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Taping – what the studies say?

One of the RehaThink goals is to bring a different view on physiotherapy, bring new and effective therapeutic methods and proven facts.

One of the most common question at the beginning of our courses is: which methods do you use for treating trigger points, relaxing hypertonic muscle and soft tissues and unblocking blocked joints? Usually we get answers – exercising, direct pressure, mobilizations and taping. Is the taping really effective? What does the current evidence say? Does it make sense to use taping in practise? Can we relax trigger points and muscle tone with taping? And what is our opinion?

Taping became famous after the last olympic games in Rio 2016 where a lot of athletes had kinesio taping. Since this time there has been much research done about kinesio taping. Last systematic review which was printed in Journal of physiotherapy says: Current evidence does not support the use of Kinesio Taping in clinical practice. Simply, it is not possible to relax neither hypertonic muscle nor trigger point nor unblock segment.

When we look at anatomy, under the skin there is a fat tissue layer, which is composed of two parts – superficial adipose tissue and deep adipose tissue. Superficial has firm structure, but deep has soft and moveable structure which can move a few centimeters. Between fat and muscle is fascia. When the muscle contracts, deep adipose tissue moves as well, but the motion does not continue to the superficial fat layer, so this one does not move. When we apply tape, it affects just the skin, but can not affect muscle at all. So it does not have any affect neither muscle tone nor trigger point nor joint blockade. Eventually, taping does not have any effect on the musculoskeletal system.

So does it make sense to use taping at all? Where and when we can use it? Yes, it does. But just in specific situations. We can use it for tissues healing support, hematoma resorption support, post traumatic/postoperative swelling resorption support, mimic muscles function support in nervus facialis paresis, and superficial vein drainage support. Can be also used as a placebo.

As a physiotherapist, we should understand techniques which we do and why we do. Not just do something, but understand that principle. Should be able to explain why we do it. We have quite limited time for patient so we should use it as effectively as possible. There are much more effective methods than taping.



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