This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to register for a K-taping course in Calgary. The course was taught by Lois Pohlod, she is an sport physiotherapist extraordinaire. In the summer of 2014, she was the chief therapist for Team Canada at the Commonwealth Games, in Scotland. I have met Lois previously on different Sport Physiotherapy Canada courses and worked a couple of the Canada Games with her.
The K Tape is very flexible in one direction, lengthwise, but very stiff if trying to make the tape wider. Handling the tape is a little tricky at first. You only have one or two chances to get the tape on the skin correctly, after that the adhesive will not stick. The adhesive is a acrylic and it is heat activated, so the long the tape stays on, the better it sticks. Taking the tape off right after a tape job is much easier than taking the tape job a day later. In fact, these tape jobs can stay on for 3-5 days! After that length of time, it is best to try and take the tape off in the shower, after the tape is completely soaked through.
K Tape is a relatively new type of tape. It is a very flexible, sticky, thin tape. There are many different brands of this type of tape, Rock Tape, Kinesio Tape and KT Tape to name only a few. I believe there are over 60 brands of this kind of tape. Every brand states that their tape is the best.
I am not even sure what to call this type of tape, if it should be called elastic therapeutic tape or proprioceptive tape.
I took this course for a couple of reasons. One, my curiosity about this type of tape, how does it work, what type of applications is it meant for... Second, could I even use this type of tape on the clients that I regularly treat. And lastly, Jacques Lavergne is a K Tape instructor and he was my roommate at the 2015 Canada Winter Games up in Prince George, BC. Watching him tape some of the athletes with K Tape peaked my curious nature.
I was surprised by all the applications for the K Tape. There are techniques for muscles, ligaments, fascia and lymphatic drainage. So what did we learn on the course? We started off simply just cutting and feeling the stretch of the tape. Muscle techniques you want very little stretch placed on the tape, while with ligament techniques, you want close to maximum stretch on the tape. One piece of advice when trying to tape with any elastic tape, make sure there is no tension on the ends of the piece of tape you are laying down. If you put tension on the ends of the elastic tape, it peels itself up and makes taping a nightmare.
After pulling the tape, we started off with some simple muscle techniques. The neck, upper traps and into the shoulder, supraspinatus and infraspinatus and many other muscles. We then moved onto some ligament techniques. Doing some basic ligament techniques for the knee MCL and LCL, then onto the Achilles, which is classified as a bone to muscle ligament. This could really help people with Achilles tendinopathy! The tape seemed to go on easily and wrinkles/fold overs were minimal. As thin as the tape was, I could feel the support it offered to my muscles. The support seemed minimal at first but the longer the tape was on me, the more I could feel it and that seemed to be the general consensus of the class.
After the taping, I left some of the tape jobs on to see how well the tape held. I was impressed. When I took the fresh tape jobs off, there was minimal pain for me. One of my taping partners, really found that it hurt. I could notice taking tape off at the end of the day, it was much stickier and a little tougher to remove the tape job, but still with minimal pain.
On the second day, we went through, fascial techniques. Those are techniques, that when applied, the tension was somewhere between the low tension end of muscle techniques and the upper end of tension, of the ligament techniques. It was interesting to have a quick lesson on how fascia moves and learn to assess the movement. Then tape in the direction of the least resistance. Cannot wait to try this out with of my running clients with IT band issues! In the final afternoon, we undertook lymphatic drainage. This is basically, helping to remove swelling from an area in the body. For example, a swollen knee or ankle and helping to decrease the swelling. The thought is that K Tape helps to lift the outer layer of skin to open up the capillaries and lymph system to aid in the drainage of swelling. This is also very useful in helping to remove the discolouration from bruising.
Someone gets a bruise that is black and blue, applying K Tape over that bruise in a fan-like pattern. 2-3 days later take the tape off and you will see the white lines through the bruise, where the tape was. The bruising just vanishes, it was pretty cool to see multiple slides of this happening.
I really enjoyed this course, it was the first course that I have taken, not helped to teach, in a while. It was great to meet a bunch of new people on this course and an old classmate of mine from physiotherapy school. Since I am now a K Taping Pro, I am looking forward to taking the K Taping Sport course, either later this year, or in 2016!