What is taping, and how do physiotherapists use it?

Why is my physiotherapist taping my injury?

Taping is a common technique used by many physiotherapists, athletic therapists, or trainers on the sports field when dealing with a variety of injuries.

Types of Taping Techniques:

There is generally two types of taping techniques:

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Rigid Taping: rigid taping or strapping uses a stiff tape and is often used on the sports field to support an injured joint and allow an athlete to continue playing while managing an injury.

 

 

 

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Elastic Taping: There are many different brands of elastic tape. Elastic tape is often used as a tool by physiotherapists, to help enhance muscle activity, stabilize an injury or relieve pain by de loading painful structures.

 

 

 

As a relatively new tool for therapists, extensive research is continuously being conducted on the benefits and best uses of elastic taping for injury rehabilitation. Elastic tape has many different functions and can be used in a variety of different ways dependant on the type and severity of injury.


A physiotherapist may use taping techniques during your session in order to help improve three main areas:

Neurosensory: Help relieve acute or chronic pain and relieve pain by de-loading vulnerable or painful structures

Microcirculatory: Reduce swelling and inflammation through helping improve lymphatic drainage and increase blood flow

Structural: Stabilize or support an injury and facilitate normal movement, muscle action or postural patterns.

Tape is applied by a physiotherapist in different ways depending on its intended purpose.


Kinesiology Taping

KT TAPE, is an brand of elastic tape that has become increasing popular in sports communities and physiotherapy clinics. KT is not only used for sporting injuries but for a variety of other conditions. This tape was developed by a Japanese Chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase in the 1970's with the intention to alleviate pain and assist with healing of soft tissues.

KT is manufactured pre-stretched by 15-25% . It is able to stretch to 120-140% of its original length and is intended to mimics the physical qualities of the skin.  KT is waterproof and can be worn during exercise, or in the shower. This tape can last 3-5 days.


Benefits of Elastic Taping

  • Reduced muscle fatigue
  • Muscle facilitation
  • Proprioceptive feedback
  • Reduced delayed onset muscle soreness
  • Improved healing
  • Improvement of lymphatic drainage and blood flow

How does it work?

Elastic tape, such as the brand KT Tape has a variety of functions and benefits depending on how it is used. One major benefit of elastic taping, such as KT Tape is it’s assistance with improved lymphatic drainage and blood flow.  

When an area of the body is injured lymphatic fluid builds up around the injured tissue causing inflammation and swelling. An accumulation of lymphatic fluids can cause increased pressure on muscles and soft tissue leading to discomfort or pain. Lymphatic fluid helps transport white blood cells throughout the body and removes waste products, cellular debris, and bacteria.

Muscles are encased by a important layer of connective tissue called the fascia. Taping can help lift the skin, decompressing the layers of fascia, allowing for greater flow of lymphatic fluid helping clear waste products and cellular debris from the muscle.

Correct taping can also be used to provide support to muscles by improving the muscle’s ability to contract, even when it is weak, and helps the muscle to not over-extend or over-contract.

(adopted from kttape.com)


Do I need to use it?

Elastic taping is not only beneficial to athletes and can be used by the general population for a variety of injuries. Your physiotherapist will be the best person to decide if you would benefit from wearing KT tape or any other brand of elastic tape. The bottom line is taping is one of the many different modalities used by our physiotherapy team to help you recover from an injury.

If you have any questions about taping, come on in and book an appointment with our physiotherapy team.


 

More articles 

References:

Basset KT, Lingman SA, Ellis RF. The use and treatment efficacy kinaesthetic taping for musculoskeletal conditions: a systematic review. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy 2010;38(2):56-62.