Okay, so the title might sound more like a Nigel Latta series, but what I am discussing here is taping for injuries and pains. Ultimately, there are two types of taping techniques commonly used: Kinesiology taping and strapping tape for support.
Kinesiology tape is the stretchy, often brightly coloured tape that sports people frequently wear. There are many brands, with RockTape one of the best known.
It can be distinguished from typical strapping tape by its apparently minimalistic application. Often, it may only consist of one long strip and a short strip intersecting it. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a hoax, as it looked to be offering no bio-mechanical help at all.
However, its application is very different to inflexible strapping tape. Kinesiology tape allows the joints and muscles to move, and helps reduce the stress on one area by spreading it across the structure more evenly. It promotes better blood flow, which further aids healing. It tends to reduce muscle spasms and assists with inflamed tendons. So it can be a very effective tool for reducing pain, as well as speeding recovery time. It can also help to normalise altered muscle function where there may have been incorrect movement adding to prolonged injuries.
Kinesiology tape is attached to backing paper, which keeps it in good condition and makes application easier. However, there are a few critical things to be aware of when applying this tape.
• Apply a small test patch on skin for up to 24 hours before taping the injured area, in case you have a reaction to the adhesive.
• It is more effective to shave the area first to remove any hair.
• Use clean hands and don’t touch the adhesive part, so the adhesive works properly.
• Apply to clean skin and don’t apply moisturiser or oils beforehand.
• Apply to the specific muscle with the muscle in a stretched position.
Strapping tape is used to immobilise an injured or weak joint. If you have ever sprained your ankle and had it taped, you will be familiar with this. The tape is often skin-coloured and it has no backing paper. Typically, multiple layers are applied to add strength and limit unwanted movement. This tape should not be applied to new injuries without professional guidance, however, as it can over-compress any swelling and cause serious complications.
Generally, taping can be performed as part of a self-care regime, but it should always be guided by a professional who can assess if it is appropriate, as well as safe.
And don’t forget, with all tape, always remove it slowly, otherwise skin can and does get ripped off with it!
• Remove after two days and allow the skin to rest before re-applying.