What is Therapeutic Tape?

Therapeutic tape is a non-elastic latex product used by therapists for the treatment of neuromuscular conditions. Japanese physician, Dr. Kenzo Kase developed the treatment method in the 1970s. Therapists believe that the treatments tape slightly correct circulation and mechanical function and that the taping process aids in injury prevention and helps current injuries to heal. Manufacturers design the tape for general use or for specific areas of the body.

Through his research in kinesiology, the study of body movement, Dr. Kase found that by applying elastic tape to the origin and insertion of affected muscle sites, movement improved while pain and inflammation decreased. He believed that therapeutic treatments inhibit the response to pain because the sensation caused by taping keeps neurons from sending signals to the brain. He also claims that the tape microscopically lifts the skin, offering space for swollen tissues and improving blood and lymphatic drainage and circulation, reducing inflammation and swelling.

Using therapeutic tape, therapists often place individual strips along X muscle paths or Y-shaped patterns. The configurations used in the different types of therapeutic tape treatments count in the hundreds. Therapists use the technique for acute and chronic injuries and during rehabilitation exercise. Since treatment does not inhibit or curb physical movement, patients usually wear continuous tape for two to five days, regardless of physical activity or exposure to moisture.

Before applying the therapeutic tape, therapists perform a thorough physical and verbal assessment of the patient. Physical examination reveals the extent of the damage and the type of treatment required. The verbal evaluation provides vital information about how the injury occurred and whether the underlying conditions caused the event. The goal of therapeutic taping is to reprogram the neuromuscular system so that it returns to normal function.

Ribbon manufacturers generally offer courses for therapists interested in learning about therapeutic taping methods. The Kinesio Taping International Association is the only training and certification institute in the method. The organization has branches around the world and offers courses on three levels.

The tape is generally made up of about 97% cotton and 3% nylon. Manufacturers produce different types of tape, however, which vary in width and length. Individuals can purchase the tape in continuous rolls or in rolls with precut, serrated strips. Some packages contain pre-configured designs. There is also a special type of tape, with a mild adhesive, for fragile or sensitive skin.

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