Are you troubled by an unpleasant and extensive pain of your tendons, muscles or joints? Try out popular and effective taping method that might help you. You have probably already met with athletes who have been taped up with colorful tapes on various areas of their body. Perhaps you asked yourself what is this new fashion trend? Don't be mistaken, it's not a fashion fopaux.
It's a form of therapy where you apply this special band on your skin, which can protect you from injury during sport, or if you already suffered from injury it helps the process of recovery. Apart from that it is also used for correction of wrong posture or orthopedic defects (flatfoot, toe deformities).
Other common names of this method : Taping, Kinesio Taping, Medical Taping etc…
Origin of the method
Taping is method developed in mid-70's by japanese doctor and chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase. during 90's the method arrived to Europe, where it found use in physiotherapy, sports medicine. In Czech republic taping has been used mainly by a pioneer Clara-Maria Helena Lewitová (Hermachová) who developed functional taping (kinesio taping).
Athletic tapes are made from 100% cotton without added latex or any other medicaments. It is characteristic by its flexibility compared to classic tape, so it doesn't restrain you in any day time activity or sport performance.
As has been stated above, this physiotherapeutic method is used for healing and stimulation of the muscular system. It is derived into two categories:
1, White athletic taping
2, Kinesio taping
White athletic taping
White athletic taping is known in form of white firm tape used especially in sports. Main purpose of this older method is to fix and stabilize exercised or injured part of the body. The negatives of this method is limited movement possibility, but also restrained lymphatic system and bloodstream, therefore it should be used only for shorter period of time.
inesio taping affects the muscle and subcutaneous tissue. That causes reflexive reaction of nerve fibres, blood vessels and lymphatic system. Kinesio tape in area of physiotherapy can soothe long-lasting pain and brings relief from acute and also chronic difficulties of muscular system. It relieves overworked muscles and soft tissue and at the same time it increases tension in weakened tissues and increases its efficiency. It stimulates lymphatic system and also soothes soft tissue edema. It helps during inflammatory conditions of muscular system. It is used in therapies with children as well as adults. Its popular by athletes as prevention and in therapies for support of stability of joints and stability of coordination.
Kinesio taping in fact works on the “neurophysiological” principles. Receptors (sensors) lead the impulses through the nerve fibres into the central nervous system, or more precisely into the brain and spinal cord. Here the informations, about the sticked object, are processed. The informations are then reflexively transferred from the central nervous system through the motor neurons. Motor neurons are cells located in spinal cord, which have long neurons attached to muscle fibres. Thanks to transmitting, it either reduces or increases muscle tension, which leads to correction tension in painful or overworked, injured muscle or tendon.
The principle in lymphatic kinesio taping technique, is when the skin receptors transmit impulse to central nervous system, they transmit three kinds of information:
- Motor skills = muscle is moving
- Vegetative = blood vessel is opening so the muscle could receive oxygen and nutrients
- Sensitive = you feel that the muscle is flexed
Vegetative information is very important in this case, lymphatic nodes and lmyphatic vessels are opening. Lymphocytes, types of white blood cells with protective immunity function can then deal with bruise and simultaneously decrease muscle tension, speed up metabolism of tissue, speed up recovery of injured tissue and in the end lower pain.
Colorful differences have no effect on the therapy. There is no distinction in characteristics. It works based on principle of japanese chromotherapy. Just out of curiosity, pink color optically warms up, blue cools down and soothes pain, red and black activate, green is healing, beige/body color optically correspond with skin - people usually choose this one where colorful tape would stand out (neck, calf, forearm etc...)
The width of the tape also does not affect, it only depends on which part of the body the tape will be applied. So if we decide to apply the tape to thigh, we use wide tape (5 cm - 2 inches) whereas child would need only half of the width. Thus the width of the tape is determined based on the surface of the area we want to fix.
We apply Kinesio tape to skin that is
- Intact (scars, scratches etc.. must be healed)
- Hairless area (the tape must have contact only with skin)
- Degreased (if you sweat)
Effects of kinesio taping:
- Prolonging the effect of therapy done by physiotherapist (usually till next visit by your physiotherapist)
- Pain relief
- Relaxation of muscle, fascia - vazivoveho obalu svalu, kloubniho pouzdra, tendon and ligaments (soft tissue)
- Better proprioception (sense of the relative position of movement of muscles, joints and tendon receptors)
- Prevention against injuries, prevention against overload of weakened soft tissues
- Decrease of stiffness in muscles, muscles spasms
- Helps to center the joint position
- Increased range of movement
- Decreased edema (supports penetration of lymph into tissue in order to nourish it and drain metabolism products away from tissues)
Wide range of options for kinesio taping:
- Used by athletes as prevention against injuries, physical performance (for example: tennis, football, golf, volleyball, handball, gymnastics, athletics, dancing etc..)
- Pain (wrist, forearm, elbow, bursitis - inflammation of one or more bursae, achilles tendon, knee pain, heel spurs)
- Inflammation of soft tissues (fasciitis - inflammation of the fascia, inflammation of patella, inflammation of sitting nerve, arthritis)
- Cervical spine injury caused by external factors (for example whip lash)
- Sprained heel, ruptured knee tendon
- Intercostal neuralgia
- Sprained discs, chronic spine pain
- Menstrual pain
- Tennis elbow, golf elbow
- De Quervain syndrome
- Dysfunction of bloodstream and lymphatic system
When not to use kinesio taping
- Varicose veins
- Open wound
- Rash, dermatitis etc…
- Birthmarks that are elevated above skin
- Psychological dislike for foreign objects attached to body
- Distinct skin allergies
- Skin inflammation
- Viral and bacterial diseases
Note: these restrictions are only valid for area of application
Your physical shape and good condition is dependant on tension, strength and endurance of your muscles. If you permanently stay in inapproriate position or you perform physically demanding activities, causing long-term or repeated overload of muscles. It will lead to tiredness and worsened physical shape. From a long-term perspective muscles and joints start to get weak and stiff. That may cause tension on the soft tissues and it increases the risk mechanical inflammation of muscles. Kinesio taping stabilizes, lightens and strengthens joints and also soft tissues like muscles, ligaments and tendons, which will provide you with effective protection of soft tissues. Acrylic glue is activated by heat and causes formation of corrugated, perforated surface that is well ventilated. Kinesio taping is water resistant, and you can also use it during sport activities. Usually it is possible to leaven kinesio tape on the skin for about cca 3 days from day of application. The tape won't fall off and will be functional even after it has been exposed to water. Kinesio taping is very elastic and can stretch to 140% from its original length and thanks to that it does not affect movement of soft tissues or limit ordinary activities.
Can you perform kinesio taping without help of physiotherapist?
Maybe it crossed your mind, if it's possible to use kinesio taping at home without physiotherapeutic assistance. Answer is yes, there is no problem to learn how to tape yourself or your friends, with whom you exercise. You just have to realize what exactly you want to achieve by taping. Usage of the tape is depending on the function which you want to achieve. Do you want to stimulate or relax muscle? Or you want to support function of lymphatic system? From all that we decided the length and tension of the tape. It is important to realize where do you feel pain, and what is causing it.
The pain is usually caused by overworked muscles, damaged ligaments, sprained joint etc… from there you should decide which technique you will use. Think carefully if you have to stretch the tape more so it could stabilize the joint and stimulate the muscle. You stimulate the muscle by applying the tape from start of the muscle to where it's attached by tendons. Or you can stick the tape without any tension as a looser bandage, with which you'll stifle muscle tension.
It is preferable to visit taping course or physiotherapist at least once, so you'd have general knowledge about applying the tape. It's important to apply the tape on the whole length of the muscle, ligament or tendon. Some of the video instructions on the internet are inadequatly explaining the application of the tape. Usually the tape is too short and it doesn't affect the tension and muscle function in the whole length from start to end. This is considered the biggest mistake which you can make when you tape. You can't expect then any effects of the correct taping.
Before we Apply the tape we should pay attention to not tape only small part of the muscles, but the whole muscle. Various publications and articles on internet concerning taping, should then only remind us the correct technique. For that you optionally need practice, exercise, but also minimal knowledge of human anatomy.
Where can you buy tape?
You can buy the tape in any drugstore, sport shops or directly by physiotherapist, many institution provide also the course of kinesio taping for public, where you can learn the correct appliance directly on yourself.
The consequences of incorrect application of kinesio tape
Most of you are probably wondering if there are any complications in case of incorrect application of kinesio tape. Although you won't suffer any severe tissue injury with incorrect application, and most likely the tape just won't work, it's important to note that after all with incorrect application you can worsen your health condition. If you have edema there won't be any lympho-drainage effect. If you don't stretch the tape enough, for example in case of sprained ankle, the joint won't be stabilized and the ankle may hurt even more and swell. In case of blocked neck, when the tape is stretched too much, your neck will continue to hurt. It's important to note that if you apply the tape incorrectly with second application the tape won't stick as firmly as it should.
Time of efficiency of kinesio tape
The producers usually indicate that the tape should last for 4 days. Each product has different density and structure, and thus there is variety of material elasticity and also ranging quality of glue. Low quality tapes won't be as elastic after first day, quality tapes on the other hand will last even 3 weeks at the applied part, which is not located in bending motion or close to occurrence of sweating, like elbow or forearm. It depends then on the conditions and quality of the material. Some tapes get easily frayed around its edges. Before you buy any bigger package of tape, we recommend to first try out the product, to see if the tape will meet your needs and you'll be satisfied with the quality and functioning. Applied tape should definitely stick at least 4 days. In case you'll be sweating during any physical activity (tape on the sole of foot, or on your back), or you'll go swimming, relaxation in sauna or you'll be bathing at home for at least 30 minutes, the tape will quickly peel off. However after normal shower the tape should stay in its place unaffected.
Don't leave the tape sticked to the skin for longer than 7 days, because it may lose the effect. As has been already said, it all depends on quality of the material, from which it is made. But don't worry, if you leave the tape longer on your skin, it won't harm you in any way. Usually the tape is left on the skin for 3 to 5 days, until it starts to fall off by itself.
If you think that you have a tendency to sweat more easily, it better to clean the skin from sweat, dust etc… Optionally you can use rubbing alcohol, or you can just wash the area with soap.
The tape has to be applied on hairless skin, on hairy skin the tape won't hold and during movement you will feel your hair being pulled rather than relief from muscle relaxation.
How long can we use the taping method?
The length of using the taping method as relief from pain is not restricted. Usually the time we leave the tape applied on the skin is determined based on reaction of the patient. If there is no reaction in meaning of itching or allergic reaction we can leave the tape till it starts to fall off by itself (3-4 days). We should realize that tape does not solve the cause of the pain, thus it should be used as healing accessory.
Is kinesio taping also suitable for children?
Different quality of the tape allows application on children as well. Usually it is used for correction of flatfoot, wrong posture of the body or by babies with wrong psychomotor development. However if we use high quality tape with good glue, it becomes problematic to take the tape off. We recommend to first bathe the child so the tape would peel off.
Note: Most of the physiotherapeutic and rehabilitation techniques are performed in underwear. photographs were taken as an illustration, in order to give clients of FYZIOklinika idea.
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic
Source: Certified training of kinesio taping, informations aquired with unversity education