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Product Knowledge
May 2014

Taping it!

Muscle pain can also be relieved and muscle movement supported by applying kinesiology taping, explains RHIANAH FREDERICKS.

K inesiology tape (or kinesio tape as it’s popularly known) first gained popularity after exposure at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when physiotherapists used it on athletes taking part in the Games.

Since then, it has become synonymous with just about every sport. Clients are now demanding the product, says Marlene Harris, sales representative for Medac.

“Many consumers are intrigued by the tape and are willing to learn since they saw Olympians wearing it,” agrees Adam Closenberg, from Terra Brands.

Kinesio tape was developed by a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist more than 30 years ago. He developed the tape to overcome the limitations of other (rigid) sports taping.

The problems his patients experienced were related to the muscles, rather than the joints. Kinesio tape was designed to be applied around the muscle, but still has the ability to help with joint correction.

The designs of these tapes are based on kinesiology — the science of anatomy, physiology and body mechanics.

The use of kinesio tape involves, but is not limited to, taping over muscles to minimize pain and inflammation, relax tired muscles that are suffering from overuse and to support muscle movement.

Many practitioners (physiotherapists, physicians, etc.) that use the product on their patients have seen positive results — whilst others are not as keen, and want more research to be done.

There are many different types of kinesio tapes on the market, each claiming to help with something different. Some are designed to lift the skin, give stability and support to muscles and joints without limiting the body’s range of motion, help increase circulation and improve the metabolism.

Others help to relieve pain and swelling in the muscles, can be used for relief of muscle-related pains, such as hamstring tears and shin splints, or used for most soft tissue injuries e.g. plantar fasciitis (inflammation in the sole of the foot).

Among the popular features is the ability to assist muscle movement without restricting the natural movement of the body. This is due to the tape’s elastic qualities. The ability of kinesio tape to stretch beyond its resting length, allows it to imitate human skin.

In order to reap the full benefits of kinesio tape, advise your customers to have it applied by a professional who is trained in the technique of applying this kind of tape. The application involves stretching the tape as it is applied in order to create a ‘pulling effect’ on the injured area.

Injury or overuse of a particular muscle leads to a reduction in the natural elasticity of the muscle and skin around it — kinesio tape is used as a substitute for the skin’s own elasticity.

Kinesio tape comes in many different colours and lengths. The length of the tape has a direct impact on its healing properties. Some are pre-cut, whilst others can be bought in a roll and cut to length as needed, to activate the properties associated with the specific tape.

Make sure that you stock the real deal and not a cheap imitation. The tape has become popular and companies have tried to copy it by supplying standard tape in various colours, which offers none of the benefits of a kinesio tape, warns Andrew Wentzel, from W.E.T Sports, local distributors of LP Maxtaping.

Strapping vs taping

With athletic strapping you apply compression to soft tissue in order to reduce strain caused by swelling, but the kinesio taping methods lift the upper layers of the skin to create space in order to drain fluid (lymph) in an affected area. A vital distinction between strapping and taping is that because kinesio tape has a texture like human skin, it allows a full range of motion, compared to strapping, which limits muscle movement.

Kinesio tape, however, does not offer the degree of stability that strapping does, warns Harris.

Also, strapping is usually applied before the athlete will compete and is removed immediately after participating, whereas kinesio tape may be worn well beyond the intended athletic event.

There are some similarities between kinesio taping and products that are also used for improving circulation, such as compression garments. They also differ in many respects.

“Taping is lightweight and used in a specific area, whereas compression garments are pulled over the entire extremity in order to give support,” says Closenberg.

The tape is also recommendable to anyone who suffers swelling or pain in their muscles.

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