TAPING EXIST AND WHAT PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE AND WHAT WIDTH TO USE?
The width of the tape is chosen according to which part of the body we want to apply it. Most usual width is 5 cm (2 inches). But you can get wider tapes (7,5 cm - 3 inches). If we decide to tape the thigh, we can usually use the 5 cm wide tape, if we tape a child’s hand, we can use a half width of the tape. The choice of the width of the tape is thus proportional to the size of the cured area.
The colorful scale of the kinesio tapes may evoke a connection with its function. The truth is that all the colorful varieties of the tapes have the same functionality and the difference is only in the style of the user. The original colorful distinction has a more spiritual context. The japanese chromotherapy categorizes pink color as optically warming, blue cools down and soothes pain, red and black color activate etc.
10. CAN TAPING PREVENT FOR EXAMPLE OPERATION WHICH WOULD BE OTHERWISE INEVITABLE, OR IS IT JUST “ADJUNCTIVE” TREATMENT METHOD?
Generally it can be said, that it’s more of a support for the muscle and ligament tension or correction of the joints. It can also happen that the condition of the soft tissues will improve to a degree where operation would not be needed. The example can be tennis elbow, which forms by the overloaded tendons in the forearm and wrist. If we tape our forearm and elbow area, we will lower the tension, which will cause less stress on the bone, inflammation and pain should fade away, therefore there would be no need for operation. We should also add that taping is just an adjunctive method of treatment, person suffering from tennis elbow has to exercise without which there would be no release from the muscle tension. Therefore the tape alone will likely not prevent operation.
Further information about kinesio taping is HERE
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
Source: Certified training of kinesio taping, informations acquired during studies on university