I’m sure many of you have notice random people or important athletes like Novak Djokovic, Kerri Walsh, or Mario Balotelli suddenly using multicolored taping applications on different body parts. It’s particularly noticeable on those more scantily clad, such as beach volleyball, tennis or track and field athletes.
This stuff is called Kinesio Tape. But what is it? Does it work? Are these elaborate weaves of color a genuine leap forward in the treatment of sports injuries? Before answering these questions, let’s study the basics of Kinesio Tape by reviewing a bit of history in order to understand the origin and functions of this unique method.
It all started in Japan, when Dr. Kenzo Kase first developed the Kinesiology Taping Method in 1979 basing the study on his knowledge in chiropractic, acupuncture and moxibustion.
Dr. Kase realized that manual therapy (massage therapy, chiropractic care, and physical therapy) was extremely effective in the treatment of different tissue conditions, but the effects were often temporary. He needed something to use between appointments and sessions in order to increase the effectiveness of manual therapy for long-lasting results.
Taking the human skin as model, and based on the importance of maintaining normal movement, he developed an elastic bandage that improves the muscle function without limiting the movements, maintaining an adequate blood and lymphatic circulation and the arrival of proprioceptive information from the injured structure, factors that stimulate the healing process. The Kinesiology Taping Method was introduced to the United States in 1995, and then a Europe in 1996 and became massive after rolls of tape were donated to 58 countries at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
At first, it was chiefly used in the sports medicine field. However, these days it is widely used in other clinical specialties, especially in orthopedics, traumatology, surgery of the motor system, neurology, oncology and pediatrics.
That said, Kinesio Tape can be defined as a thin, stretchy, elastic cotton-based with an acrylic adhesive strip and it can benefit a wide variety of musculoskeletal and sports injuries, plus inflammatory conditions. It is almost identical to human skin in both thickness and elasticity, which allows to be worn without binding, constricting or restriction of movement. These adhesive tapes are made of cotton and can be stretched up to 140% of their original length. They are of variable width and length and neither inhibit joint mobility nor irritate the skin. Thanks to water-proof abilities they may be used for repetitive days and do not disturb the hydrotherapeutic treatment. Taping techniques are frequently used for support of athletic injuries and musculoskeletal imbalances. These taping methods are used to support joints; however, Kinesio taping can offer much more than support.
Kinesio also uses a proprietary taping method complete with certification classes and seminars for practitioners. The tape is applied in a specific pattern, and either stretched or not stretched, depending on the injury.
How does it works? Due to the injury within the region of the motor system, swelling occurs and inhibits (or slows down) the flow of blood and lymph, causing concentration of organic liquids in the subcutaneous layer. The application of Kinesio Tape to the skin in the area of an injury raises and folds the layers of the epidermis including the papillary layer of the dermis. This leads to an increased blood flow capacity in the region of the sub papillary network of vessels and skin-deep vessels and to the enhancement of lymph transportation from the lymph capillaries of the papillae to the sub papillary network of blood vessels. Thanks to this process, more advantageous conditions for regeneration of injured tissues are created. As a result, the normalization of fasciae tension occurs, blood and lymph flow is activated, pain decreases and functions are rectified.
When Kinesio taping is properly applied, it can be used for virtually anything; from chronic pain, to athletic injuries, to menstrual cramps with amazing instant pain-free results or performance improving results. There are very positive clinical trials and scientific studies on kinesio taping being carried out, insofar it has help us to know what lines of work should continue and which ones need improvement as well as more studies. That said, you won’t believe how effective kinesiology taping is until you try it!
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