Have you ever had to just “’tape it up and go”? Whether you were an athlete trying to finish a competition or a military member simply continuing the mission, sometimes there is no choice, you have to just suck it up and move on.
Kinesiology tape has been on the market since the 1980’s, invented by Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine Kenzo Kase in Japan. Kinesiology Tape started to gain attention after international recent events like the Olympics, CrossFit Games, and use by professional athletes all over the world. So I figured if these athletes are seeing pain relief and success with the tape, I could at least try it.
David Fox of Combat Ready Tape (www.combatreadytape.com) gave a demonstration I attended on the use of Kinesiology Tape that he has successfully branded specifically for the tactical professional. The Combat Ready Tape brand has pre-cut tape packaged in a cool MRE looking zip-lock pouch that is super thin and fits in a pocket or back pack, Combat Ready Tape at least makes the kinesiology tape look cool to the Tactical Athlete. The Combat Ready Tape has 5 packages that specifically target certain parts of the body with reading material demonstrating application making it “soldier proof."
|Packages||Body Parts Covered for Taping|
|Alpha||Knee, upper back, hamstring, groin, wrist, elbow|
|Bravo||Lower back, neck, hips, ribs|
|Charlie||Ankle, plantar faciitis, calf, shin splints|
|Delta||Shoulders (left / right)|
|Echo||Edema, bruising, swelling – post surgery / rehab / injury|
I recently had my back taped prior to a 4 mile run, 4 mile ruck, and 1 mile swim – what we call the Special Ops Triathlon. I had no back pain during or after the race and I typically do with this event. The tape is still on my back even after three more days of swimming workouts of 1500-2000 meters.
For the skeptics, and I was one of them: Many people say that the “pain relief” is purely psychological. The term “snake oil” has even been used with the use of kinesiology tape in treatment of injuries / post- surgery rehab, etc. Most of the skepticism comes from early claims and increases strength / speed, pain relief, etc... Also pain relief scales use a highly subjective grading scale by the applicant to rank their pain. It is tough to make a scientific observation on how someone perceives their individual pain.
How Does It Work? The tape lifts the skin and innervates nerve endings reducing the pain perception of the muscle underneath. Blood is able to flow through the area quicker speeding healing from post-surgery rehab as well as delaying onset muscle fatigue / muscle soreness. (from Combat Ready Tape site)
The following section is statistical, scientific, and anecdotal evidence to the efficacy of kinesiology tape. Decide for yourself.
The Fort Leavenworth Medical Clinic of the Army also recently did a nine month test on 1,600 physical therapy patients as saw the following results:
60 percent average perceived pain reduction by the 1600 people taped after muscle-skeletal injury.
Some specifics of the Army injuries / pain reduction:
150 ankle injuries – 60 percent pain reduction 272 back injuries – 57 percent pain reduction 206 foot /calf injuries – 80 percent pain reduction 423 knee injuries – 67 percent pain reduction 426 shoulder injuries – 43 percent pain reduction
Pain reduction study: Patients with acute WAD receiving an application of Kinesio Taping, applied with proper tension, exhibited statistically significant improvements immediately following application of the Kinesio Tape and at a 24-hour follow-up. However, the improvements in pain and cervical range of motion were small and may not be clinically meaningful.
Euro Pub Med RESULTS: An examination performed 24 hours after the placement of the Kinesio Tape revealed significantly increased recruitment of the muscle's motor units, as expressed by peak torque. An examination performed after 72 hours of kinesio taping showed a statistically significant increase in bioelectrical activity of the muscle. However, this was lower than the effect at 24 hours. In the group where the tapes were removed after 24 hours, high torque was still maintained.
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: This study measured non-taped vs. taped athletes for increases in strength. This is not the use of the tape by athletic trainers. Historical claims of strength increases were debunked by this study.
Anecdotal Evidence: A Marine combatives instructor requested his Level 1 and Level 2 Combatives Class get taped as normally there is a 25-30 percent dropout rate due to injury. The next class had students with nagging injuries taped during the instruction and had a 100 percent graduation rate.
"I have used it for a pulled Achilles. It seemed to work, but I am not sure why it worked. The adhesive is very good. It always stayed on during swims." – Andrew
"I was skeptical at first, but after trying KT tape on my foot for plantar fasciitis I quickly lost all doubts. The added support got me back up on my feet and running again instantly." – Oliver
"In my experience, using all the brands that are out there, I have found KT tape… sucks." - Roberto
From an Athletic Trainer who works in a clinic and in a high school: "The biggest thing I notice is the tape only stays on and has any effect if it is put on at least an hour before activity. Expecting some high school athletes to pre-plan and take responsibility for themselves is often a losing battle. However, in the clinical setting as well as with working on Crossfit athletes, I have had great results with about a 10 percent occurrence of negative reactions (itching / pain from the tape and/or its adhesive). I've also used it on one individual to with Tourette's to reduce pain from physical tics as well as reduce the occurrence of tics."
Fire Fighter of the First Twenty: "I know some firefighters who used it to help with hamstring injuries at the Firefighter Combat Challenge and they had great success."
From interviews, it seems kinesiology tape has its believers and its non-believers, though I will say I have found more people who saw benefits than those who did not. Who knows? Seems to work for me this first time I used it. I am willing to give it another try.
If any of the readers have stories about the use of kinesiology tape, I would be interested in seeing them posted in the comments section.
He will focus his posts at Kit Up! on tactical fitness gear used by active duty and veterans who still like to train hard but stay outfitted in their favorite or latest developed fitness gear. Smith hopes to open the discussion to what works best for individuals within the Kit Up! community and will educate us all on what is available on the market for our folks who want to stay tactically fit.
If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the 400+ articles in the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your tactical fitness related comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.