I was working with ART at the 2000 Ironman championships in Kona, HI. Something was wrong with my ankle. I could barely walk because every time I tried to flex my foot, a sharp pain shot through the top of my ankle! Nothing was getting rid of it. I was super frustrated. Here I was, surrounded by the best PTs, massage therapists, and chiropractors in the country (in my opinion)…and NO ONE was able to help me. Along came a recent chiropractic graduate to tell me he had something that would fix it. Exasperated, I let him apply a bright blue piece of tape along the top of my shin tomy foot. He told me to leave it on for a few days. According to him, this tape was called Kinesiotape, and it was lifting the skin off the soft tissue which would allow lymphatic drainage and pain reduction…(“yah, right!”) I couldn’t comprehend the mechanics of putting tape down on the top of my foot as a way of alleviating rather than compressing the problem. I thought it was going to be a complete waste of time…and instead, ALL of my pain disappeared. ART, massage, adjustments–nothing had any impact (nor was I able to get a working diagnosis). This strange piece of tape worked like magic.
I didn’t forget about the existence of Kinesiotape, but I was caught up learning ART and trying to survive chiropractic school–so it was put on a back burner. About 5 years later, I was working on a physical therapist who had carpal tunnel. She asked me to if I knew how to use Kinesiotape. I had not taken the time to go to a seminar and I did not want to make any mistakes, so I referred her to a hand specialist who taped her twice. The first time she had amazing relief. However, the second time, she immediately experienced burning pain through her hand. She quickly took off the tape and the symptoms disappeared as fast as they came on. To me, her experience illustrated the power of the tape. If it really didn’t have any effect, she would not have had such a painful reaction to the tape. At that point, I decided to learn more about Kinesiotape–and how to do it myself.
In a nutshell, Kinesiotape works on several different levels–depending on how you apply it. Like traditional taping, it is useful as a brace to support injured muscles and joints. It also reduces inflammation and improves circulation by creating space between the skin and the fascia. It helps with plantar fascitis, ankle sprains, knee pain, low back sprains, neck pain, carpal tunnel, rotator cuff injuries to name a few.
It also works to allow correct muscle and joint function, thereby enhancing posture and/or movement. For example if someone has trouble with the tracking of their knee cap, the tape can be used to help the weaker muscles engage. In addition, it can work to allow for a stretch or contractile input into the tissues, which assists both in healing, pain relief, and/or ideal movement. In short, it does a TON. And, I was so excited that I took the time to explore it.
Now, it’s been 9 years since my first experience with the miracle tape, and more people know about it than ever. When Kerry Walsh showed up at the Olympic games with black tape all over her shoulder (yes, that was K-tape), people were talking almost more about her shoulder than her gold medal! There are also (at least) 2 other types of tape–rock tape and spider tape–on the market. The 3 brands of tape are similar. I find that each has attributes lacking in the other, so I keep all 3 in my office to make judgements of which one to use on an individual basis.
One last note…I think it is fantastic that more people have easy access to both the tape and instruction. The tape is sold at local stores, and there are videos of how to apply it. My only concern is that if someone doesn’t understand the mechanics of normal movement, normal stretch/contraction mechanisms, they can miss the point of how they should be taping. The end result would not be life altering, although the benefit of using the tape would not be maximized and worst case, they might create future problems for themselves.
What color tape do you want to use?