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Kinesio and Sports Taping

Roll the Tape

For many years Dr. Morgan has personally utilized as well as taught Chiropractic Continuing Education courses in the use of the various types and methods of taping and the use of tape as an adjunct to traditional chiropractic treatment. Although taping is especially useful when we’re talking about Sports Chiropractic, it is certainly not limited to just the treatment of athletes or athletic injuries. In fact, I’ve found the use of tape to be a very valuable addition to the clinical arsenal for our “regular” patients as well. 

One of the key treatment methods we would like to discuss is a specialized taping method called Kinesio Taping. Kinesio tape and Kinesio taping methods are very useful for a wide variety of injuries and conditions. I thought it might be informative to cover some basics of the theory and utilization of this very unique therapeutic tape. 

First, a little information about the various types of tape and methods of taping. 

Traditional Athletic Taping is the most commonly used taping technique in the U.S. For the most part, the regular athletic tape from Mueller, Johnson & Johnson or Cramer is extremely rigid. You use an adhesive spray, such as “tough skin” and a light, very stretchy foam-type tape called “pre-wrap as a base for the tape job. This is the kind of tape job you might be familiar with, commonly used for sprained ankles. Many team athletic trainers tape some football players preventitvely for extra support. Johnson and Johnson ELASTICON tape is another very useful tape. It’s a quite heavy, but somewhat stretchy and flexible tape, which is also applied with the adhesive spray and pre-wrap. I still use traditional tape in certain situations. For example, my professional background includes over 150 events where I’ve served as the Event Chiropractor; mostly these have been at Professional American Motorcycle Association national championship events. I’ve had a racer tweak his knee on the first day of a double-header national flat-track weekend. We’ll get his knee iced down using a special cooling device called a “cryo-cuff” and a heavy Elasticon knee taping. This gives the rider heavy support and the best chance to be able to compete the following day. The Elasticon stabilizes lateral movement of the knee, but allows a certain amount of flexion. Typically, traditional taping is done immediately prior to an event and removed right after. Other than the support, there are no real rehabilitative uses or benefits.

Kinesio Taping is a therapeutic taping technique which not only offers patients and athletes the support they are looking for, but helps to rehabilitate the affected condition as well. Using a highly specific tape design that works with the body, allowing full range of movement – in many cases range of movement will be significantly improved – the Kinesio Taping Method does not negatively affect the patient’s bio-mechanics. Kinesio Tape is latex-free and safe for sensitive skin and may be used with populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric. There is no compression on the skin, making it “light feeling” and allowing comfortable wear over a 3 to 7 day period. The water-resistant fabric wicks away moisture and allows the patient to bathe or even swim as usual. Lymph and blood circulation are facilitated in order to rehabilitate and relieve pain. It is used for virtually any orthopedic clinical condition.

About Kinesio Tape

Kinesio tape was developed in the 1970s by an American educated Japanese Chiropractor, Dr. Kenso Kase. It is a very flexible, stretchy tape, with a paper backing protecting the adhesive. The back or adhesive side of the tape has a “wave pattern.” Dr. Kase was experienced with both Japanese and US norms for patient treatment. He began to have questions about the limitations of the Western medical mindset. Traditional athletic taping is quite rigid and more or less immobilizes the involved joint. Kinesio tape, on the other hand, has a texture and elasticity very close to living human tissues, muscle and skin. The Kinesio Taping Method is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions. While I still use traditional athletic tape and taping methods when appropriate, I use the kinesio tape probably 10 times more frequently than I use traditional taping. I use Kinesio tape virtually every day in my chiropractic practice.

The research and development of kinesio tape focused on its breathability, flexibility and adhesive. It’s also waterproof and can withstand showering. A proper kinesio taping application usually lasts at least three days and can still be in place and effective for up to a week. Because of the unique nature of kinesio tape with its flexibility and wave pattern, it also microscopically lifts the skin and fascia enhancing circulation and lymphatic drainage which can help the natural healing process. 

Kinesio Tape is used to:

  • Re-educate the neuromuscular system
  • Reduce pain
  • Enhance performance
  • Prevent injury
  • Promote improved circulation and healing

While I have been using Kinesio tape for many years, most people were first exposed to the tape during the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing, China on the shoulder of gold medal winning beach volleyball athlete Kerri Walsh. Ms. Walsh was recovering from shoulder surgery and the tape was essential to functionally stabilizing her shoulder. While Kinesio tape can be effectively used on a wide variety of body areas and conditions, it is especially effective for the shoulder. I first used Kinesio tape on my own shoulder after suffering a severe shoulder separation after crashing my dirt bike on some rough trails. Because of the great range of motion of the shoulder, traditional taping methods just don’t work. Kinesio tape provides support, and facilitates healing, while allowing full range of motion. After getting taped, I noticed an immediate improvement in my pain and range of motion. 

Besides the shoulder, the areas of the body I treat most frequently with Kinesio tape are the knee and Ilio-Tibial band, elbow and wrist, shin splints, Achilles tendon, ankle and foot conditions such as arch problems and plantar fasciitis. There are also effective Kinesio taping methods for some forms of compartment syndrome and edema. 

I should mention that there is a certain art to applying tape. It’s important to understand the biomechanics of the involved area and the mechanism of injury. Skin preparation is important. The skin must be dry and free of any hair, sweat, oils or lotions. There is also a certain technique and method in applying the proper amount of stretch with the kinesio tape. 

For more information on sports and kinesio taping, feel free to contact Dr Morgan through the website, or directly by email – [email protected]