Taping – The Whys And Hows
One of the coolest tools for supporting your muscles (or at least I think it’s cool!) is taping.
Let’s have a look at what taping is, what it can help, and if it’s right for you.
What is taping?
Put simply, taping is when we use a specially designed tape to support your muscles and/or joints. It’s not a treatment to use in place of your healthcare practitioner. But it is a tool that we use to help support your body between treatments.
What can taping help with?
It has a variety of applications! As a myotherapist, I use taping to:
Stabilise joints that are injured or weak
Increase proprioception, or location awareness, of the body part
Aid in recovery from acute and chronic injury
Reduce fluid and swelling in an injured body part
Enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries
It can be helpful for a variety of people, from athletes to people with chronic pain and those with an acute injury.
What types of tapes are there?
There are two main types of tape that I use in the clinic: rigid tape and kinesiotape.
Rigid tape is just what it sounds like. The goal is to hold the joint in a specific position for a period of time so that it is able to recover.
Kinesiotape is a newer kind of tape that moulds to the skin and moves with the body. It is less restrictive, and is helpful for many applications.
It’s particularly useful for helping people to be aware of how they are holding their body.
When we’re injured, we tend to hold ourselves wherever is least painful – but that’s not always the best location for recovery! This tape helps you to be aware of that, so you can correct it.
Kinesiotaping also has a pain reducing effect by applying a constant stimulation to the skin. Its applied with the tight muscle in a stretched position, so that when you return to your normal posture the tape holds the muscle slightly stretched. You might see or feel the tape pucker - that is what its designed to do!
Can I do my own taping?
I’m not your mum. If you want to DIY your taping, that’s up to you. But there are benefits to getting it done professionally:
1. You get taped with high quality tape
2. If it’s a repeat taping, I will quickly reassess to see whether a different taping technique may be better – for example, I might use rigid tape for the first taping, then switch to kinesiotaping. I might even use both!
3. I make sure that the injured part is positioned correctly
4. You don’t have to tape yourself one-handed, or twist around to tape anywhere on your back half!
There are things you can do to make sure your tape lasts and your skin stays happy:
To make sure tape adheres properly, it’s best to avoid exercise or showering for 1-2 hours after taping.
Although you can shower with your tape, it’s best to let it dry properly. Otherwise, it might get a bit smelly! Pat it dry rather than rubbing it with the towel so the ends don't come up.
If the ends do come up, theres a few things you can do. The Kinesiotape is heat activated, so usually giving it a quick rub to get heat back into the tape will get it sticking again. If the tape is only coming up a little at the ends but won't stick back down, putting a bandaid over the top to hold the end down can give your tape a little extra life. If its coming up a lot, trim the tape (or ask someone to help you trim it)
When removing tape, take your time! Some people can have fragile skin that is inflamed or may even tear when removed too quickly. Slowly remove the tape in the direction of your hair growth (otherwise you might get an accidental wax effect!)
If your tape is stuck fast, use oil to dissolve the stickiness - even cooking oil from your kitchen can do the trick! Some clients also remove it in a hot shower for the same reason.
When you remove your tape, leave the skin to recover for a day or two before re-taping. Otherwise, your skin is at risk of being damaged.
Do your joints need some taping support, but you don’t want a full myotherapy appointment every week? Never fear! For current clients, I offer a taping service – you pop in, and I’ll get you taped up for just $25. You can get re-taped between regular appointments, AND you can still claim it on your health insurance! To book in your slot, contact me directly or call 0401212934.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully. She has a special interest in chronic pain conditions, like fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and more.