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Kinesiology Tape: taking athletes to the next level in sports injury rehabilitation

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Since the Beijing Olympics, athletic taping is the new craze for athletes globally.  Athletes using therapeutic kinesiology tape are from all sports including the NBA, NFL, AVP tour, PGA, MLB, and even Ironman and the Tour de France.  Kinesiology taping benefits provide results for better performance and increasing range of motions while decreasing pain and length of sports injuries. 

Kinesiology taping has been used for over 30 years, but recently is being utilized by high performance athletes to weekend warriors ranging from complex injuries to common muscle and joint pains.  When applied correctly the tape works by facilitating neuromuscular re-education, inhibiting hypertonic muscles, reducing pain, reducing inflammation & bruising, preventing injury, and promotes good circulation and tissue healing.  In addition to general muscle pain and back pain, the tape is therapeutic for neck pain, shoulder and rotator cuff problems, lateral epicondylitis, carpal tunnel, ilio-tibial (IT) band problems, patellar tracking issues, knee pain, compartment syndromes or shin splints, patellar and achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and many others.  Kinesiology taping allows the patient to participate in active treatment during the rehabilitative process.

How it works:  The tape is applied to the skin in various manners when trying to achieve certain desired effects.  General applications usually follow the fibers of the muscle and can be applied either from origin to insertion or vice versa.  Whether you are trying to help a weak muscle or inhibit a tight muscle, a certain amount of stretch is placed on the tape during application.  Mechanical or corrective pieces of tape can be applied to inhibit the action of ligaments or multiple small pieces can be applied to help decrease bruising and swelling.  The direction of the tape and stretch applied work to: provide a stimulus activating mechanoreceptors in the skin to help decrease the perception of pain, re-align fascial tissues, and lift the skin to help promote circulation and lymphatic drainage.  The tape is applied carefully to the skin and is heat activated.  Correct application of the tape is important otherwise its goal will not be reached and can potentially make the problem worse.  Before applying it’s best to consult your doctor to see how taping can benefit you and what the proper application would be to ensure maximum effect. 


Which tape to use:  Currently three main forms of kinesiology taping are on the market.  Kinesio Tex, KT tape, and Spider Tech are the three main types which all work great and have their benefits.   


Available in single rolls or bulk

Kinesio Tex Tape, developed by Doctor of Chiropractic Kenzo Kase, set the standard over 35 years ago.  Available in various colors (beige, blue, red, and black) and sizes, the tape is made of cotton fiber strips and is latex free.  The tape is waterproof and general applications last from 3 to 5 days on average.  The roll of tape is one long strip that can be cut to desired lengths.  This allows for short or long applications to be applied and can utilize “I,” “X,” “Y,” or other modified cut strips.   The Kinesio Taping Association has 3 levels of certification for CKTP title ensuring practitioners are fully educated on taping benefits, biomechanics, and proper application for the tape. 


Single 10inch strips for easy use

KT Tape, short for kinesiology therapeutic tape, is fairly new on the market and has received national attention by athletes of all kinds.  You may see Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh or the US Water Polo team sporting this tape during matches.  Recently joining the KT Tape advisory board is 2008 Beijing U.S. Olympic Team Chiropractor Dr. Ted Forcum DC, DACBSP, FICC, CSCS.  Each roll has 10-20 applications and are pre-cut strips measuring 10 inches long.  Each strip has rounded edges to prevent lifting of the tape and are pre-cut lengthwise along the middle for easy application of a “Y” shape.  Waterproof and supplied in various colors (black, blue, pink, and beige), each roll comes with instructions how to apply the tape for various conditions as well as online videos.  


Sixteen precut designs available 

SpiderTech, developed by Dr. Kevin Jardine D.C., CSCS, ART, Med.Ac, provides a new approach to kinesiology taping with 16 pre-cut, pre-engineered therapeutic supports.  SpiderTech uses the same kinesiology taping principles in shapes that are made specifically for the neck, shoulder, knee, etc.  These “ready to apply” pieces come with complete instructions and regular rolls are also available for the complete taping experience.  The tape is latex free, waterproof, and available in four colors: beige, red, blue, and black, as well as instructional videos online.  SpiderTech is now offering certification for licensed professionals to ensure patients receive proper treatment and expert application with a complete understanding how kinesiology taping works. 

What’s next?:  Whether you are a professional, amateur, or weekend athlete, or simply have muscle or joint aches and pains, you may be a candidate for kinesiology taping.  Before you go out and buy a roll, the next step is to contact your chiropractor or licensed professional to see how you can benefit.  He or she will then examine and evaluate whether your treatment plan can take the next level utilizing these taping methods.  I must emphasize the importance of first contacting a licensed professional to discuss kinesiology taping and your treatment plan.  While it is safe to use, never use the tape over an open wound, infection, or if it hurts the skin in any way, as your licensed professional will know if there are any contra-indications to use.  He or she can then apply the tape or direct you where to buy and how to use the tape. 

Some say it’s the latest fashion accessory in the sports world but the truth is the benefits of kinesiology taping have proven to be great.  With the increased demands on our bodies we can’t afford to not invest in ourselves.  So get up, get out, and talk with someone today so you can look, feel, and perform your best.      

      

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