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General Wellbeing - Strapping and Taping.

This month, I'll be looking at some of the Strapping and Taping techniques that I use. The most popular taping technique for athletes at the moment, due to it's exposure at the 2008 Beijing & the current 2012 London Olympics, is Kinesio Tape.
kerri-walsh-kenisio-tapeWhat is Kinesio tape?

Kinesio tape was originally developed in Japan in the 1970s by Dr. Kenzo Kase. His aim was to develop a therapeutic tape that supported the joints and muscles without restricting movement. This approach is vastly different to conventional strapping techniques, which rely on immobilisation to aid recovery.

How does it work?

There are various different ways of using Kinesio tape, but all rely on it's elastic properties and using different degrees of tension in the tape. For general pain relief, it is believed that Kinesio tape lifts the skin and creates space subcutaneously (underneath the skin) allowing for increased blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and decompression of pain receptors, this in turn leads to less tension in the surrounding soft tissues . The tape can also be used to aid joint alignment, not by physically holding the joint in position itself, but rather by using it's elasticity to give the body a gentle 'pull' or 'reminder' where the joint should be. More specifically, it can also be used to tape over known 'tension' or 'acupressure' points on the client's body, this can enhance the overall treatment being given, especially if there are areas that have resisted attempts to release them during the session.

Why have different colours of tape?

Some manufacturers only produce a few colours of tape, others have a wider range available. The reasons for different colours vary, it can be simply for aesthetic purposes, or alternatively the use of colour therapy can be included as part of the treatment. For example, I have 4 different colours available to clients, on a colour therapy basis these would work as follows:

Pink tape - warming
Blue tape - cooling
Black tape - power
Tan tape - neutral

Personally, I find all colour tape has the same initial effect, which is the area under the tape feels cooler than before. As a therapist, I always leave it as a personal choice as to what colour tape is preferred. However, some practitioners will do a 'blind' test to determine the colour the client should wear. In short, the client sits with their eyes closed and palm outstretched and a roll of each colour tape is individually placed into their hand. The client then decides which roll 'felt' the best, but make the choice without knowing what colour it may have been.

What about the patterns?

kt cuts
Image from www.sportsmedinfo.net

Kinesio tape practitioners use several different types of 'cuts' depending on what results they are trying achieve. With a little invention, there are seeming limitless possibilities in how you can use the tape. To give a simple example, fan cut (see across) is often used to reduce bruising. The more complicated patterns start to emerge when treating different aspects of the same injury (i.e. swelling reduction, pain relief and joint alignment).



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