Tag: Rehabilitation

Kinesiology taping for pain- how does it work?

Kinesiology tape has become massively popular over the past few years, gracing the torsos of Olympic athletes and sportspeople around the world- and whilst there are conflicting messages coming from the research around it, the tape appears to show promise for a range of issues.  A recent review showed that there was moderate evidence to support the use of tape to reduce pain, so let’s look at how tape can help.

Properties of kinesiology tape

    • 100% cotton, latex free tape
    • Medical grade acrylic adhesive which is heat sensitive allowing the tape to stick to the skin
    • The thickness, weight and elasticity of the tape is approximately that of skin, so most people can tolerate the tape without issue
    • Allows for free movement and does not restrict movement like other tapes may
    • The elastic properties provide support and reduce muscle fatigue

Where some tapes are stretched out to maximum capacity before being applied, kinesiology tape is less effective when fully stretched out- in fact, mastering the art of how much stretch to apply is one of the main skills to learn when using tape.

The risks of using tape are minimal, and whilst the research surrounding tape is still in its infancy, we can use it safely in clinic knowing that we’re not causing any harm and are instead likely to see great results which will help contribute further to the use of kinesiology taping.

How taping works to reduce pain

kinesiology taping pregnancy pain lymphatic fluid kinesiotape rocktape sporttape fitness health exercise training running injury sports fit health runner run sprint gym Emsworth Hampshire chiropractic chiropractor Philippa Oakley Acorn Health
More space = happy structures!

When taping for pain, inflammation, swelling or oedema, we use a technique called “space correction”. This does what it says on the tin- creates more space directly above an area of pain, inflammation, swelling or fluid build up, which helps decrease pressure by lifting the skin away from the fascia.

This has a number of effects:

  1. Decreased pressure alleviates the irritation on chemical receptors in the underlying structures, thus decreasing pain
  2. Increased circulation may occur in the area, allowing for increased removal of cells or fluids that can build up during the inflammatory process
  3. Stimulating mechanoreceptors (sensory receptors in our skin that pick up pressure or distortion) can help decrease pain

The initial benefits are reducing inflammation and pain, but there are thought to be neurological benefits

too- when the tape is placed over tight muscles, it appears to reduce their response to being stretched, helping to make them feel less sore and painful. When applied over weak or injured tissues, the feedback these tissues send to the brain is altered and improved, which can help the body to stabilise the area.  This is how we can then move on to use the tape for fascial correction.

In some cases, as with ankle inversion injuries (rolling over on the ankle), there is an imminent risk of further injury as the ligaments in the muscle have been stretched out and therefore aren’t able to stabilise the joint as effectively as usual. In this case, the patient’s initial injury was over 7 days ago so we have used a fan application to encourage lymphatic flow but also applied a light-stretch support around the lateral part of the foot to help stablise the injured ligaments.

Lymphatic fan taping helps to reduce fluid build-up by directing lymph fluid towards a less-congested lymphatic pathway and lymph nodes. We use the anchor of the tape to indicate where we want the lymph to flow, much like directing traffic! Whilst this is an advanced taping technique and one that would be applied by your practitioner, it demonstrates the myriad uses of kinesiology taping perfectly and shows how effective it can be in helping reduce inflammation and aid recovery at a cellular level.

Take home notes:

There isn’t a barrage of research to support the use of kinesiology tape, the papers that are available show positive and encouraging results. Every new treatment modality has to start somewhere, after all!

kinesiology taping pregnancy pain lymphatic fluid kinesiotape rocktape sporttape fitness health exercise training running injury sports fit health runner run sprint gym Emsworth Hampshire chiropractic chiropractor Philippa Oakley Acorn Health(Think of Louis Pasteur testing out his Rabies vaccine on a 9 year old. Sounds nuts now, but that’s where most great ideas starts from- somebody going “I wonder if….?”) 

Much like any treatment, there will be an element of placebo involved, but studies like this and this have shown that the effects of kinesiology tape can’t be reproduced by placebo taping.

Simply put, the mechanisms and understanding behind how and why kinesiology tape works are grounded in scientific thinking and understanding. It’s a safe, low risk, effective way to help your body towards recovery, and whilst it’s no replacement for treatment, rehabilitation and injury management, it helps to put some of the power of recovery back into your hands.

NB: Whilst tape can be applied by anyone, it is important to have the issue diagnosed by an appropriately qualified healthcare or medical professional prior to using kinesiotape or allowing someone else to apply it. As with any form of treatment, you want to ensure the treatment is appropriate for the issue and eliminate any other underlying issues which may mean taping is inappropriate.

Tennis player serve back extend injury Hampshire Emsworth Chiropractic sports injury exercise fitness core strength flexibility stamina

Tennis: Injury prevention and performance

Tennis is without doubt one of the most popular summer sports around- both social and an effective form of exercise (plus, if tennis means Wimbledon that also means strawberries and Pimms- can’t go wrong there!)

As a recreational activity, tennis players do subject their bodies to stresses through ballistic movements and repetitive motions. Whilst these often occur at specific parts of the body (tennis elbow, we’re thinking of you here) these can be the catalyst for more widespread challenges, because dysfunction in one joint can impact significantly on others.Tennis player serve back extend injury Hampshire Emsworth Chiropractic sports injury exercise fitness core strength flexibility stamina

The most common injury we tend to associate with tennis is, of course, tennis elbow (read about that here), but the ankle, hip, lower back and shoulder are also susceptible to injury, be it tendon injuries, plantar fasciitis or muscle tears. Stress fractures (caused by repetitive loading of the upper extremity) are also widely reported, and there are even rare vascular injuries reported, likely due to the compression of the large vessels in the armpit whilst serving.
Tennis is physically demanding with lots of sprinting, flexion, rotation, extension and lateral bending of the spine and related joints, and so a certain level of fitness is critical to help withstand the repetitive stop-start movements, bending, twisting and rotation. When we see a tennis player in clinic we also have to consider the dominant side of the person, as these repetitive motions can lead to one-sided disorders. In fact, when looking at a tennis player it is often easy to spot
whether they are left- or right-handed simply by looking at muscle tone and size!

Let’s talk technical tennis!

The ankle is often injured in tennis due to shearing forces that occur at the subtalar joints. The plant-pivot action often seen in tennis players causes translational distortions throughout the rest of the body, not to mention repetitive shock absorption, and in turn these lead to dysfunction both locally and in more widespread joints and tissues due to compensatory changes. For example- repetitive shear forces through the ankle can cause altered gait biomechanics, which in turn can compromise the stability of the pelvis and the lower back, leaving the player with not only an ankle injury, but also potentially other problems in his pelvis, hips or lower back.

Tennis player serve back extend injury Hampshire Emsworth Chiropractic sports injury exercise fitness core strength flexibility stamina
We’ve all seen a tennis player serve- the racket moves over the head and behind the body whilst the spine flexes laterally and hyperextends- the trunk must then be brought into very rapid flexion to smash the ball, whilst very high velocity rotation causes a corkscrewing motion through the spine, transferring force and torque (twisting) into the spinal segments. The tennis serve places more load and stress on the spinal structures than any other stroke in tennis, and these shearing forces can lead the lower back susceptible to injury. Think of Andy Murray and his microdiscectomy surgery on his lower back in 2013- the large forces transmitted through the lumbar spine can cause intermittent lower back pain that can eventually lead to retiring from the game.

In addition to ankle and lower back problems, the shoulder also has to work hard during the serve to stabilise the glenohumeral joint when it is extended, preparing to serve. This relies almost completely on the rotator cuff muscles, who not only have to stabilise the shoulder but also cope with the added issue of the tennis racket- which further increases the distance from the shoulder to the moment of impact in the centre of the racket. When the rotator cuff muscles are weak, there is excessive “play” in the movement of the joint in the shoulder socket, causing irritation in the surrounding tissues.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Only ≈ 20% of #energy needed to serve a #tennis ball comes from shoulder- the rest is from hip, trunk & core strength” quote=”Only around 20% of the energy needed to serve a tennis ball comes from the shoulder- the rest is from hip, trunk and core strength.”]

So how do we avoid injuries?

  • Cold muscles are more prone to injury so always take time to warm up and stretch before any game.
  • Proper muscle strengthening and conditioning will help minimise the reduce of most injuries. Shoulder injuries are usually due to poor conditioning and poor strength of the rotator cuff muscles so these should be appropriately stabilised.
  • Pay particular attention to technical components such as grip size and proper technique can help reduce the likelihood of developing tennis elbow.
  • Tennis player serve back extend injury Hampshire Emsworth Chiropractic sports injury exercise fitness core strength flexibility staminaAppropriate footwear is critical to preventing stress fractures (which often occur in the leg or the foot) in addition to supporting the arches of the foot and ankle.
  • Focus on technique- the need to hyperextend through the lumbar spine when serving can be reduced by bending your knees and lifting your heels, which allows your upper body weight to be more evenly balanced.
  • Introducing specific core stability exercises will enable tennis players to achieve better balance and proprioceptive abilities (proprioception is the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and understand their position in space without having to look!) With this, players are better able to stabilise their body through the extreme ranges of motion it undergoes during tennis.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Remember that #tennis isn’t exercise. It’s a #sport. You have to exercise in order to play the sport!” quote=”Remember that tennis isn’t exercise. It’s a sport. You have to exercise in order to play the sport!”]

Tennis player serve back extend injury Hampshire Emsworth Chiropractic sports injury exercise fitness core strength flexibility stamina
Stay stamina and stability savvy to avoid injuries!

Pluim, B.M., Staal, J.B., Windler, G.E., Jayanathi, N. (2006) Tennis injuries: Occurrence, aetiology and prevention. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 40(5) 415-423

Pluim, B.M., Drew, M.K. (2016) It’s not the destination, it’s the ‘road to load’ that matters: a tennis injury prevention perspective. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 50. 641-642

Sell, K., Hainline, B., Yorio, M., Kovacs, M. (2014) Injury trend analysis from the US OPen Tennis Championships between 1994 and 2009. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 48. 546-551

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