From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Medical Massage: Hands-On Therapies for Oncology Patients,” by Adrienne F. Asta and Jeff Mann, in the July 2010 issue. Article summary: Massage therapy used to be contraindicated for cancer patients; however, as the field of massage matures and the knowledge base expands, this notion has changed. The American Cancer Society has identified massage therapy as an important complementary therapy for cancer patients, for its relaxation and pain-relieving benefits, and massage is increasingly offered to patients in oncology centers around the nation and world.

by Renee Romero R.N., L.M.T., C.L.T.-L.A.N.A.

“Is there medicine in this tape?”

“Wow, I can’t believe the difference.”

“The pain has eased!”

Those are the comments I most frequently get after applying the Kinesio Taping Method to my clients who are in pain. As a massage therapist and certified lymphedema therapist, I treat many clients with pain or who have edema. Kinesio Tex® Tape has been a great adjunct to my therapy by continuing the process of the massage long after my hands are off the client. 

Kinesio Tex® Tape is a latex-free elastic tape that has unique properties, but no medicine. The tape is designed to allow for a longitudinal stretch of 55 to 60 percent of its resting length, which approximates the elastic qualities of the skin. The thickness of the tape is approximately the same as the epidermis of the skin. The wavy pattern in the tape allows it to lift the skin, thereby stretching the fascia and opening up the superficial lymph vessels. 

The exact mechanism of why the tape works is still unknown, but studies are underway (through KinesioTaping Association) to identify what factors make the tape so effective.

Depending on how much the tape is stretched and how it is laid on the skin, the tape will provide a directional pull to ease muscle spasm and correct muscle function. The muscle or tissues are placed in a “stretch position,” and with the stretch capabilities of the tape, the skin is lifted. Convolutions, or wrinkling, will be seen in the tape. The lifting allows for any edema to be directed towards the superficial lymphatic pathways and creates space corrections, which in turn eases pain.

The tape remains in place for three to four days. It is nonrestrictive, allowing for full range of motion. The tape is water resistant, so the person can shower and go about their activities without being aware of the tape. Conditions that seem to respond well to the Kinesio Taping Method include:

  • Shoulder injuries, rotator cuff impingement or tendonitis
  • Low-back strain
  • Cervical spondylitis
  • Epicondylitis of the elbow
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hamstring strain
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Knee injuries
  • Edema, lymphedema
  • Athletic injuries

There are many other conditions in which the Kinesio Taping Method can be used, and the tape is safe to use on children and babies.

There are different taping techniques for muscle inhibition, facilitation, scar mobilization and to improve lymphatic flow. That is why it is important to receive proper training from a recognized program to learn how to apply the tape before incorporating this technique into your practice. Once trained, you will realize how the Kinesio Taping Method will save your hands, augment your practice and have your clients asking you, “Is this tape magic? “

Renee Romero, R.N., L.M.T., C.L.T.-LANA is a registered nurse, massage therapist and certified lymphedema therapist in Florida. She is the director of the Lymphedema Institute of America Inc. in Miami, Florida, and actively treats patients with edema and lymphedema. She is a consultant for Bandages Plus Inc. (www.bandagesplus.com) and teaches advanced bandaging classes as well as courses in lymphedema management. For more information, visit www.therapytaping.com.

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