Physical Therapy Blog

Using Elastic Tape to Enhance Your Recovery

Muscle imbalance is common in the presence of pain, limited motion, and weakness.  Some muscles need to work more and some need to work relatively less.  In order to promote this muscle “teamwork,” tape can be used.

Taping, when applied with appropriate understanding of anatomy and function, can effectively eliminate pain, increase range of motion, or improve strength output.
Kinesiotape and KT tape are the 2 most common brands of stretchy tape that re-educate muscles.  The amount of stretch applied and the orientation of how one applies tape can significantly impact how a muscle responds with movement and loading.

Just today, when I applied tape to a woman’s scalene muscle in her neck, the amount of rotation motion she had instantly doubled.  Or with many people who have shoulder problems, the shoulder blade is not in the best position to stabilize the movement of the arm, so a person feels pain or weakness.  Using tape to stabilize the shoulder blade, and if necessary quiet any muscles which are interfering with this process (perhaps the pec minor), can instantly allow a person to use the arm without pain.  Have you seen the Olympic athletes with tape on their shoulders?  (Kerri Walsh, 3-time Olympic gold medalist in volleyball, actually is the spokesperson for the tape).

Tape can also enhance proprioception, which is the sense that tells our body where we are in space.  Say for example, you keep slouching and your head goes forward, causing the back of the neck to be sore.  We can apply tape to the neck to give it feedback when the head starts to creep forward, which stretches the tape and causes a correctional change in position.
This ‘magical’ tape can also decrease an area of swelling by stimulating the superficial lymphatics.

I see pretty awesome and almost magical results on a regular basis using these taping methods alone or in conjunction with McConnell taping when a joint needs more support.  There are those persons who have skin sensitivity to the tape, but that seems to be pretty rare amongst my patients.

This quick article from the blog of the National Academy of Sports Medicine recognizes the possible benefits:

Of course, like any other therapeutic intervention, it is meant to be used in conjunction with a thorough comprehensive plan of addressing the whole body and its movement patterns.  Usually, I use manual to facilitate the potential, use education and exercises to create awareness and a positive change in movement, and use the tape to further enhance the ‘education.’

Interested in trying it or learning how to use it?  Give me a call or shoot me an email.