Kinesio taping is the colourful tape you see mostly on active or sporty individuals but it‘s not just for such people. In fact more than ever it is a consideration for everyone when recovering or looking to prevent re-injury.
As an ex instructor in the Ki nesio Tex method (the original methodology) I’m going to give you my opinion on what it does and its benefits. I classed the taping method, also known as K-taping, kinesiology taping or elastic taping as a form of drug free pain relief. It sits up there with ultrasound and acupuncture as a method that requires no ingestion of medication and has the benefit of being able to be applied to the area directly.
When I used to teach, I would explain that the tape is like an extra pair of hands. What would you do with your hands to help the area that is in trouble? I would explain that once I have applied other techniques to an area, I would reinforce all the good I have done with the tape. Why?
Well the great thing about the tape is that it stays on you for a number of days- as you sleep, work and play. The entire time the tape is on you, it is doing its work in terms of healing.
The tape works by being applied directly to the skin and talking to the sensation cells within the skin that let you know when something is touching you, how much pressure is being applied, if it‘s hot or cold, if it is a massage stationary or oscillating pressure, does the pressure have a direction etc. Basically,the sensation cells and others like them allow us to adapt to our environment and navigate daily through our environment in a coordinated way. They collate sensory information from around us and report to the brain. The brain in return provides a motor output as a response. This may be to control muscles, recognition of pain or adaptions to movement as a result of the tape being applied. SENSORY INPUT = MOTOR OUTPUT.
As a benefit the tape can be worn 24 hours a day and depending on the tension applied- remember this is a stretchy tape and so can be stretched a little or a lot- it could last between 2 and 7 days. Its waterproof and latex free. What is really great about it is it can applied directly to the area of discomfort providing the tissue in question is intact (no cuts or lacerations) and with some training our patients can learn how to apply the tape themselves leading to a greater sense of independence. The same tape can be stretched a little or a lot. A light stretch applied to the tape and to the skin results in a recoil once the tape has been applied. The result is the tissues under the skin are gathered together- creating an off load over the point of pain. A great option when dealing with inflammation.
At the other end of the scale a strong stretch that takes the tape almost to its limits in terms length results in lots of the elasticity being lost as elastic bands are broken. This results in a tape that is now more compressive and supportive- think taping knees and other joints- and by being compressive reduces the potential for joints to move into painful ranges. It won‘t stop it from happening but the tension is picked up by the brain before it reaches a painful range- it’s a prompt to stop. In all examples the tape is continually reporting to the brain and the brain responds especially as movement occurs and as humans, we all move.
As a method it is being employed more regularly these days throughout the NHS and certainly in private practice. At The Flying Physios we tend to use it regularly to reinforce what we do in clinic and between appointments. After all we believe in drug free pain relief and Kinesio Tex tape offers just that.