Written and Filmed by Dr. Meagan Robichaud, PT, DPT
Kinesiology taping has been around for years in practice but really became more popular when it showed up all over our TV screens during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now, it is not uncommon to see a professional dancer wearing tape in rehearsals. When applied in a meaningful way, kinesiology tape can be incredibly beneficial to a dancer’s performance as well as recovery from an injury.
What is Kinesiology tape?
Kinesiology tape is a flexible adhesive tape that is applied to the skin with stretch. It comes in many different colors that can be used to stand out or hide under a costume. There are many brands of kinesiology tape, but at Magna PT we use both KT tape and Rock Tape for our patients.
How does it work?
Kinesiology tape works in a very unique way compared to other tape methods. Unlike rigid taping which is meant to act as an external support to immobilize a joint and prevent further injury, kinesiology tape alleviates pain and improves lymphatic function by microscopically lifting the skin and providing increased space for fluid movement. This lifting effect from the exterior can cause a wrinkling effect of the tape on the skin. But underneath, this is providing the interstitial space to help reduce inflammation and pressure in the tissues. The tape can be applied in multiple different ways to provide flexible support to prevent injuries, stimulate and improve blood flow to the skin and area of taping, reduce inflammation and even help to re-educate your neuromuscular system following an injury.
Kinesiology tape can be used to reduce and eliminate pain by stimulating the nervous system. Think about it like this. When you have a spot that is painful, what do you do first? You rub that area to try to reduce the pain. The tape basically acts as a constant point of contact or “rubbing” over that area. The mechanism of taping that increases fluid motion under the skin and promotes blood flow can also play a part in reducing pain.
Following an injury, kinesiology tape can be used as a flexible support that does not limit or restrict a dancer’s motion but instead provides feedback and minimal external support in order to prevent further injury. See below for an example on a dancer following an ankle sprain.
Kinesiology taping can be used to facilitate or help a muscle by applying it with strategic stretch that makes the work of a muscle pull less strenuous on the body, therefore decreasing pain and injury. Taping can also be used in the same way to inhibit or shut down an overactive muscle in order to allow strengthening of smaller less active muscle groups.
Kinesiology tape can be used to influence better posture. When applied to the upper back the tape can apply a constant reminder and feedback to bring your shoulders back and stand up straight throughout the day. This technique can tie in with muscle facilitation to affect postural mechanics throughout the body with input and evaluation from a physical therapist.
For ankle stability:
For reducing back pain:
These videos are only meant as examples of many taping techniques that can be utilized on dancers. If you feel you are a good candidate for kinesiology taping, please consult with your physical therapist at Magna Physical Therapy before trying these techniques at home to ensure proper application of the tape.