We’re sure sure you have seen many athletes with strips of colour on their body and wondered what they were. This article should help to provide some answers and give you clarity on how physiotherapists approach its usage.
What is this taping method all about?
Kinesio taping is a waterproof and hypo-allergenic bandaging method that helps your body to activate its own self-healing process without altering mobility but still improving circulation.
The Kinesio tape does not carry any kind of incorporated medication, as its effect is physical. It is applied in a muscular or lymphatic pattern intended to correct the bio-mechanics of the body.
How does it work?
Kinesio tape is elastic, unlike classic bandages, and is intended to reduce pain, swelling and tension. When a muscle is inflamed, swollen or shortened owing to fatigue, the space between the skin and the muscle is compressed, causing a restriction of blood flow and lymphatic circulation. This type of tape or band gives information to your body which is interpreted and acted upon depending on your needs.
What injuries are suitable for taping?
Kinesio Taping helps to treat muscle, joint and ligament injuries. In addition to reducing pain and inflammation, it improves blood circulation. It’s ideal for any acute, semi-acute or sometimes chronic injury. One of the first questions I’m always asked is; “Is taping just for athletes?” and the answer, put simply, is “no”. We have used Kinesio taping for whiplash, following car accidents, as well as to treat tension headaches, which are often triggered by bad posture when sitting at a computer (we’re all guilty of it). When applied, Kinesio tape can help to improve your posture and reduce the tension in your neck muscles which can assist in relieving the headache.
What are the results?
When applied correctly, Kinesio taping can inhibit, facilitate or increase circulation to the targeted area based on specific need and taping technique. It is generally used in addition to stretching, strengthening exercises and other modalities. It has been shown that rehabilitation following an injury can be assisted by lifting bruising, reducing swelling and pain and eliminating secondary injury pain, so that you can carry on with every day activities.
What are the different colours for?
The tapes have the same thickness as the first layer of skin and allow optimal movement in the affected areas. The different colours act as a mirror to the skin in order to have a specific desired effect (this is what is known as Chromatherapy). There is no difference in application or effect of tape with the colours. There has, however, been research to indicate that colours work as part of colour therapy and the “cooler” colours may help lower hypersensitive areas as the brain associates them with calmer situations.
How long do Kinesio tapes stay on for?
They can remain for several days on the skin, working 24 hours a day, producing a therapeutic effect that controls each of our movements, but still allowing for the full range of motion we expect with regular activities.
Who benefits from this kind of taping?
Typical patients include, but are not limited to, people with:
- trigger points in the neckand upper back area
- shouldersthat need improved postural and joint positioning
- kneesfor patellar pain
- anklesto correct over-pronation or supination
- areas of increased swellingfrom an injury to improve lymphatic drainage
- surgeryincisions to decrease keloiding and improve scar mobilisation
Can I apply Kinesio tape myself?
After this explanation, you are probably already thinking of testing this treatment out yourself. However, for the effect to be truly beneficial, each person needs to be assessed for the specific injury or problem, and if appropriate, your physiotherapist will decide if taping is an appropriate technique to be used. Your physio can teach you how to tape yourself and advise you on the specific care and management.