Taping is a popular adjunct to a variety of physiotherapy treatments and most often seen on athletes and sporting fields, but can be an amazing support for things like back pain and postural tweaks. There are many taping techniques and types of tape, depending on what we need to achieve but in essence it comes down to 2 main taping types: rigid and flexible or kinesio tape.
Rigid taping is used to purely restrict or change the range of motion where as flexible kinesio taping options are used to provide compression, proprioception and change the way a joint or a muscle works. When applied correctly, both rigid and flexible taping methods are used to protect a body part, promote healing and to assist with early and safe return to activities or sport.
Kinesio tape is one type of flexible taping and is used to mimic the skins elasticity, allowing full range of motion with tailored support. There are a variety of brands on the market that go by similar names (k-tape, dynamic tape, RockTape, kinesio tape etc) but in premise, they are all the same. Kinesio tape can be used as a feedback mechanism during movement allowing muscular retraining as the pull of the tape on the skin allows more feedback to your nerves on where the body part is in space. We commonly use this technique in the clinic during early stages of treatment for some light compression, pain relief and muscle activation without creating stiffness. This works particularly well for posture corrections where the tape can be used to apply subtle force to correct neck and shoulder position and when we “slouch” the tape tightens. Additionally, kinesio tape is great on a big, swollen ankle as it provides amazing pain relief and compression without adding to any joint restrictions. The tape can also be cut into a “jellyfish” style to aid with lymphatic training and treatment of any bruising. At City Physio, we commonly use kinesio tape for a variety of body parts but most commonly you’ll see it on shoulders, knees and ankles. Kinesio tape is also loved by runners for its non restrictive knee support.
In terms of “how to tape with kinesio tape”, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different techniques! It all comes down to a thorough assessment and diagnosis and this will govern how and where the tape is applied. Kinesio taping the ankle will be very different if it is for a sprain vs a tendon problem, just as kinesio taping for kneecap tracking will differ than taping for arthritis. There is not a one size fits all taping approach unfortunately but generally speaking you want tension where you want support- for example under the kneecap or on the side of an ankle sprain. And in most situations you want the tape to “pull up” along a muscle, or towards the trunk to aid in lymphatic drainage.
Rigid tape is used to stabilise a joint and prevent excessive or unwanted movement. More frequently we will use this tape to create stability in an unstable joint, or to prevent a movement we do not want to occur. For example: post shoulder subluxation or dislocation, knee ligament tears and ankle sprains where the joint now moves into a range that is unstable, excessive or painful. Additionally- rigid tape can be used both in response to injury and in the prevention of injury. For example, most unstable knees and shoulders are a result of a sporting injury such as a ligament tear, and so taping for these is both necessary to prevent additional injury but to stabilise any laxity that now occurs. Ankles however are taped both with and without injury- this is seen most commonly in Netball where ankle sprains are a regular occurrence. Preventative taping of the ankle may decrease the risk and severity of any ankle sprains that occur while the tape is on.
At City Physio, our physiotherapists will go through an extensive physical assessment to determine the injury sustained and the type of taping required for joint support, muscular activation or mechanical feedback. The Physiotherapists at City Physio have extensive sports coverage backgrounds and are all trained in a variety of taping techniques for sporting and everyday application.
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