Functional Taping

low back pain relief with chiropractic care

When one thinks of taping, the thick, white, heavily wrapped ankle brace is what typically comes to mind. In the past, taping was utilized to immobilize, support and restrict, while only being used for short periods of time during sports. Functional taping, however, implements a very different philosophy. Functional Taping or “kinesotaping” is minimalistic in nature, promotes movement and is meant to be worn several days in a row in order to support the body’s natural healing capabilities. Utilized less as a brace and more as a way to boost neuromuscular performance, functional taping has quickly become a staple in the sports therapy world.

At Axis Spine and Sport, our Gilbert AZ and our Tempe AZ chiropractors use a specialized type of elastic adhesive tape, that is hypo-allergenic, made from cotton and nylon fibers, with an acrylic based adhesive that is latex free. Since it is meant to be worn over several days it is water and sweat resistant, which means you can even shower with it on! The tape is made to stretch in one direction, which is an important part of the technology as it allows for a subtle pull on the muscle which provides a mechanical stimulus to promote proper neuromuscular activation. Functional taping has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, increase functional capacity and help to re-train the neuromuscular system to promote increase circulation and healing. The tape provides mild support while allowing for full range of motion and provides a tactile stimulus to the region to improve body awareness.

How does Functional Taping Work?

Functional taping works by gently lifting the skin in the area in which it is applied. This facilitates lymphatic drainage, increased blood flow and oxygen to the muscles. Additionally, it helps to decrease pain by desensitizing the superficial nerves under the skin and reduces strain to the surrounding structures by relieving built up tension caused by poor joint positioning and weak muscular activation. The tape is most commonly applied to the body in “I” shape strips, over a lengthened muscle in a specific stretch and direction to decompress the tissues. The amount of stretch applied determines how much activation will occur in that muscle. For example, following knee surgery, one’s quad may be weak or inhibited so, more tension will be applied in order to stimulate those muscle fibers. However, for someone who sits at a desk all day and requires feedback to their postural muscles less tension may be applied to get the desired effects.

Who benefits from Functional Taping?

Functional taping can be used to treat both sport and non-sport related injuries and is safe for all ages, athletic abilities and most musculoskeletal conditions. The tape helps to create a new “functional normal” by providing consistent feedback over a sustained period of time to a specific muscle or region of the body. Due to its versatility, almost everyone can benefit from functional taping in one form or another.