What is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology tape is a type of sports therapeutic and rehabilitation tape, and its uses span from treating muscle and joint related injuries, to basic improvement on mobility and support. It was developed by Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist Kenzo Kase. His patients reported that they felt a lot of relief from his treatment in his office, but as time passes when they returned home, the relief diminished. Kenzo wanted a way to prolong the feeling of relief; he wanted to be able to hold his patient’s joints and muscles even when they left his office. He then worked with product engineers and as a result, developed Kinesiology tape.
Through the recent years, the use of Kinesiology Tape or K-Tape has become more widespread, especially as Olympic athletes are now frequently seen taped up as they compete. Today, all sorts of practitioners are implementing the use of K-Tape as treatment for their patients.
How Does Kinesiology Tape Work?
The functional theory of the tape is to provide support for muscles and joints while assisting the body’s natural healing process, as well as reducing pain. When applied, the tape is believed to lift fascia and soft tissue to produce additional space below the area of application, which then allows for a better flow of nutrients and oxygen, as well as better mobility for joints. This extra space also reduces and drains extra fluid/edema (swelling) which is common in sprains and related injuries. Because of the complex material and flexibility of the tape, all this is done without limiting range of motion. The application and contact of the tape to the skin is believed to stimulate underlying sensory receptors (pain receptors) through the surface contact or stretching of the skin. This then alters sensory input to the CNS (Central Nervous System) to inhibit pain as well as influencing perception and execution of movements. While not substantial, the tape can also be used to provide some mechanical leverage to guide or control movement.
What is the Research Behind Kinesiology Taping?
The research continues to grow for Kinesiology taping. Research suggests that taping is not a substitute but something that should be used together along with other treatments. Studies heavily support that taping may be an effective asset particularly towards joint support and injury rehabilitation. This was especially seen when the usage of tape was accompanied with exercise therapy as well as chiropractic or other physical therapies.
One study comparing the effects of K-taping, sham taping, and no taping treatment on patients with patellofemoral pain (knee pain) found that both K-taping and sham taping showed positive results in lowering levels of pain. These results support the theory of managing pain via sensory receptors -- as long as something is creating physical contact on the skin to stimulate the receptors, pain can be inhibited. However, K-taping is preferred as the tape is carefully engineered with high level elasticity and hypoallergenic elements to prevent various irritations to the skin.
K-taping also showed promising results on pain studies on arthritis in not only reducing pain but providing support and mobility as well. Positive results were even found on further studies exploring menstrual pain reception sensitizing with the usage of K-tape, further supporting the sensory receptor theory.
Various studies presented positive effects of taping on injured patients as well as rehabilitating patients suffering from joint-related injuries. First, the application of K-tape on post surgery/operation and injured patients showed a reduction in edema and inflammation (swelling), thus assisting the body’s natural healing processes. It was also found that many rehabilitating patients acquired beneficial psychological effects from the application of K-tape. Proper tension of the taping allows optimum traction to touch receptors which stimulates more skin-deep motor neurons. The stability and heightened receptor responses from the tape’s tension allowed patients to overcome a fear of re-injury, thus promoting movement and rehabilitation.
However, studies also suggest that taping may have limitations. One study testing the usage of tape on healthy individuals showed that the tape does not produce any beneficial effects in both strength and mobility. This research implies that tape acts as support and correction for injured joints, not acting to enhance physical ability under normal or un-injured circumstances. Furthermore, a study tested taping on individuals with non-specific back pain, and little to no positive results were found. This may suggest that taping works best on joint related injuries as the usage of tape in areas like the knee, wrist, and ankles generally have more results. Though studies may show some people experiencing positive effects of taping, there were many that did not, or the same effects were also found with sham taping as well.
How Do We Use Kinesiology Taping at Integrity Chiropractic?
As the research suggests, the tape can be helpful as part of a patient's overall treatment strategy. At Integrity Chiropractic, we use it as adjunct to our soft tissue treatments to help increase comfort and speed recovery. We also use it to help cue positioning and movement to enhance exercise and awareness outside the office. However, as a long term goal, we strive to help patients not make it a crutch to their activity or performance. We use RockTape brand Kinesiology tape at Integrity Chiropractic due to it's excellent adhesive capabilities that can hold up well in endurance events and day to day activities.
See Videos on How to Tape Yourself
Below are some very common taping applications used to manage pain in various parts of the body. If you're seeking Kirkland chiropractic care near you that provides kinesiology taping, Dr. Wen is a certified RockTape provider. We also sell rolls of tape that can be purchased in office as well. (Swipe on mobile to view more videos.)
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