Have you ever seen a jogger with really, really poor form? Maybe you thought to yourself, “I’m no expert, but something is off with that guy’s stride.” Maybe the lady throws one foot too far out to the side, or the man is obviously holding his shoulders at a stooped angle. Now think about the thousands of strides that person takes in a given month, and how much damage they may be doing with their poor form. Bad cases are easy to spot in runners, because their motion is so repetitive, but it happens in every sport!
In your sport, are you practicing bad habits that set you up for injury in the long run? The answer might be Yes. And this is one of the many uses of kinesio taping: correcting habits of “bad form.” A gentle kinesio restriction can serve as a tangible reminder to keep your limb in the right place, or simply prevent the “bad habit” movement in the first place. And that’s just ONE use out of many.
It can reduce swelling, promote lymphatic drainage, and improve circulation. It can stabilize a joint, while still allowing enough flexibility for full range of motion. It can help support you when you have a muscle tear or strain, by giving just the right consistent “pull” where it’s needed most.
But how is it different from traditional athletic taping methods? There’s a world of difference. Kinesio tape does everything athletic tape can do, but better, because it’s a more up-to-date material. Kinesio tape has tremendous qualities of elasticity, going back to its original shape in a way that athletic tape cannot. But it’s the application methods that are most important and extend far beyond anything you’d ever expect from regular athletic tape.
Kinesio taping methods have evolved continuously since their invention in the 1970s. For any one of hundreds of physical problems, there is a prescribed technique to support it, restrict it, or pull its muscle mass a few degrees off to the side. Like with our imaginary “bad form” jogger, it’s these few degrees of adjustment that make all the difference.
Although a colorful Kinesio tape application may look like some pretty artistic expression, each configuration has a very specific purpose. One application may focus on giving skin that extra fraction of an inch it needs to keep lymphatic fluids moving and prevent swelling. Another application may hold a tennis player’s shoulder back five or ten degrees, so that she doesn’t wrench it. A different design may be calculated to keep a knee from twisting at too sharp an angle when its owner isn’t paying attention.
The designs may look pretty and appear haphazard, but each strip has been carefully planned out, and applied at just the right angle with just the right degree of force. Your chiropractor focuses on understanding the complex relationships of muscles, joints, bones, and nerves. And because of that study, those colorful applications you see on patients at her office may look like a bright page from a coloring book, but they are actually valuable tools to promote alignment and prevent injury.