Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tale of the Tape-Kinesio tape-NYC Certified Kinesio taper

Tale of the Tape

Taping is all the rage on the pro tours. Can it help you too?

You see tape everywhere, on just about every body part, in professional tennis these days. And for good reason: It can prevent injury, support muscles, realign a joint, and relieve pressure on a blister. Tape can even help in the healing process after surgery. But different tapes serve different purposes. According to Kathleen Stroia, P.T., A.T.C., who oversees all medical and health services for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, players have always used tape, but today they have more options than ever before. “There have been a lot of technical advancements in our field in recent years,” she says. One of those advancements is Kinesio tape.

If you see a black stripe running along a shin, or a strip of pink on an abdomen, you’re seeing Kinesio in action. Created by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase, this thin, flexible tape that comes in assorted colors has been used in tennis for a decade. It has become popular in all sports: Lance Armstrong’s team has worn Kinesio during the Tour de France, and beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh won gold wearing it on her shoulder in Beijing. The tape stays on for about three days and can withstand sweat and showers. The makers of Kinesio claim it promotes blood flow and healing when laid on stretched skin. “It’s actually a therapy,” Stroia says. “Whereas conventional tapes are used for support or prevention, Kinesio is woven in a way that when it’s applied, it can stimulate or inhibit muscles, decrease inflammation or scarring after surgery, [support strained muscles], and promote healing.” Though there have been few studies on Kinesio, players laud its powers. “I feel it more when I’m sleeping with it on,” says Robby Ginepri, who uses Kinesio to relieve occasional soreness or tendinitis. “The next morning I feel like my shoulder, or wherever I have [the tape], feels more rested.”

Kinesio isn’t the only tape or taping method the pros use. Physiotherapists also employ conventional and McConnell techniques, among others. Conventional tapings involve wrapping an area with a rigid white cotton tape to support a joint or take pressure off a muscle. Ankle wraps are the most common conventional tapings for the men, says ATP trainer Clay Sniteman, P.T., A.T.C. (He tapes eight to 12 players’ ankles in an average 32-player draw, and more at hard-court events.) The McConnell method, named after Australian physiotherapist Jenny McConnell, uses stiff brown and white tapes to realign joints, usually knees and shoulders.

On the women’s tour, physiotherapists have developed taping methods for injuries specific to tennis, such as a triangular fibrocartilage complex tear. This wrist ailment, which occurs in players with two-handed backhands, develops when the nondominant hand goes into a hyperextended position. To prevent further damage, trainers tape the wrist to limit its range of motion and redirect it so that proper positioning is restored.

Stroia and Sniteman say it’s OK for recreational players to tape an injury themselves, depending on its type, extent, and location. The McConnell method can be used for a knee injury. Kinesio can be applied in reachable areas of the body, like the knee, hip, or abdomen. But Sniteman says rec players should avoid taping their own ankles: “You could be putting your ankle in a bad position.”

Before doing anything with tape, consult a sports medicine professional, such as an orthopedic surgeon, sports physical therapist, or athletic trainer, who can assess the injury and teach proper application. If you want to forgo tape and try a brace instead, consult a professional to make sure you choose one that fits correctly.
Dr. Steven Shoshany is a Certified Kinesio taper in NYC

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