Strapping and taping techniques
Kinesiology tape and taping techniques have existed since the 1970s and has gradually gained popularity since the early 2010s. However, strapping and taping techniques are nothing new and have existed for millennia. Since ancient times, bandages have supported tissue healing, held dressings in place, and restricted joint movement or fluids. Materials used in strapping and taping will historically be due to material availability and relevant material property knowledge. Each type of fabric will have different properties, partially based on the raw material used and the end material construction method. Modern technology, materials, and adhesives have made it possible to create various types of strapping and tapes with differing properties. The market for taping products is now huge, with manufacturers offering the sports tapes in an ever-increasing number of colours and fashion designs. Equally, there are many brands of kinesiology tape, as it is known. It is worth noting how modern-day kinesiology tapes came about, which has relevance for the general public.
Professional sport and taping
Professional sports involve enormous amounts of financial investment, time and effort to win medals or specific games. For example, training for events like the Olympics can take years. Equally, clubs can make huge financial investments in professional football players, with the clubs expecting a return on that investment. There is a "shelf-life" or career duration in professional sport, which is often relatively short in the scheme of things. Contact sports and pushing the body to absolute limits can inevitably result in injuries. In "normal" (general public) circumstances, there may be time for an injury to heal fully. However, professional athletes have competition schedules, and missing competitions can have ramifications for the athlete, the athlete's supporting network, and the investor returns. There is massive pressure for athletes/players to compete even when injured when considering all these factors. Unfortunately, the reality is that tissue healing takes time, and there is relatively little that one can do to speed that process up (see tissue healing article Tissue Healing, Adaption, Biotensegrity - Myotherapists perspective). However, re-injuring tissues can certainly slow the process down, make things worse and increase the overall healing duration. However, if an athlete needs to perform, the support network has to find ways to get the athlete through the competition as best they can and deal with possible consequences later. Hence, various strategies and techniques came about to enable competition while injured and aid recovery post-injury. Kinesiology taping and techniques are just one of these methods or strategies.
Kinesiology taping and the general public
Many of the competing factors or pressures surrounding professional athletes do not apply to the vast majority of the general public. Usually, there is adequate time to allow injuries to heal, which is the best option. However, there are occasions where people wish to continue with an activity, even when injured, and kinesiology taping can help enable that. Also, some inflammatory conditions are easily irritated, such as Achilles Tendinopathy and Plantar Fasciitis, and taping techniques can help support tissues, aid healing, limit irritation and any resulting inflammation. In many respects, Kinesiology tape is similar to a brace or other artificial support and does not address the cause of the symptoms. A patella brace is a good example of such a device, but it does not address why somebody is experiencing patella knee pain (see Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome article. There are occasions where a support structure (brace) is necessary due to trauma or a congenital abnormality. Ideally, one should only use a brace when needed, as the body adapts (see tissue adaption article Tissue Adaption - An MSK Therapy perspective). Braces will impact how we move, and movement patterns are easily subconsciously learnt, and tissues adapt accordingly. Equally, in some cases, braces can negatively impact longer-term recovery and become viewed (psychologically) as necessary by the patient/consumer for daily activities. Hence, ideally, patients/consumers should only use braces and taping strategies when needed. It is probably worth noting that although the professional sports Kinesiology taping market is substantial, the potential home-consumer market is gigantic, and tape manufacturers know that. Hence, the products are now in widespread use, and it is common to see people with all types of designs and colours of kinesiology tape walking around. It is debatable whether the majority of the general public actually warrant the need or hugely benefit from using the tape in most circumstances.
Kinesiology Tapes differences
As was briefly mentioned, there are many brands and varieties of tapes with differing properties and purposes. White zinc oxide tapes are commonly used in sport to restrict joint movement. Such tapes can also be good for protecting skin in areas of potentially high friction, such as the balls and heels of feet. White zinc oxide tape consists of inelastic white cotton material, and an adhesive backing and so is still flexible and very strong. Unlike white zinc oxide tape, the materials used in kinesiology tapes have varying degrees of elasticity. Some types of Kinesiology tape work similarly to human skin and stretch in a multi-directional fashion. Other types of tape can stretch in a uni-directional manner (one direction). There are also specific tapes for use in watersports, and so tapes exist with different types and strengths of adhesive. Hence, kinesiology taping is not just about sticking tape over an injury area. An experienced musculoskeletal professional will know which type or combination of tapes to use, how to apply them, and when to achieve the desired outcome. Some professionals charge additionally for ancillaries, such as taping, dry needling etc. hence it is important to find a good ethical one (see the article on Finding a good, ethical Musculoskeletal health professional). As mentioned, taping is a short-term preventative or post-injury treatment strategy rather than a solution to a specific injury.
Massage and Myotherapy Registrations
Terry brings over 15 years of experience working in the MSK field back to Australia from the UK. He also has training in a wide array of techniques and currently works as a Myotherapist. His main areas of interest relate to trauma and myofascial pain relief. He has also taught as a senior course coach on one of the first myotherapy courses in Brisbane.