Taping has been a component of rehabilitation for many years. In recent years we have seen taping assist athletes in high profile sporting events such as the Olympics and professional sports such as baseball, basketball and golf. Many of these athletes wear colourful tape in well defined and sometimes intricate pattern, based on their dysfunction or pain. But what does tape do? How does it help athletes and can it help me?
First you have to understand that there is more than one type of tape. Conventional athletic tape has been around for decades. You may see it being used on football players ankles, boxers hands or volleyball players wrists or fingers. Its designed to support a joint and limit its range of motion. If your goal is to support an injured or vulnerable joint this may be a good option for you. For example taping after a sprained ankle limits the ankle’s range of motion and provides stability to prevent further injury.
If you are however looking for a way to compliment or enhance your recovery conventional tape may not be for you. As it limits movement, that goes against one of the main goals of rehabilitation; to improve range of motion. It can also impair blood flow. Because it is not elastic, depending on how tight it is applied it can constrict the arteries in the area. It also looses it strength and tension when used for long periods of time and gets bulky and uncomfortable for every day use.
Recently elastic rehabilitation tapes have emerged and have taken the spotlight in the media. They are made with a combination of cotton, nylon and acrylic fibres to provide support, stimulation and stability. They are designed to provide benefits for rehabilitation, injury prevention, postural support and performance enhancement.
Rehabilitation tapes provide elasticity to support muscle activation without causing skin irritation or constricting movement. For people using tape as a part of their day to day life or for athletes you don’t want to “fight” your tape through range of motion or your activities. You want it to complement or assist you in what ever it is that you have to accomplish.
Rehabilitation tapes are applied to improve movement and overall performance. Many manufacturers also claim that their product increases blood flow and control inflammation to maximise your healing.
The goals of application is to maximize the sensory feedback from receptors in the skin. If you can heighten your body’s awareness of where it is in space you can enhance performance. These types of taping procedures takes into account the kinetic chain that is affected and not the individual muscle or joint. I’m sure we can all agree that muscle don’t act independently. They act synergistically to optimise their function and facilitate movement. If you apply tape across a group of muscles that work in synergistically, however are inhibited, the stretch of the tape is like a reminder to that group of muscles to activate.
When you think of runners, one term that is used often is runny economy; how to move the fastest while using the least amount of energy. If a runner is running with inefficiencies in their running stride, such as too much vertical displacement or “braking” when they strike their feet this can lead to slower race times. By applying tape to the right areas, you can stimulate where certain body parts are in space and the way certain muscles contract to make these corrections to your form, thereby improving performance.
The same applies to rehabilitation. When you are injuries and in pain, with limited range of motion, you tend to move differently to avoid pain. This may not be the most beneficial for you or economical in terms of injury prevention or energy consumption. Taping can help to correct these aberrant movements.
Whether your problem is pain, lack or mobility or performance, taping can help you. The right type of tape applied in the right way is necessary to benefit from using this accessory. For more information, call us at 647-504-4213 or visit us at 2100 Finch Ave W, unit 212, Toronto, ON.