What do Olympians Serena Williams, Trey Hardee, and Kerri Walsh Jennings have in common with some OrthoVirginia physical therapy patients? They both have used Kinesio Tape as a method to help muscle function. This taping technique can help facilitate or inhibit muscle firing, thus enhancing these athletes’ performance. In the physical therapy world, this tape helps decrease pain, inhibit hyperactive muscles or muscles in spasm, and encourage weaker muscles to fire. How does this tape work? The tape provides proprioceptive feedback with its pull on the skin and thus helps improve neuromuscular mobility. This tape is elastic, unlike athletic tape, so it moves easily over the area which it is applied. When applied correctly, clinical research has found that there is a decrease in pain and inflammation, increased range of motion, increased circulation and improved lymph transport, and normalized muscle tone. Most importantly, it helps improve movement, endurance, and reduces fatigue, when the proprioceptive feedback of the neuromuscular system has been compromised by injury, surgery, or pain.
In physical therapy, Kinesio tape can be used for a variety of things. When use of this tape is followed by appropriate, therapist guided exercises, we can help correct muscular imbalances. For example, a patient who has rotator cuff tendinitis may have weakness of the rhomboids and other scapular stabilizers, causing improper mechanics of the shoulder. When tape is applied to facilitate scapular muscles, improve alignment of the shoulder, and improve tissue mobility, therapeutic exercises are less painful and more effective at retraining and strengthening. Thus, there is an improved outcome from physical therapy overall. Other common uses of Kinesio tape can be to decrease upper trapezius muscle tone associated with neck pain, facilitating quadriceps contraction and patellar stability associated with several knee pathologies, and enhancing muscle recruitment and balance of postural muscles to decrease back pain.
Kinesio tape is not a cure, but it is an effective tool being used by physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other trained professionals to achieve improved muscle performance and function. Our goal is to integrate a variety of treatment techniques to achieve a quicker recovery and long term positive outcome. If there are any questions please feel free to ask a therapist.
~Shannon Lasowitz, DPT