Jan 29, 2015
Tale of the Tape

Since its debut, elastic therapeutic taping (also known as kinesiotaping) has been growing in popularity. On Tuesday, there will be a learning lab about applications to the upper extremity, and on Thursday morning, there will be an advanced track seminar about using the tape on the lower extremity. Check out this excerpt from an article that Jayson Goo wrote for T&C about elastic therapeutic taping last year. Goo will be one of the leaders of Thursday morning’s seminar.

Using the tape correctly requires specific education and training. The different applications for this modality include muscular; mechanical; fascial; space, ligament, and tendon correcting; functional; and lymphatic. It would be impossible to explain in one article how elastic therapeutic tape is applied to produce maximum benefit, but the following overview will provide an outline of how these treatments work and why they are effective.

The essential first step is to identify an athlete’s symptoms and determine their cause. Like any other treatment approach, it’s important to not simply address an athlete’s pain and limitations, but to fix them at their source.

Once a practitioner has determined what area of the body requires treatment and decided the mechanical lifting and pain relieving effects of elastic tape are warranted, the next step is choosing the shape and length of the tape application. The tape is commonly cut into the shape of an X, I, Y, a web, or a fan.

The shape that the tape is cut into depends on the size of the area being taped and the specific effects desired in the target zone. An “I” cut is commonly used when taping a tendon, and “Y” cuts are more suited for muscles. “X” cuts are often best when taping broad areas of the body, and the web and fan shapes are used in the lymphatic techniques and for scar reduction.

As tape is applied to the skin, the practitioner adjusts the amount of stretching and lifting depending on specific correction and tissue manipulation goals. This process is a combination of art and science, and it’s a learned skill that’s refined through experience with different types of athletes and injury sites. Often it’s not a matter of choosing one type of application and sticking with it, but rather using progressions and combinations of different modalities. Trial and error and listening to athletes’ feedback are sometimes the best ways to achieve the desired outcome.

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