Learn How Kinesiotape Helps Athletes to Recover Faster
By: Tim Alemi
Kinesiotape is a type of elastic taping technique that has increasingly become more popular since the widespread use by Olympic athletes during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Now, it is common to see professional athletes, cross-fit enthusiasts, weekend warriors, and general population patients wearing brightly colored kinesiotape for both function and fashion. The application of kinesiotape technique is designed to help enhance the body’s healing process, improve stability, and decrease stress load on tissues. It is similar to a brace in that it may provide support to the surrounding structures to decrease the load of impact activities, also, the tape does not restrict the range of motion like a brace typically would. According to RockTape which is a different brand of tape, pathologies commonly treated with tape include achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, jumpers knee (PFS), ACL/MCL issues, rotator cuff injuries, groin and hamstring pulls, lower back issues, shin splints, tennis and golf elbow, pain associated with pregnancy, postural corrections, and skin abrasion protection.
Taping can be used for various reasons, and depending on the application it may have several different proposed benefits. According to RockTape, it is able to decrease the sensation of pain by raising the threshold required for nerve fibers to send an impulse to the brain4. Also, it can decompress an area of swelling, bruising, or inflammation by lifting the skin away from underlying tissues resulting in vasodilation. It is widely proposed that tape can normalize tone by activating or inhibiting appropriate corresponding musculature; as well as support tissues by absorbing and properly distributing stress forces. Patients often prefer this method of treatment because of ease of application, comfort, convenience, and longer wear times (2-7 days) with decreased pain and no loss of range of motion2.
Further research needs to be assessed to make an appropriate determination on the effectiveness of kinesiotape versus alternative taping techniques. However, experts suggest that the application of kinesiotape may provide the immediate short-term reduction in pain2. There is limited moderate level evidence that suggests kinesiotape is no more effective than sham tape or other modalities, but it is difficult to make any definitive conclusions due to a limited number of RCTs included in reviews2, 3. This does not mean that kinesiotape is ineffective, but it does suggest that it may not be more effective than other alternatives. However, kinesiotape is beneficial compared to other modalities because it may provide a safe and immediate reduction in pain for short periods of time2.
“ I had shoulder instability that would not allow me to workout. The taping helped support my arm while I did my stability exercises until I was able to gain enough strength from the physical therapy”
— Sandra S.
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