If you watched the summer Olympics, you probably noticed colorful tape and intricate patterns adorning some of the athletes’ bodies. These designs weren’t for aesthetic reasons; rather, it’s an elastic therapeutic tape called Kineseo tape. The tape was created over 30 years ago for sumo wrestlers by a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist called Dr. Kenzo Kase as an alternative to rigid taping.
According to Kinesio Global, “the tape has a texture and elasticity very close to living human skin. It treats a number of conditions: orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical. It alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin, allowing pain and swelling to reduce.”
The practitioner can either customize the tape to the patient's needs or they can choose a precut pattern and put it right on the area. Athletes like the tape because it doesn’t restrict movement.
Tracy Campbell, PT, MPT, a physical therapist at Dynamic Rehabilitation Services in Valparaiso, has been using the tape on her patients for eight years. Campbell first encountered the tape when seeking a treatment for ankle injuries. “It really helps the ankle sprains,” she says. “I also use it for tendinitis conditions, such as with the Achilles tendon, the knee or the shoulder. It helps rest the tendon, which is what a lot of bracing does, but that can be cumbersome. I like to use it for women who have diastasis rectus abdominis, which means the abdominal muscles have separated. Some women can’t tolerate bracing during pregnancy and the tape is very non-invasive and helps them get the support that they need to encourage the fascia and muscles to return to their normal resting position.”
There is some controversy with the tape because there isn’t much independent research on it. “In the grand scheme, if it’s not doing any harm then it doesn’t hurt to wear it,” Campbell says. “If the patient is getting benefit from the tape, even if it’s placebo, then it’s worth using.”
People of all walks of life can benefit from the tape, but because it’s a taping method, it’s important to find a trained practitioner who understands Kinesio taping.
For more information, please visit kinesiotaping.com/global/association.