Wearing the Stripes to Ease Pain

Unlike standard athletic taping, which involves wrapping a joint for support and compression, kinesiology tape is placed in a variety of patterns depending on the injury. It is pulled to differing degrees of tension to create the desired effect and is typically worn for two to five days, unlike standard tape, which is used mainly during an activity.

            Kinesiology tape can be used to pull back a shoulder that is hunching forward. Or to reduce swelling in a joint, tape can be used to pull the skin and create an area of low pressure where fluid can move and drain, some clinicians believe the tape provides stimulations to skin cells that affects pain pathways-similar to rubbing a spot that hurts.

            Tape can be applied along the length of a tired muscle for support. It allows the muscles to go on vacation for a day of two so they come back healed.

            Bright- colored strips of tape in odd patterns are increasingly being seen on athletes. Kinesiology tape can help take pressure off overused muscles, reduce swelling and alleviate pain from injuries. Scientific evidence is mixed, but clinicians and patients say it works.

            The June 5, 2007, issue of The Sun newspaper ran a piece on Kinesio Taping, headlined “Beckham has it taped for fitness.” Reporter Eric Beauchamp noted that the star would be “in strapping shape against Estonia…. Beckham has turned to a new craze of binding muscles called Kinesio Taping to take the strain of his back.” Beauchamp continued, “The tape is now taking professional sport by storm as stars put on the tape to give their aching muscles more elasticity.

            “Beckham was introduced to Kinesio by Real Madrid’s physios and wore the tape to devastating effect in their last game against Deportivo La Coruna where he set up two goals.” The Sun also quoted Real spokesman Dr. Juan Carlos Hernandez saying: “We’ve been using Kinesio Taping for about a year. Other players have worn it before Beckham but after he was photographed with the tape the whole world is asking about it!”

            “The tape is made from a special material with elastic properties that protects and supports the muscles and we have seen it produces excellent results,” Hernandez was quoted.

            ESPN noted that  several trainers ” reported Kinesio’s use by half the teams in the NBA, although the author conceded that the tape “ can be tough to spot because league uniforms rules require it to be covered by armbands, sleeves or other approved protective gear. ” The story featured Garnett, “who began wrapping his right knee after undergoing surgery in May” and “swears by its ease of use and force of healing.”

             “Even Celtics coach Don Rivers uses Kinesio strips on his sore back,” ESPN wrote. The ESPN writer gave a brief explanation of how the tape works and that it is used for “ increasing  blood and lymph flow, which decreases swelling and provides support to underlying muscles.”

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