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In the past few years, you may have seen professional athletes sporting red and blue stripes along their arms and legs. If you participate in any running events, you may have seen some of your fellow runners with the same strange colored stripes. This is no fashion statement, this is one of the most exciting tools to help injury recovery and improve performance to be developed in the last 30 years!

Kinesiotape is a therapeutic taping method using a uniquely designed elastic tape. It enhances the function of many different tissues and physiologic systems. It can be used for acute or chronic pain, as well as helping in rehabilitation. It can also be used to help prevent reinjury. Kinesiotape is great treatment to use in conjunction with acupuncture.

Kinesiotape was developed by Japanese acupuncturist and chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase between 1979 and 1981. He wanted to develop a technique that would enhance his treatments and make them longer lasting. After much research, the tape was introduced to rehabilitation hospitals in Japan. The tape was brought to the USA in 1995 and has since spread throughout the world. Today, over 50 million patients and athletes have worn Kinesiotape.

Why use Kinesiotape? The purpose of Kinesiotape is to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, support normal muscle function, and reduce risk of re-injury. Traditional stiff taping methods compress and immobilize the joints. Kinesiotape is elastic and allows full range of motion. It can be used on muscle imbalances, postural problems, circulatory and lymphatic conditions, soft tissue injuries, neurological conditions, and more. It is comfortable, water proof, and can be applied and worn over extended periods of time to increase therapeutic benefit. The tape is made of 100% cotton and elastic fibers. The tape is roughly as thick and as the skin and latex free.

How does Kinesiotape work? The five main systems of the body kinesiotape works on are the skin, fascia, circulatory, muscle, and joints. On muscles, the tape can be used to inhibit (relax) a tight muscle. It can also be used to facillitate (strengthen) a weak muscle. By increasing or decreasing the tension of the tape, the effect on the muscles can be changed. This type of taping can actually support a healthy range of motion. For example, one of the most common applications is after successfully releasing muscles which cause a low back radiating down the leg (commonly called “sciatica”), the tape can be applied to give further relief and slow down the return of the pain.

Inflammation is modulated by the effect of Kinesiotape on the skin. The vascular (circulatory) system reacts quickly to the stimulation of the skin. The pressure of the tape on the skin may increase circulation and decrease inflammation. Taping a swollen area can actually reduce edema and swelling. Taping the bottom of the feet for plantar fasciitis will usually produce immediate relief.

Taping the ligaments or tendons can reduce stress on them. It can help restore a joint to normal function and protect it from further injury. Another common use is on “tennis” or “golfers” elbow; the compressive force of the tape really relieves this type of strain!

I have recently attended the first 16 hours of training with the Kinesio Taping Association International (KTAI). Since then, I have been using the tape and getting great feedback from patients. In my opinion, this is one of the best methods for supporting acupuncture or any type of manual treatment ever devised. Because the tape is elastic and can be cut to any length and configured in an endless array of patterns, Kinesiotape provides endless flexibility and utility. If you haven’t tried it, I look forward to introducing you to this incredible safe, comfortable, and effective healing tool!

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