Taping has been used for a long time for the prevention or treatment of sporting injuries, you have probably been watching some form of sporting activity such as athletics, volleyball or cycling and wondered why we now see athletes bodies covered in stripes of colourful tape. This tape is specifically called kinesiology tape (which is really stretchy) or more commonly Kinesio tape. KT is not only used for sports injuries but for a variety of other injuries. According to the manufacturer's recommendations when KT Tape is applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused or tired muscles, and support muscles in movement on a 24-hour-a-day basis. The process requires the application of tape directly to the skin to hold muscles or bones at a certain position. This reduces pain and aids recovery, especially when applied by your orthopaedic therapist following overuse to relieve discomfort.
Taping and Strapping
Kinesio-taping (KT) method taping techniques are commonly used by physiotherapists in the treatment of pain relief and prevention of sports injuries. This technique can be often used for patients who are suffering from runners knee, problems with your patella causing knee pain such as weakness with a ligament. The benefits of KT tape application is the breadth of conditions it covers with its relatively simple effects of balancing the muscles effect on the knee and relieving pressure on the kneecap and its tendon. When applying the tape you won't usually want to apply the tape to its full stretching capability, however, most instructions require a degree of stretch. (You could see percentages, such as 50% for stretching to half of the tape’s full stretch, 25% for between none and half, and 75% between half and full stretch) it is strong, breathable and latex-free.
Kinesiology tape (KNT) through the Kinesio taping method has historically had an association to Dr Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor who wanted a tape that provided support but didn’t limit the range of motion the way traditional athletic tapes do. KT support tape can be applied in a number of different ways in physical therapy to assist with relieving pain and depending on the required action. Examples are to release tension in overworked muscles, encourage activation in weaker muscles, support structures in protected positions where excessive movement can delay healing, managed to swell and give proprioceptive feedback to improve posture or movement control in the area.
How does taping prevent injury?
The general consensus is that taping as a sports medicine does help prevent reoccurrence of an injury. There are two most likely explanations for this. First, the tape gives the joint mechanical support, it allows the joints and muscles to be stabilised during activity. This means that the tape prevents the joint from moving too far in any one direction and hyperextending the joint beyond the normal range of motion. The tape’s medical-grade adhesive is also water-resistant and strong enough to stay on for three to five days, allowing you to continue to work out or take showers. The use of tape to treat a range of Musculoskeletal anatomy problems, it is best described as a therapeutic tape that’s applied strategically to the body to provide support, lessen pain, reduce swelling, and improve muscles performance when applied by your practitioner.
Tape for Causes Of Knee Pain
Knee issues arise from equally as many causes. Muscle imbalances, poor running form, misaligned hips or poor posture, poor nutrition, over-training, compensation for another injury, hyperextension, arthritis, and blunt trauma to ligaments are just a few of the most common causes of knee pain. Common effective treatments among all of these conditions include increasing circulation, providing support, reducing pressure, and maintaining range of motion. It is believed that the use of tape creates small spaces in joints which helps prevent joint irritation.
How does Kinesiology support tape work?
When sports tape is applied by your physical therapist to an inflamed or swollen area of the body, Achilles, elbow, wrist, quadriceps, knees, thigh, low back, ankle, rotator cuff e.g you may have suffered a sprain to your ankle and be using the tape for stability, the lifting motion of the tape lifts the skin and creates a space between the top layer of skin and the underlying tissues. KNT is purported to increase circulation by reducing local pressure and improving blood flow. 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 by lymphatic drainage, reducing the inflammatory nature of the injury and improving the rehab of the patient and assisting the healing process.
KT Tape can be used to help improve muscular firing and contraction patterns, normalising muscular tone and improved athletic performance.
Inhibition and pain management
helping reduce pain and muscle spasm that may occur after an injury such as shoulder pain caused by instability in Rotator Cuff.
Support and stability
Abbey Physiotherapy uses tape to treat conditions such as patellofemoral stress syndrome, iliotibial band friction syndrome, and shoulder instability They all benefit from the extra support provided by using sports taping practices. The tape can support your joint while still allowing for some motion to occur.
If you have suffered an injury or have had surgery that results in increased swelling, kinesiology tape may help to decrease the swelling by decreasing pressure between the skin and underlying tissues.
Scar tissue management
Kinesiotaping for post-surgical scar is a treatment method proven to be effective for management of scar tissue.
- Used to facilitate motion and inhibit pain ✔
- Flexible ✔
- Can improve circulation ✔
- Used for support and to limit motion ✖
- Inflexible ✖
- Decreases circulation ✖
Kinesio Tape is a rehabilitative tape that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing both support and stability to muscles and joints. It is characterised by the ability to stretch to 120-140% of its original length and, following application it will recoil back towards its unstretched length. The tape is proposed to mimic the physical qualities of the skin as it is believed to be the same weight and thickness of the epidermis along with its inherent elastic properties. It is comprised of polymer elastic wrapped in 100% cotton fibres, which allows for evaporation of moisture. The glue is heat-activated and is applied in a wave-like pattern to mimic the qualities of the fingerprint on the fingertip
We don't recommend applying kinesiology tape to damaged or broken skin, if your skin is particularly sensitive, we recommend that we may recommend to try testing out a small section for a period of around 24 hours to check that you don’t suffer any ill-effects before applying a full taping job.
Prevent Injuries with Kinesio Tape
Kinesio tape can be used to prevent injuries. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopaedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions, designed to facilitate the body's natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body's range of motion. In consequence, different types of sports taping can be used ranging from rigid to full flexible which includes the use of Kineseotape ('K') Dynamic tape, Zinc Oxide and Elastic Adhesive Bandage. If you are preparing for a big sporting event and want to ensure that do the most the protect yourself get in touch with your local physiotherapist at Abbey Physiotherapy.
A variety of other supports are available which may be suggested by your Physiotherapist to support your recovery process. We aim for both taping and supports to be short term use while you rehabilitate your body to take over the role of the tape or support and if you successfully follow the rehabilitation programme, this should guard against future injury.
Conditions which benefit from KT Taping
These are the conditions which Abbey Physiotherapy could utilise the use of KT Taping as a form of treatment, maybe in conjunction with other Physiotherapy Treatments.
- Back injuries
- Hamstring injuries
- Calf injuries
- Ankle sprain or other injuries (The most commonly injured ligament is the anterior talofibular. Injury to this ligament results in swelling and pain on the outside of the ankle).
- Patellar Tendonitis (jumpers knee)
- Patellofemoral Pain (runner's knee)
- Medial Tendonitis (golfers elbow)
- Scar Tissue Management
- Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome
- Shoulder instability in Rotator Cuff (The rotator cuff muscles are and their tendons act to stabilize the shoulder.)
- Knee bursitis
- Plantar Fasciitis (Plantar Fasciitis literally means inflammation of the plantar fascia)
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
There is a lot of research available investigating the efficacy of kinesiology tape in the musculoskeletal field, although research in the neurological arena is much less prevalent, However, it has been used for Improved postural alignment, pelvic tilting, and gait in patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD), Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury, pain and musculoskeletal problems. If you have an injury that results in pain, swelling, loss of motion, or muscle spasm your Abbey physical therapist may recommend using kinesiology tape to help treat your problem