I hope many of you were able to watch and enjoy the summer olympics these last two weeks. It was a great olympics for many of our athletes. While I anchored myself to my couch to watch some of the world's greatest athletes compete I realized that many of you might have seen some of the athletes wearing colorful tape on various body parts and did not know what that was.
I decided that it would be better to let my associate, Stephanie Sepe, explain this - she is a Certified Kinesio Tape Professional. This is her explanation.
That tape you have seen throughout the Olympics is called Kinesiology Tape, or Kinesio Tape (pronounced KIN -EEE - ZIO), which is applied to the body to help an injury (Yes folks, it’s not just for show!). Kinesio tape is flexible and stretchy, unlike other athletic tapes that are restrictive and tight. While restrictive tapes have their place, and are very beneficial to help immobilize and support a joint, Kinesio tape does not restrict motion. This allows the athlete to have full motion while also getting the specific benefit the kinesio tape gives them.
Kinesio tape can be applied in different ways, each with a unique effect on the body. It can be used to facilitate a muscle's function - meaning it will allow the muscle to perform better or assist the muscle during it's contraction. This is beneficial for muscles that may be injured but need to perform better during competition.
It can also be applied to inhibit a muscle, or allow the muscle to relax more. This can be helpful if the muscle is strained or painful. Many times injured muscles can go into spasm and this is effective at reducing the spasm.
Kinesio tape can also be used to help decrease swelling in the muscle if the area is inflamed. This works by applying a slight tension onto the skin which allows the lymphatic system to work better in transporting fluid away from the injury.
The difference between these three effects is based on how the tape is applied (with varying tensions) as well as where it is applied (to specific anatomic locations).
Kerri Walsh (one of the beach Volleyball Gold medalists) is a great example for Kinesio tape use. Kerri was wearing Kinesio tape on her shoulder. In this case, it appears (based on the way she was taped) she was facilitating a rotator cuff muscle to help support her shoulder, as well as relieving pain at the point the rotator cuff attaches to the shoulder. (She had rotator cuff surgery prior to the Beijing Olympics in 2008).
Kinesio tape will not fix or eliminate an injury, but will help the body to accelerate the healing process, while allowing you to continue to participate in your sport or activity without pain. Many non-athletes also benefit from Kinesio tape as well. I use it to help people with neck, shoulder, low back, knee, and ankle pain all the time.
Kinesio tape should only be applied by a certified Kinesio taping professional, such as a physical therapist or athletic trainer. If Kinesio tape is applied incorrectly it can actually have the opposite effect of what you are looking to do.
For more information/comments/questions please contact me through this blog, or at Next Step Physical Therapy in Hicksville at 516-681-8070. www.nextsteppt.com
Thanks for Listening,
Stephanie Sepe PT, DPT CKTP