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What's With All The Tape?

Have you ever been at the gym or watched an athletic event and seen someone covered in strange patterns of tape? Maybe along their shoulder or calf? Have you ever wondered what the purpose of the tape was, or exactly why they were using tape instead of a brace? Here’s what you need to know about the method behind this tape, what it does, and how it’s useful.

In the past, when someone was physically injured, it was common to restrict movement as a way to allow the area to heal. Throw a brace on it so you’re not moving it so much or at all and let it recover, right? But through numerous studies and a better understanding of injuries and the healing process, the practice has changed. For some injuries, that movement restriction is still very important, but for many, full restriction is actually counter-productive; decreasing circulation to the area and causing a weakness of the associated muscles. Instead, controlled, stabilized movement and bracing are far better. We’ve seen this with the changes in recommendations surrounding slings and bracing for the last decade or more. And this is where all that tape comes in.

A Japanese chiropractor named Dr. Kenzo Kase wanted to dig deeper to find a method that supported movement while keeping the muscles safe. He created the first elastic therapeutic tape called Kinesio Tape in 1979 and the methods of use for it. There are now numerous versions of this same type of tape under a variety of brand names and methodologies, but they’re all based on the same concepts.

One of the great things about this tape is that due to the components, it can stay in place for days at a time, even through sweating, showering, and daily activities. For some, one application is all it takes to stabilize and allow healing to take place. Others may require numerous applications over time. It all depends on the exact injury and how your body responds and heals. It’s important that you pay close attention to how you feel before and after the tape application and how your movements are affected, and relay this information to your massage therapist. We can adjust the tape however you need to best suit your body.

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