Kinesiology Tape: It's what the Olympians Wear
Kinesiology tape has been on the athletic scene since the 1970's, yet I get asked almost daily, "What does it do?”. Kinesiology tape suppliers (such as KT Tape and RockTape) suggest there are three different applications for the use of kinesiology tape: 1.) reducing pain signals, 2.) improving motor patterns, and 3.) reducing inflammation.
Reducing Pain Signals: Pain is a sensory signal that travels from the site of tissue damage to the sensory interpretation area within the brain. Other sensory signals compete with pain by traveling along the same pathway and dulling the sensation of pain. An example of this is your instinct to stand on your toe after stubbing it in an effort to make it feel better. Similarly, by placing strips of kinesiology tape over areas of pain, we challenge the pain signals from that area. In turn reducing the pain signals traveling from that area.
Improving Motor Patterns: As indicated above, kinesiology tape provides sensory input to your nervous system. As a result, the tape can be used to increase body awareness of muscle groups and motor patterns. Think of your GPS...when you type in a destination, multiple routes are highlighted. Generally speaking, your GPS puts you on the best path but offers other options. Similarly, while there are many ways to achieve a desired movement, there is typically only one motor pattern that is most efficient in utilizing the correct sequence of muscle activation. However, the brain does not always select that “path”. By applying kinesiology tape over the correct “pathway”, we increase the likelihood that the brain will default to that correct pathway. Ultimately improving motor patterns, improving performance, and preventing future injury.
Reducing Inflammation: Inflammation is generally characterized by redness, heat, swelling, and pain. The use of kinesiology tape to decrease pain has been referenced above. However, it can also be useful to reduce inflammation. Kinesiology tape placed on any area of skin is applied in such a way to create convolutions in the skin. The result is a separation between the superficial layers of skin/fascia from the deeper layers of fascia and muscle tissue. This slight separation improves fluid flow through the area, including blood flow. Increased fluid flow flushes the area, allowing for the removal of cellular waste and distribution of new oxygen and other healing properties. By increasing healing properties and decreasing inflammation, use of kinesiology tape can help to reduce overall healing time.
Each respective application in the use of kinesiology tape serves an important role across the healing-to-performance spectrum. As such, kinesiology tape is often a component of treatment in the Function First Chiropractic offices. Now when you leave the office looking like Kerri Walsh, hopefully you have a better understanding as to why!