You may have noticed the bright strips of tape decorating our Olympians, Varsity athletes or even weekend warriors. The taping of joints, musculature, ligaments and tendons has been common practice in sport for decades. Traditional tapes were often non-elastic and used to support damaged joints, ankles and fingers being some of the most commonly taped. The taping world, however, was revolutionized in the 1980s by Japan when the Japanese and Korean Olympic athletes arrived with a new kind of colourful stretchy tape, which conformed to the contours of their body.
What is this elastic tape?
This new form of tape has elastic properties along its long axis and diagonal axis allowing it to conform to and follow the movements of the body and its joints. The tape itself is modelled after human skin in terms of thickness, weight and its elastic qualities – giving it the role of a “second skin” when applied. The external surface of the tape is a tear resistant cotton while the adhesive is acrylic based, marketed as latex free, and is patterned like a sinusoidal wave. This wave pattern in essence allows the skin to interact more optimally with the adhesive. It also improves the tapes permeability to air and liquids allowing athletes to wear the tape for days at a time.
How does it work?
There are a variety of ways to apply this innovative tape and each technique produces a unique function. All techniques, however, are based off the concept that this is a therapy is targeted at the surface of our bodies. The tape uses our skin, the largest sensory organ, to promote healing and improve function. The tape takes advantage of the unique relationship between the skin and muscles, fascia, internal organs and lymphatic systems. As the tape interacts with the skin, it imparts effects on all of these other body systems. The tape interacts with the skin and the millions of sensory nerves located within. The direction and tension of the tape as well as the position of the joint and musculature will influence its effect. Some of the effects of therapeutic taping includes:
- Increase or decrease muscle tone
- Increase muscle activation, muscle stabilization
- Provide ligamentous support and joint support
- Decrease pain
- Improve lymphatic drainage
Conditions that tape can be used for?
Therapeutic taping can be used to progress healing of the following conditions:
- Tennis Elbow
- Golfers Elbow
- Plantar fasciitis
- Patellofemoral Syndrome
- Muscle strains
- Ankle sprains
- Knee sprains
- Knee arthritis
- Patellar tendonitis
- Low back pain
- Rotator cuff pathology
- Many More…
The evidence shows that the tape’s effectiveness is enhanced by application from a clinician who has experience using the tape. Taping is a great adjunct to your physical therapy treatment plan. It can help speed up your injury healing time by supporting your muscles and joints during daily activities that cannot be avoided. If you are interested in learning about more about this unique taping technique or want to know if taping might be right for you, then contact us today to book in with one of our knowledgeable therapists.