Kinesiologic tape

Kinesiologic tape, or kinesiology tape (AKA kinesio tape), traces its roots back as early as 30 years ago, when a chiropractor of Japanese origin Dr. Kenzo Kaze had a quenchless idea to create something similar to artificial skin. Such “skin” had to perform the function of a specialist’s palm, moving the patient’s skin and impacting the underlying deeper structures, 24 hours a day, several days a week. Why should we create anything similar to artificial skin? Just because the skin – our largest organ of cognition – is a structure rich in nerve endings, tiny glands, various receptors and pelage, which must perform its functions round the clock.

It took 7 years for Dr. Kaze, working together with biomechanics physicists, to create such kinesiologic tape. It was introduced to the world in 1988 at the Olympic Games in Seoul. But why is our kinesiology taping history only 4-5 years old? This is because in terms of cash turnover weapons trading and pharmaceutical business occupy the first ranks in the world. It is more profitable, of course, to invent and approve at the EU level countless anti-inflammatory drugs, all with the same active substance, than to manufacture a relatively cheap cotton tape, affordable for everyone.

Kinesiology tape features the following characteristics:

  • tape thickness corresponds to the average thickness of a human epidermis;
  • it stretches in the longitudinal direction only, for about 55-60% of the initial length;
  • the sticky surface is covered with acryl adhesive, which is hypoallergenic and thermoactivating. In theory, when removing the tape, no traces of glue shall remain on the skin, but in practice it does occur due to the dust in the atmosphere, peel-off of the keratic layer of epithelial cells and active rehabilitation of a patient;
  • the tape comes in various colours – this works as a colour therapy;
  • it can be wetted, therefore, a gentle use of bath, shower or even sauna is possible;
  • in theory, kinesiology tape performs its functions for 3–4 days, but 3 years of practice have proved that it works for 1–2 weeks, in some cases up to 3 weeks;
  • the fundamental key is an accurate positioning of elastic fibres, the unique structure which reminds a fingerprint. It should be taken into account, that the fibres are sensitive to heating with a hair dryer or other powerful “heater”. After the tape is heated a patient experiences a come-back of previous symptoms;
  • a patient’s awareness and involvement improve in the absence of discomfort;
  • low costs compared to the effect achieved.

Kinesiology tape functions:

  • microcirculation improvement – both capillary blood flow and lymph rolling improvement, removal of edema;
  • pain relief;
  • muscle function improvement in case of hyper/hypotonus, muscle fibre rupture, muscle shortening or hypo/atrophic musculature;
  • joint apparatus reinforcement.

Microcirculatory improvement occurs, when the tape lifts the epidermis off the superficial subcutaneous fascia, thus expanding the existing microcapillary and subcutaneous lymph nodes. An “edema pump” is imposed on the problem area (edema, muscle prone to seizures, inflammation of the joint, post-operative period, etc.) and is powered by the patient during active movement. As a result, the patient has a sensation of heat in the area of application, because the capillary circulation improves at the same time. In practice, for patients with chronic trophic ulcers and diabetes, it has demonstrated a positive effect on the healing process.

If the tape is applied properly and a patient moves the problematic area actively, the stimulation of the skin mechanoreceptors occurs in the area of application during movement. Interestingly, the impulse of the mechanoreceptors comes to the spinal cord through the same posterior horns, and this signal is more intense than a nociceptive receptor signal, thus it inhibits nociceptive impulses receptor synapses. It eases greatly the painful structure rehabilitation for a patient, because pain interferes with our attempts to move the joints in full range of motion. During rehabilitation, pain persists, but this impulse either does not reach the cerebral cortex, or it is relatively weak, consequently, a person either does not feel the pain or the pain becomes significantly decreased – this in turn depends on the amount of the damaged structure.

The pain coming from the patient’s muscles can be removed by stimulating in motion the skin mechanoreceptors above the damaged muscle, but, removing the tapes, or even one of them, the pain returns, and this way the fantastic method is improperly presented to the public. Improving a patient's biomechanics and giving time to get used to the tape (usually up to three application sessions), he/she feels just as great after removal of the tapes as with them. Sometimes we hear the phrases: “The method is good and attractive, but when the tapes are taken off, the pain comes back!” When collecting answers about where the pain was and what the tape application looked like, it seems that the masters were Dr. Google and Dr. Youtube. Not wrong at all, but not therapeutic.

Colour therapy also contributes to the patient’s involvement. In nature, each colour creates a magnetic field and certain type of vibrations, or sound; these fluctuations stimulate the liquid environment of the cells and change the metabolic processes. The literature does not mention exactly how these metabolic processes are impacted and what biochemical explanation is associated with each colour. For this reason, when making applications, tapes of various colours are available to let a patient choose his/her favourite. More sceptical patients do not believe in colour therapy, as some tape manufacturers claim that the colours are only required to distinguish which tape piece has been cut for which part of a body. However, please ask yourself then why nearly all manufacturers’ tapes feature the same colours, including the manufacturers who do not recognize the colour therapy? Pink colour tape rolls of two different manufacturersdo not differ by as much as a half-tint!

The basis of kinesiologic taping is a deep understanding of each ailment’s physiological essence. A specialist must understand and be able to explain to a patient that in case of a severe organic ailment the kinesiologic taping method will provide only symptomatic treatment, but, by activating natural compensatorymechanisms, it will considerably ease the clinical condition also in the dynamics.

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