What is Kinesiology Taping?
Kinesiology tape was developed in the late 1970s by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor who wanted a tape that provided support but didn’t limit movement the way traditional athletic tapes do. If you watch pretty much any sports now whether it's tennis or football, you’ve probably already seen it and there are now 50+ brands on the market.
It is a stretchy tape that is applied to the skin. It can be worn for up to 7 days and can stay on if you shower/swim.
What are the benefits?
Kinesiology tape can be used in a variety of ways to achieve different benefits: When the tape is applied to your body, it recoils slightly, gently lifting your skin. It is believed that this helps to create a microscopic space between your skin and the tissues underneath it. This can help as a more normal slide and glide mechanics between the layers of tissue is restored and allows the by-products created by inflammation to be removed more quickly.
Kinesiology tape is also used to reduce pain. Firstly by decompressing the skin, this reduces pressure on the nerve endings causing the pain. Another theory is that by having the tape on the skin, it can interfere with painful signals which are directed to the brain.
When the signals arriving to the brain are altered, it does not produce the sensation of pain.
When kinesiology tape is applied with more stretch it can be used to support areas where tissue has been strained, torn, weakened or lengthened and therefore treat a range of sports injuries.
What I find particularly interesting is how it can be used for those with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis. For example for someone who has issues with increased tone (over active muscle), kinesiology tape can be used to try and 'relax' that muscle. Furthermore for someone with a weak muscle, it can be used to try and stimulate the muscle.
What does the evidence say?
As with many treatment modalities, the current research remains inconsistent and therefore requiring more research. Some studies indicate no difference in outcomes between kinesiology tape and placebos. Some studies show minimal or moderate gains.
Many studies indicate that kinesiology taping is most effective when used together with conventional treatment methods.
How is it used at Kalm?
I completed a kinesiology taping course specifically for neurological conditions a few years ago, run by a company who also produce k-tape called Rocktape (this makes me a certified 'Rock Doc', not a bad title!). I have used it now for several years now for various conditions from sports injuries to clients with spinal cord injury.
My personal opinion/experience has been that some clients have not really found much benefit but others have had excellent results. For example, whilst working at the Spinal Unit in Salisbury I was asked to tape the shoulder of a patient who had been experiencing shoulder pain for weeks. 15 minutes after I taped him he informed me it was the first time he felt almost pain free. Another patient had severe clonus in her ankles (involuntary contraction and relaxation of the calf muscle) and after having the tape applied this stopped. I also think the tape must have some effect on the skin as this is evident when you see it used for bruising:
Overall I feel that although the evidence is variable, I have seen how it can help some clients and therefore is worth exploring. Bear in mind there are some conditions in which taping should be avoided (such as open wounds, active cancer, fragile skin). Also if you decide to purchase some yourself it is worth buying a high quality brand such as Rocktape. If you would like to know more please feel free to get in touch.