Called “the latest Olympic accessory,” millions of viewers became curious and enamored with the colorful Kinesio tape they saw spiraling and striping the bodies of their favorite Olympians. From volleyball players to track athletes and platform divers, this summer’s London venues were accessorized by this newly popularized tape. Taping in general is not new to athletes, though. It has traditionally served a variety of purposes, from immobilization to position changing and posture improvement.
Taping for Immobilization
This traditional purpose of athletic taping may be used to immobilize a sprained ankle or other traumatized joint. Athletic trainers nearly always have the commonly used firm, white tape handy and have been trained and experienced in adeptly applying it. The tape achieves a cast-like appearance after being wrapped repeatedly around the injured joint. Olympic venues in which such taping is often seen include gymnastics and soccer, where ankle sprains are common.
Taping for Protection
Similar to taping for immobilization, broken or sprained digits are often treated with what is sometimes referred to as “buddy taping.” With this taping method, the injured finger or toe is taped to an adjacent finger or toe for stabilization, in order to lessen the potential for re-injury.
Taping for Therapy
When a joint or bone requires a physical change of position, so-called “McConnell” taping can be included in physical therapy. Runners with displaced knee caps, or patellas, can be assisted by this invention of a physical therapist named McConnell. The tape is used to help the patella to track correctly in the underlying groove by pulling it slightly to the side.
Taping for Posture
Like putting a foul-tasting substance on a child’s fingers to deter nail-biting, taping of this sort can be used by physical therapists to remind those with poor posture to sit or stand correctly. For instance, when tape is placed between the shoulder blades, a patient who tends to slouch forward will be reminded to sit up straight. By encouraging correct posture, taping can promote the strengthening of postural muscles.
Taping for Support
Unlike other athletic tapes, Kinesio tape is elastic, allowing it to support and help contract the muscle tissue and the surrounding soft tissue, lessening strain on an overused muscle. The makers of Kinesio tape promote its use in order to reduce swelling to damaged muscles. It was originally developed in 1979 by Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist who saw detrimental effects of traditional taping methods. Because he believed that standard athletic tape could extend injuries and inhibit the flow of inflammatory fluids, he developed a more flexible, circulation-stimulating product.
Some believe that the verdict is still out regarding the effectiveness of this new form of athletic taping but either way, it’s bound to increase in popularity by those athletes who want to at least look like an Olympic legend.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their website at www.PhysioDC.com or call them at 202-223-8500.
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