In recent times has seen how the athletes and people on the street wear strips of colors in some areas of the body. These strips are called neuromuscular bandages or kinesiotape. There has been a real boom in the use of these therapies and many properties have been attributed to them. Let us analyze what it consists of and what it can bring us.
This technique was developed by Dr. Kenzo Kase in Japan in the 1970s. It aims to be an aid in the treatment and recovery of musculoskeletal disorders. The neuromuscular bandage is made with a cotton tape as a tape with a series of specific characteristics of elasticity (elongates 30-40%) and with a low aggressive adhesive. This tape is the one that is going to be applied in the zones of the body to treat.
We must differentiate this technique from the more traditional “taping”. Before the kinesiotape was popularized, tapes were used (and are still used) to limit movements that are to be protected. The most typical example we have in professional basketball players. Put the tape on the ankles limiting the inversion movement of the foot (the movement with which most of the ankle sprains are performed). In this way if the player twists his foot, in a jump for example, the tape will prevent movement and protect the ligaments, thus minimizing the frequency and extent of injuries. Many NBA basketball players will sell their ankles before each training or match to avoid injury.
The kinesiotape, contrary to what we have discussed with traditional taping, does not limit movement. It is applied on or around the muscles. The theory says that the neuromuscular bandage decreases pain and inflammation by improving lymphatic and blood circulation. The technique relieves pressure and irritation of sensitive receptors.
This is the theory, but of the kinesiotape what has been proven scientifically?
Serious studies are not very abundant but there are some conclusions. As for pain, it seems that symptomatic relief has been achieved since the bandage was put on. This relief appears to be effective the first 24 hours and less stable on subsequent days. What has not been proven is its benefit on muscle and joint function. This does not mean that you do not have it; there simply is not enough data to be able to state it.
In their use on the back and neck there are some small studies that suggest that it improves the function of the muscles of the lower back and relieves pain in low back pain. In the cervical spine it helped to decrease the pain and improve the range of mobility of the neck after a cervical sprain or whiplash. By itself these improvements were temporary, greater progress was achieved when they were associated with exercises on the musculature.
If so much benefit is not shown, why is the kinesiotape used so much?
First of all, as with any treatment, you must weigh the risk / benefit. In this sense the application of kinesiotape has no significant side effects. In some people there may be some reaction with redness of the skin probably due to rejection of the glue. Other people may find it annoying with the bandage and will remove it without major problem. In short, it could be said that its use is very safe provided it is done by someone who knows what he is doing and avoid its use on wounds or areas with injuries or diseases that affect the skin.
Being a safe method there are no limitations to its use if it provides benefits and it seems that it does have them, at least to relieve the pain. It also improves the subjective feelings of the patient in many cases. One could speak of a placebo effect, which may be. In my opinion, when we put the kinesiotape on a damaged area we increase the sensitive stimulus of this zone towards our brain. For us to understand we try to put your hand on the knee. Until you read this, the knee was oblivious to your thought and the representation in your brain was limited to the basal. The moment you put your hand on it have increased the stimuli that has received your brain from the knee. In other words you have given greater presence to your knee in the circuits of the brain. This increases what we call proprioception (you can read the post in which I speak of this to understand it better). The brain becomes more aware of what position and situation the knee is in.
In short, it is a safe method that can improve the pain and the sensations of the patient. By itself it will not shorten the healing times and must be accompanied by other treatments for the adequate recovery of the patient. The benefits that add to its low cost and the few problems it gives justify that it has become so popular.