What is the colorful tape people wear all over their bodies? While there are many brands out there to pick from, the tape itself is known as Kinesio Tape, which is a cotton fiber tape that stretches in length allowing it to contour and move with the body while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting range of motion. The tape on the paper backing has a pretension of about 15-20%. It can be worn 3-5 days at a time and can get wet without coming off. Kinesio tape is different from athletic white tape, which is used to limit ranges of motion and restrict muscle movement. Athletic tape is used to protect the injured areas so you can perform your sport and is removed after your event is finished.
How does it all work? Current theories suggest the tape pulls on the upper layers of the skin thus creating more space between the skin and the muscle. Traveling through this space are the lymph vessels, nerve receptors and blood vessels. Creating adequate space takes “pressure” off of these structures and allows for improved circulation of lymph fluid and blood and improved nervous system communication between the brain and the body. When this space is compromised as a result of an injury, the lymphatic system and the nerve receptors are negatively impacted. The lymphatic system plays a critical role in regulating inflammation/swelling. The nerve receptors are responsible for providing brain information on touch, light touch, cold, heat, pressure, pain and proprioceptive input (brain’s ability to know where the body is in space without relying on the eyes). This information causes the brain to send out certain signals to the body on how to react to particular stimuli from the environment. Kinesio tape alters the information these receptors send to the brain and causes a less reactive response in the body. This allows the body to function in a more normal manner and creates an environment for healing to occur.
Kinesio tap can be applied in numerous ways and has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, normalize muscle tone, provide feedback to the brain, upgrade sensory perception, foster proper movement, reduce pain, and inflammation, optimize performance, promote good circulation and healing, and help the body to get back to normal. We can tape to help decrease swelling and bruising. This is one of my favorites as the results are pretty immediate and it looks the coolest, like a spider web. Tape can also be applied to help stabilize an area in a range of motion that is restricted and/or painful. We tape you in the position of discomfort and apply what is known as “stabilizing” strips. This provides feedback to the body and brain in a manner that improves range of motion and reduces pain. Another way to tape is for reduction of pain. These are called decompression strips and are the only strips of tape applied with an increase in tension in the tape (50% tension). This method works great for more localized areas of pain and provides feedback to the brain, which decreases the pain. We are also able to do what is known as posture taping. This is fantastic since we all need help in improving our posture. For this process, we apply the tape while the patient is maintaining proper posture. When they come out of that proper posture, the tape provides feedback to remind the body where it’s suppose to be.
Kinesio tape will provide significant improvements in function of the body, however, it is not a cure all. Kinesio tape allows for healing to occur, but you still need to do the re-training/rehabilitation of the area that has been impacted to improve function. Kinesio tape helps facilitate the process and gets you back in the game sooner.
Our favorite brand of Kinesio tape is Rock Tape. Rock tape sticks better, lasts longer, stretches more, has more bounce back and is more fun with multiple colors to choose from. We offer taping services in the office and have Rock Tape on hand for your convenience.