Physical Therapists use Various Taping Applications to Help in Relieve Pain and Aide in Recovery
Athletic taping to support an ankle sprain. McConnell taping for patellofemoral pain. Kinesiology taping for swelling reduction or to facilitate inhibited muscles.
These are just a few of the common taping techniques and applications we use at Rose City Physical Therapy. Each has a purpose and purported function. Candidly, the benefits of taping have low levels of support based on research. Anecdotally, however, patients and athletes report benefits including taping to help alleviate pain, improve posture, increase strength and range of motion, facilitate muscle activity, promote better joint positioning.
Anyone watching Keri Walsh-Jennings, three-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time Olympic silver medalist for Team USA Volleyball, in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing saw black tape on her shoulder. Athletes, trainers, and physical therapists became inquisitive and wanted to know what this tape was that she was weaning and what it was doing. Since, the popularity and use of ‘kinesio tape’ or ‘kinesiology taping’ has exploded.
But, the question remains, what are its true uses and how can it help people?
What types of taping can help me?
Three general categories of tape are available: Supportive, Corrective and Compressive. The purpose of each is unique.
Supportive Tape: Athletic Taping and McConnell Taping
The most common supportive taping is athletic taping. Athletic taping has been around the longest. You see if on football Sunday wrapped around a football player’s ankle, or at their wrist. Or on the fingers of basketball players, taped together, to protect a jammed finger. Athletic tape is strong and has little elasticity – or stretch – to it, and offers support to joints where injured tissue, typically ligaments, are damaged and not providing the normal level of support at the joints they act on. This taping can also provide compression to reduce existing swelling and edema at an injured joint.
Another form of supportive tape is McConnell taping – better known as LeukotapeⓇ. LeukotapeⓇ is used along with Cover-roll tape. LeukotapeⓇ is a strong non forgiving tape with a strong zinc-oxide adhesive that can irritate the skin. Because of this, it is applied over a protective barrier – Cover-roll – to allow the tape to be applied for up to a few days at a time and aid in supporting the joint(s) it’s applied to.
Corrective Tape: Kinesiology Taping
Kinesiology tape, of which there are many brands that have penetrated the market, is a flexible tape with pressure grooves cut into the tape, and elastic properties that allows control of the amount of stretch applied.
It was originally developed in Japan in 1973 and officially introduced to the United States in 1995. And made very popular by Keri Walsh Jennings in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Depending on its application, it can be used to decrease pain, affect lymph function (through the pressure grooves) which helps in reducing swelling and edema, and to decrease pain. When properly applied, the tape can help reeducate muscle function thereby reducing strain and pain. Applying the tape correctly depends on the amount of tension applied, the start and end point of the tape, and whether or not it is applied as one strip or multiple strips.
One of the most common uses of kinesiology taping at Rose City Physical Therapy is for helping correct posture or cue proper body mechanics. The tape affords a little tension, and when applied across the shoulders and upper back in a patient that needs improved posture or body mechanics, the tape tension increases as poor posture or body mechanics are assumed. This tension acts as a check rein to reinforce proper posture and cues the patient to sit or stand up straight, or use correct body mechanics. Over time and repetition, retraining of proper posture and body mechanics occurs and this in turn relieves pain and allows recovery from injury.
The benefits of kinesio tape are quite broad, and mostly anecdotal as aforementioned. Once a specific application is shown to be effective, the patient can be instructed to do it on their own. This tape can also be worn for 3 to 4 days, including during sport and swimming, as long as there is no skin sensitivity or irritation.
Compressive Tape: Coban Taping
Taping for compressive purposes is most often accomplished using a soft flexible and elastic tape; the most common being Coban. Coban is an elastic cotton and spandex blend that offers elasticity with minimal support. When applied, it conforms better than the other types of tape and offers a uniform compression without causing constriction; hence, it is a great option for taping sprained joints that are swelling, or joints after surgery that are swollen and with edema in the joint.