A couple of days back, I received a request from a wonderful Family Nurse Practitioner in Seattle, Medea Karr (http://medeakarrfnp.com/), to share any tips or recommendations I might have about the use and application of Kinesio Tape (KT). For years now, I’ve had to make use of all kinds of guards, slings and “protective shields” for the eight (oops, no, Nine!) joints that I have to deal with and manage on a daily basis.
Medea mentioned that she has a patient who tends to have her shoulder joint move out of place while sleeping and wanted to know if taping might help. Yes! taping helps me keep my joints in place even at night. Once I put the tape on, it stays fine for about three to four days. It’s not as if it completely erases the chances of injuries during sleep (or in the day!) but it surely provides a decent level of support, as good or even better than some guards. I experience multi-directional instability in both my shoulders and trust me that I know, it can get exceedingly painful and annoying to wake up through the night because your shoulder joint is a little off. So I truly understand.
There are various methods of application, each focusing on a different set of muscles or ligaments, or for a different benefit/relief altogether. Personally, my symptoms are ever changing and so I’ve had to experiment quite a bit before noticing the slight difference each pattern can make. I’ll be sharing some links to videos with specific patterns that have been working for me, along with a few tips to keep in mind while using the tape. I really hope this is of some help!
Please (here goes my little disclaimer), I am not certified in Kinesiology and I know from speaking with my Physiotherapists, that there is a particular art and technique behind using this tape. I would genuinely recommend you seek advice from a Therapist who is certified in Kinesiology and see what pattern would work the best for your condition and requirement. It also depends on the degree to which your joint is off, etc. If the tape isn’t applied in a particular manner, it is only as good as some body art :)
You’ll probably find a lot of brands for the tape out in the market and naturally, some are stronger than the others in terms of tension. You might find that one brand irritates your skin lesser than the other and stuff like that. This is something you’ll have to just experiment and figure out. My personal favourite is the Rock Tape (http://www.rocktape.com/) . A lot of athletes tend to use this brand, possibl because it seems like one of the toughest and most durable. I’ve seen for myself that the adhesive side really sticks onto my body well.
Here are the links to patterns that have been helping me with my shoulder instability, pain due to rotator cuff injuries and also with general posture improvement. I thought these videos were very informative and super easy to follow.
Some tips to keep in mind while using the tape:
- Do not use the tape on any damaged, broken or sensitive areas of the body. It is recommended that you do a mini” sensitive skin test” whereby you put a small piece on a part of your body and watch if your skin has any adverse reaction to it.
- Once you know you’re safe and are ready to use it : Make sure you’ve cleaned the skin properly, removed any oils or lotions that may be on it. I use soap and pat dry the area before application. You could also use rubbing alcohol.
- Remember to always take a rough or an approximate measurement of the area you want to tape up before cutting out the pieces. That way you’re not unnecessarily wasting your tape.
- Make sure to snip off the sharp edges and make them rounded. Sharp edges and upturned corners tend to stick to the clothing and causes the tape to peel off faster.
- Be careful not to touch the adhesive side of the tape too much while handling it. I suggest you roll open the adhesive side as you apply it over the skin instead of peeling off the sticker first.
- While putting on the tape, remember not to stretch the ends of it. Any sort of stretch or pull is usually in the mid section of the tape; never at the starting point or the end (the anchors). We need to leave these two points entirely un-stretched so that they’re able to hold the tape down for us.
- Remember to rub the tape after application – the starting point, the ending point and along the whole structure/pattern. This is to create friction and generate heat so as to activate the adhesive. It ensures that the tape stays on for longer.
- You can shower or bathe as per normal with this tape on. However, try to keep the area as free of soap as possible. For me, if the residue from the soap sticks onto the adhesive side of the tape, I get an allergic reaction on that spot and the bumps and redness takes a very long time to subside. I have to leave that area to rest for a few days before I’m able to use tape on it again.
Other than making sure I have my shoulders taped up on the days they’re feeling loose and dangly and giving me too much issues, I make sure I create a little nest for myself every single night. I’m so sure most of us do this. I use a lot of pillows, cushions and towels when I sleep. They each have a strategic location on my bed and they work together to nest me up as I sleep through the night. I have had to train myself to sleep on my back because any other position is just too painful and seem to exert too much pressure on some of my joints. Sleeping on my back throughout the night is not the most comfortable but it is something I’ve learnt to get used to. I make the most out of whatever soft items that I have, and in the past, it has even been my huge, fluffy teddy bear.