By Josh Martin, RMT, SMT(cc), CKTP, CMAG
It’s a common question posed to several of my clients in the days following their treatment for a particular injury or condition: tattoo or tape? Many have experienced the significant benefit of having a new tribal patterned, water-resistant and highly adhesive tape used as a part of their rehabilitation intervention. You may have even noticed some of your favourite Peterborough Lakers sporting this tape over the past two seasons! This new treatment modality is making waves in the medical community, piquing the interests of many while raising multiple eyebrows and questions. In this article, we will briefly explore the use of therapeutic taping for the rehabilitative process.
The Tale of the Tape
There are more than 250 different types of kinesiology or elastic therapeutic tapes on the market today. Made popular at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, these bright coloured stripes of tape received world stage exposure. Many athletes, coaches and trainers are familiar with these tapes (Kinesio™, K-Tape™, Rock Tape™, SpiderTech™, etc.). They are all very similar and based on the same principles of proprioceptive input to facilitate or activate muscles and also, and maybe more visual, a lifting potential to decrease bruising and swelling.
In recent years, as my practice and skill evolved to focus more on the biomechanics of athletes and injuries, I became frustrated with the limitations of these popular tapes.
One summer day a couple of years ago, while listening to a medical podcast, an Australian musculoskeletal physiotherapist now living in the South Pacific was discussing Dynamic Tape™, a new biomechanical tape born out of the same clinical frustration that I was experiencing. I soon contacted Ryan Kendrick, inventor and owner of this new tribal-patterned modality regarding bringing this tape to Canada. Thus began my journey as a therapist and
Canadian instructor with Dynamic Tape.
How Does it Work?
In the management of many soft tissue conditions, a focus on altering biomechanics can drastically affect and improve function and therefore pain. Dynamic Taping is a highly-elastic tape that stretches in all directions. It has strong elastic recoil and is designed to provide a strong mechanical input (think bungee cord) while permitting full range of motion even during complex, multi-directional movements. In order to achieve this, the viscoelastic Dynamic Tape stretches well over 200% and does not have a rigid endpoint like a kinesiology tape (140% mimicking stretch of skin). It also stretches in all directions to allow full movement.
As muscles have different angles at which they contract, the four-way stretch allows the tape to more closely mimic the function of the target muscle. Dynamic Tape is applied with the muscle or joint in the shortened position so that as lengthening occurs, the Dynamic Tape stretches and resists, thereby absorbing load and providing a deceleration force to reduce the demand on the muscle.
Once deceleration is complete and shortening commences, the elastic potential energy is converted to kinetic energy to assist the transition to the concentric contraction (active shortening of the muscle). Taping techniques can involve multiple joints, introduce rotation and cross the midline with no limitation to movement.
Along with the above-mentioned mechanical effect on load, the tape exhibits strong neurophysiological effects, which decrease bruising and slow the progression and even decrease inflammation that occurs after injury or impact. The picture on the right is a bruise sustained during a lacrosse game, taped within two days of the initial injury, and the tape was removed three days after application.
A major factor in the obvious benefits seen by those wearing Dynamic Tape is the ability of the tape to resist moisture and therefore last several days to more than a week without causing skin irritations or negative reactions.
Who Can Use the Tape?
Dynamic Tape is now being used by professional teams, elite and Olympic athletes as a part of their therapeutic interventions, but the general public is also starting to notice the huge benefits in common conditions such as low back pain, Tennis Elbow, knee pain, ankle sprain, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, plantar fasciitis and many more!
It is incredibly important to note that the application of Dynamic Tape should be based on the foundation of a full clinical assessment with sound clinical reasoning.
You will not be able to find this product on the shelves of a local store, as techniques for application are based on the aims of treatment that a trained health care provider has determined are necessary based on their findings.