Resolving muscular pain using kinesiology tapes

I was introduced to some kinesiology tapes manufactured by Nitto Denko recently. I have seen the Kinesiology tape being used probably as far back as in the 90s. I have also used it on and off on myself and on others while helping out part time at the then Singapore Sports Council. Athletes used it very often for a variety of reason but mainly to relieve muscular pain. Although there are many advertisements and websites claiming many wonderful results, it may not be a wonder tape that they sometimes claim them to be. Research by Thelen, Dauber and Stoneman who wrote in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy in 2008, found that it does not decrease pain intensity or disability for young patients with suspected shoulder tendonitis. Another study by Yu Konishi published in the "Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport" 2013, states that kinesiology tape did not significantly enhance muscle strength as claimed by Dr. Kenzo Kase, inventor of the Kinesio Taping Method. Does that mean that there is no benefits to kinesio taping. One needs to look further back in time on the research of muscular pains for the answer.

Dr Janet Travell  was the personal physician to two American presidents (John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson). Dr Travell spent many years researching on skeletal muscle pain and worked with Dr David Simons for 30 years. Both of them wrote two huge and important volumes on "Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction:Trigger Point Manual" . Drs Travell and Simons have painstakingly mapped out what they termed as "Trigger points" in various muscles in the human body. By treating these trigger points, they managed to resolve the skeletal muscle pains. The 2 doctors offered some possible explanations to the trigger points but they did not claim for sure the actual mechanism of the trigger point phenomenon. They suggested treating the trigger points with either of the following methods:-

1) Injection using dry needling technique.
2) Vapocoolant stretch and spray technique.
3) Massaging the area of the trigger point.

At a later stage in the 1990s, Dr Ida Rolf started the Rolfing movement which is to help the body realign with its concept of structural integration of the body. The Rolfing practitioners mainly worked on the myofascia which is the layer that encloses the muscles to realign the body to the ideal position. It is not known whether Dr Rolf had read Travell and Simons' work but they have been instrumental behind resolving muscular pains. Although their concept may seem radically different but there is similarity in their treatment which is to work on the myofascia which is the tissue that surrounds the muscles, to resolve skeletal muscle pain.  

The tape is probably not a cure all solution or the only solution to be used. If however taken into account the works of Janet Travell, David Simons and Ida Rolf, the tapes would certainly be part of the strategy to use when dealing with trigger points. The tape offers mobility during activities and provides a micro lift of the myofascia even when the person is asleep. This should help in the overall treatment of the trigger points. Research normally isolates each treatment method to see if it really works but sometimes the combination of a few methods is needed to resolve the problem. 

I have tried the Nitto tapes myself which is called NTape for 4 continuous day without removing it. It adheres to the skin very well even after shower and running. It was very comfortable and did not irritate my skin. It does not affect or restrict movement. The following is the diary of the days I had the tapes on my leg.
23rd Dec 2015 (Day1): 
I taped myself on the medial gastrocnemius at 5pm. Ran for 30mins on grass 
24th (Day2):
Ran for 30mins on grass
25th (Day3)
Ran 16km on road. 
26th (Day4)
Rest day
27th (Day5)
Ran 11km on road. Removed tape at 10pm

Nitto Denko is a large Japanese multinational with many products over several industries. The NTape does as it claims on its website. The NTape uses their own gel adhesive which sticks well to the skin and yet not cause irritation. I felt much less tightness on my left leg which I taped as compared to my right for which I did not use any tape. It is always my left which normally has more soreness after a run. I have no muscular pain prior to testing the tapes. The adhesion to the skin may not work as well if the skin is wet or for places where there is a lot of hair growth. Cleaning the skin before use is required. The use of Opsite spray may aid the adhesion to the skin where there is hair. Opsite spray is sold in pharmacies.

There are many different brands of kinesiology tapes in the market and the variation in prices could be great. The tapes have different quality. Some may not adhere to the skin well or may even cause irritation to the skin. Try the tapes out before committing to buying in large quantity.

Massaging the trigger point areas will be the first step that I will advise one to take to release the trigger point. Then place the tape around the trigger points to continue to help resolve the trigger point. The tape has to stick for at least a day, comfortable and do not cause any skin irritation. 

I do not normally run 4 days in a week and I did 5 days in total for that week. At my 52years of age, it works great for me. I have passed the tape to my athlete who had a pain on his soleus muscle with a pain level of 4 out of 10 before taping. The pain reduced to 1 out of 10 after 3 days of use. The NTape is certainly a tape that I would recommend to use.


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