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Strategic healing
Taping technique activates recovery process

BY JOANN PETASCHNICK

 

Maybe youíve wondered about that brightly colored tape youíve seen adorning the bodies of professional athletes like Serena Williams, Lance Armstrong and David Beckham. It isnít a new type of tattoo, itís Kinesio Tape, strategically placed on their bodies to help reduce pain and improve the healing of injuries. Developed by a chiropractor, Kinesio Tape is thin woven elastic color-coded tape that is used on joints and muscles where support and stability is needed.

Kinesio Tape isnít new, but its popularity has grown in recent years. "This is different than other types of athletic tape. It mimics the qualities of actual skin," according to Jennifer Bultman, a physical therapist with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. Rather than strapping down a muscle ó like taping an ankle ó the tape stretches to allow free movement and letís the bodyís own muscular system heal itself. "The Kinesio Tape encourages muscles to function as they would if they didnít need the tape. If your sore muscles are supported and allowed to heal, you should not be in as much pain," Bultman says.

Athletes are not the only ones benefitting from Kinesio Tape. "We use it on patients with arthritis, shoulder pain, swelling, chronic pain, and a lot of other conditions. Weíre seeing some good results," Bultman says. Cheryl Ward of Milwaukee is one of the success stories. "I had knee replacement surgery on June 14. When I started physical therapy, I was still having quite a bit of pain, and I was walking with a cane. After Jennifer put the tape on my knee, I was taking fewer pain pills and I didnít feel like I needed to use the cane any longer," Ward says.

Success depends on proper evaluation of the patientís condition and proper application of the Kinesio Tape. The tape is water resistant and an application usually lasts from three to five days before the elastic properties diminish and it must be reapplied. "You can do it yourself, but to get the correct results, you need to be trained by a professional," Bultman says.

Ward is happy with the benefits she has seen. "I was surprised that something like this tape could make any difference, but Iím just amazed at how well it works," she says.