Monday, 17 November 2014


The concept of Kinesiology or 'Movement' taping has been in existence since the 1960's but has shot to popularity in the last few years with many famous sportsman seen using it to enhance performance.

Initially regarded as a FAD and placebo, studies are now starting to provide evidence that supports the use of kinesiology taping.
A recent paper I read on Patella-Femoral (knee) pain suggested that correct application of this taping strategy had a positive effect in reducing an individual's pain and elicited an improvement in performance. Depending on your sport and what level you compete, the  margins for victory can be small, wouldn't you like to try something that is affordable and could make the difference between winning and losing.

Within the layers of the skin and encompassing the joints there are specialist receptors that identify stretch, strain, pain, hot, cold, vibration, pressure.
All of these receptors provide the brain with a picture to inform it of what is going on around the body, allowing it to transmit its positional sense, this is also known as Sensory input.
The brain then uses this information to coordinate subsequent movements, also known as Motor output.
By placing the target tissue on a comfortable stretch you are in fact exposing these receptors deep within the skin. The tape is then applied to alter the message being sent to the brain.
Following injury the central nervous system in the brain starts to receive an incorrect SENSORY INPUT (Picture) from the injured tissue this can be attributed to any of the factors listed below:
  • Offloading the injured limb (possibly with crutches to protect form further damage)
  • Pain due to swelling & cell death
  • Loss of flexibility through not using the muscles around the joint
  • Loss of joint range of motion due to reduced use through pain
  • Loss of strength (1% for every day of immobilization)
  • Ligament damage
  • Joint damage
The body will always adapt to the environment in which it is exposed to, leading to changes in its movement patterns. The result of a poor picture going in to the brain, is a faulty MOTOR OUTPUT (order) in this case could be an individual displaying a limp without noticing and or using the good leg more to compensate for the weaker ankle)

Depending on the application of the tape, the aim of the clinician is to place the tissue in a position to illicit the correct sensory input (message in), in turn ensuring the movement coordinated by the brain promotes a correct motor output.

As demonstrated here in taping the ankle for stability of the lateral ligament complex. Rigid taping only provides feedback and support to a joint for around 10 minutes before becoming loose and ineffective.
It is non-elastic, restricts full range of the joint and is compressive affecting the blood supply.
Not that I am knocking an age old taping strategy but in my experience it is far more useful when trying to limit someone post injury to prevent further damage & support the PRICED protocol
In contrast to rigid taping, Kinesiology tape is waterproof, elastic, light, allows full range of motion & is cost effective lasting up-to 3-5 days depending on how it is applied. I have  tried to Rigid tape Football players  before matches but it either stops them putting their boots  on or affects the blood flow and is uncomfortable.

I hear people talking about the various colours of the tape and how more effective one is compared to the other or stickier.....

In truth all tapes are the same however there is some cognitive reasoning behind the colours which is as follows:
  • Blue- Applied to provide a cooling effect (cognitively) to areas of injured soft tissue suffering from increased blood flow, swelling, inflammation
  • Black- Absorbs the sunlight better when playing outside which activates the adhesive far  more effectively
  • Red- Provides a warming effect to weak or inhibited muscles to (cognitively) allow an individual to 'feel' the area working
  • White- Used in clinical backgrounds such as hospitals
  • Beige- Used in some sports due to its similarity to skin colour

The answer to this is virtually anything from the following lists and much more:
  • Shoulder joint pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Headaches
  • Swelling
  • Patella tendon pain
  • Shin splints
  • ITB Friction syndrome


The tape is elastic and has a natural recoil at 50% tension, this essentially means that if you apply the tape (one square) to the body (also known as an anchor strip) with no stretch, then take the tension up-to 50% the tape will always recoil back towards the original anchor. This is a significant factor when applying to the muscles to achieve a particular effect (explained below)
Inhibiting muscles- Applying the tape from the point where the muscle inserts to the point where it originates to effectively 'lengthen the tissue' and help to 'switch it off' should it be overworking. the example to the right demonstrates an inhibition application to the Gastrocnemius and Soleus of the Triceps Surae muscle Group. This could therefore be useful for someone presenting with tight overused calf. Individuals who are in a running program, mid season sports or suffering muscle pain

Facilitating muscles- Applying the tape from the point where it originates to the point where is finishes or inserts will help to 'switch on' and shorten to activate the tissue. Facilitation is useful for people who present with weakness in postural muscles, it can help individuals to activate muscles that help stop the back from hunching or shoulder blades from rounding and tipping forwards.

If individuals are suffering from poor posture such as a rounded upper back from too much sitting or driving the tape can be used to facilitate a change to body position and help maintain awareness of keeping correct posture. In my experience it works well at helping maintain a neutral pelvis and shoulder position, limiting pain in the lower back and neck.

Following injury such as a direct impact through a tackle in football or intense exercise such as long distance running, the body goes through a process of removing dead cells and commences the laying down new ones also known as repair and regeneration. This is completely normal and part of the tissue healing process however if it not managed correctly then your tissue will remain weak, exposing you to long-term chronic problems

 As a remedial masseur I would not be keen to 'touch' or 'massage' tissue post injury (up-to 48 hrs) instead I could help to support the healing process with a Lymphatic application in conjunction with ice intermittently, every ten minutes for the first 8 hours (anything after the first 8 hrs is generally for pain relief).
The body has lots of specialized cells called lymph nodes that help to remove any waste products and damaged cells through 'The Lymphatic System'
The two pictures show how the tape can help to 'draw' the lymph towards the nodes in conjunction with the circulatory system. 
Following tissue damage, pain is normally present due to swelling which irritates free nerve endings leading to a feeling of pain
This application will help to 'lift' the tissue and promote fluid flow/ circulation and reduction of pressure in turn limiting pain.

The tape can be used to support strained ligaments such as those found in the ankles (following an inversion, trip or fall), knees or even to support dislocated shoulders following excessive loss of control at a joint. A simple joint ligament application could be all you need to complete a run or event with peace of mind

The most commonly injured tendons in the body are the Achilles and patella which are tasked with transmitting huge amounts of force from the quadriceps and triceps surae group
Kinesiology tape can be applied to help offload Tendons and reduce pain, stiffness... essential if you suffer from problem injuries such as tendonitis or partial tears due to overuse.
This is vitally important when you consider how the quality of tendon fibrils reduces when most individuals pass the age of thirty. The image to the right shows a really effective achilles tendon offload, I prefer this for long distance runners, triathletes.

The tape can also be applied to ensure the CORRECT movement of connective tissue known as FASCIA. If fascia is restricted the body will very quickly develop relative flexibility and cheat to produce a movement. A full explanation of FASCIA can be found below

 Fascia is like a giant web, it is a connective tissue that lines the bones, the organs, it separates muscles into working compartments, functional chains & lines every cubic centimeter of the body.
Fascia is so important in movement, when there are muscular dysfunctions present such as poor gluteal activation the fascial connections to other muscles compensate to stabilize the pelvis. Unlike a muscle that has a start & finish point, fascia actually pulls against itself to provide stability a term known as tensegrity. Interestingly it is also now believed that if you strip all the muscle off the skeleton the remaining fascia is strong enough to maintain the shape of the body. Fascia is now believed to be responsible for attaching up-to 80% of a muscle to bone in contrast to tendons which account for the other 20%  

Imagine throwing a pebble into a pond, you would expect the wave like ripples to flow away, this is the same concept with fascia, it supports effortless movement of the body.
Overuse, tissue trauma & injury affect the composition of the fascial connection which leads to changes in the way your muscles & body move.

If you think this type of therapy could help you in one of the five different ways discussed please get in contact for advice or to book an application. 

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