This is an interesting read – very well put together by Dr Ben Stevens from the Valeo Health Clinic, British Columbia. Some great links for more information too.
I find it amusing, if not somewhat disconcerting that so many clinicians and athletes don’t take the time to learn more about kinesiology taping. The number of times I have heard people scoff, with little to no information on which to base said scoff, tells me it is time to start pointing some people in the right direction.
So, let’s break down some common misconceptions about Kinesiology taping right here and now. I am not going to go through all of these points and try to convince you of the exact effect. I will just point you in the right direction with lots of links and thinking points.
Misconception #1 – Kinesiology Tape only effects the skin, and hence has minimal effect.
- The brain/nervous system and skin develop as the same germ layer in a growing embryo (ectoderm). This is exclusionary; all else develops in the mesoderm or endoderm (the other two germ layers). But the nervous system and skin, they get their own layer. They are buddy-buddy. They are extensions of one another. If you’ve taken an embryology course in your life, take a look back at that textbook.
- There are three main types of feedback during motor learning: visual, auditory, and…you guessed it: tactile (AKA Haptic). Yes, this topic is much more complex and each of these has sub categories. If you really need to be convinced that all three are important for accelerating the learning of novel tasks or highly complicated tasks, then simply let me Google that for you. You may also find this robotics-inspired tactile feedback garment rather interesting. Oh, and here’s an interesting abstract about feedback. Note the 100% feedback for relatively complex tasks. Interesting, right? So there is something to this tactile feedback stuff?
- Superficial fascial layers of the body are more densely populated with mechanoreceptors than tissues situated more internally. For a short insight, check out A theoretical framework for the role of fascia in manual therapy. Make sure to go through the reference list on that one, and check out Schleip’s interestingly written article here.
Misconception #2 – The effect is purely mechanical
Yes, this is an extension of Misconception #1…
In my humble opinion, any manual therapy clinician who thinks that all of what we do is “mechanical” in nature is behind the times. FAR behind the times. Sure, some of it is. However, I would beg to say that we are slowly coming to the understanding that even our ”mechanical” approaches to pain and function are deeply rooted in neurological, physiological, and often psychological bases. I digress…
Prior to the advent of kinesiology taping, most people (clinicians and lay public) viewed taping as a purely mechanical endeavour. For all intents and purposes, taping was strapping. It was meant to prevent motion in a one or many planes.
- The Effect of Kinesio Taping on Lower Trunk Range of Motions (Yoshida)
- Cutaneous stimulation from patella tape causes a differential increase in vasti muscle activity in people with patellofemoral pain (MacGregor)
- Kinesio Taping applied to lumbar muscles influences clinical and electromyographic characteristics in chronic low back pain patients (Paoloni)
- Short-Term Effects of Cervical Kinesio Taping on Pain and Cervical Range of Motion in Patients With Acute Whiplash Injury (an RCT by Gonzalez-Iglesias)
- Degraded postural performance after muscle fatigue can be compensated by skin stimulation (Thedon)
Misconception #3 – The effect is purely neurological
As you may have guessed by the last two misconceptions, a lot of the effect (as I teach it, anyway) is through cutaneous/neurological/fascial feedback loops. In my opinion, if that’s all you understood about Kinesiology taping, then you’re well on your way to being a dandy tapeologist.