To Tape or Not to Tape; That Is The Question

by Hamid L. Sadri, DC, CCSP, ICSSD, CSCS, CKTP, CES, PES

to tape or not to tapeThanks to Kerri Walsh, the beach-volleyball player during the 2006 Olympic games, Kinesio Tape, the original kinesiology taping method, found its way into the athletic world. Prior to the 2006 games, when I would mention Kinesio Taping to a patient, I would get a blank look! Today; I have patients that specifically come to us for this procedure. And of course, one must not forget all the self applied, “Youtube” promoted applications, which by the way for the most part are incorrect or at best ineffective! Many people finding themselves asking “to tape or not to tape?”

This method of “functional” taping was invented by a chiropractor (Dr. Kenzo Kase) who hypothesized that using an elastic adhesive such as the Kinesio-like tapes, one is able to cause a neurological change in the underlying muscles. This is presumed to be achieved through the manipulation of mechanoreceptors, which, put in simple terms, are specialized nerve endings that provide the brain information regarding the position of body parts in space. These mechanoreceptors are part of the sensory system that the brain uses to effectively control and coordinate motion and mechanical function. There are five basic types of application that the Kinesio Taping Association teaches and they are as follows:

  1. Facilitatory
  2. Inhibitory
  3. Structural
  4. Functional
  5. Lymphatic Drainage

The basic concept is to utilize the elastic characteristic of the tape in order to help improve function (this should theoretically decrease pain); or in the case of lymphatic drainage, to help reduce swelling. This can be done correctly ONLY if a proper diagnosis has been made (preferably not through self-research on WebMD or Youtube!!) and the individual applying the tape has detailed knowledge of anatomy, human biomechanics, rehab/exercise physiology, and last but not least, they have received some form of formal training (full certification is best) in how to utilize the tape properly. There are many factors that affect what the tape does and how its application may ultimately result in some sort of change in symptoms/function. For example, the direction of application, the area where it is applied, the amount of tension that is used for the desired outcome is only a few of the things that will make the difference between a “therapeutic application” Vs. a “decorative design”!

Unfortunately, I see many athletes/patients who either through the internet, or by means of “flyer” promotions or other forms of advertisements, are spending a lot of money (and yes; at about $20/roll, the tape is rather expensive) and applying the tape to various parts of their bodies with the belief that it will give them some sort of relief from whatever “pain” may be ailing them.

If you are considering using this form of taping, at least get a proper evaluation and the proper training in how to self-apply the tape for “your particular condition”. Otherwise, you are just wasting your money. Also, please keep in mind that this method of taping, as is almost all other forms of taping, is not meant to treat “a condition”. It is only meant to be used to assist in a desired therapeutic outcome and it will do so only if it has been used properly.

Dr. Sadri has been practicing in Decatur, GA for 25 years and specializes in athletic injuries and rehab. The clinic, 1st Choice Sports Rehab Center, was named “The Best Sports Injury Center in the Southeast” by Competitor Magazine. To subscribe to our newsletter click here. To schedule an evaluation, call 404-377-0011.