Pregnancy massage is a growing specialty—and kinesiology taping techniques for pregnant clients offer an additional tool for massage therapists serving this special clientele.
As the body changes size and body structure, bones and tissue absorb new lengths and positions. As these changes occur, so do compensatory movement patterns, which may cause pain and discomfort.
As pregnant women incur pain and discomfort from their newly found tissue lengths and postural strain, proper taping procedures can alleviate these potential culprits of disability.
Painful segments, such as the inguinal region, lower back, cervio-thoracic junction and pubic symphysis all can be addressed with changes in body cueing and positional related issues via kinesiology tape.
These taping treatments may result in a positive client outcome on associated pain syndromes.
Increase Movement Capacity
Later stages of pregnancy seem to create a more sedentary lifestyle. With kinesiology tape applications, it is the goal to establish a more preferred static body posture, thus creating a less painful body position. These changes may increase the body’s movement capacity and encourage better movement patterns and a more active lifestyle.
Adding kinesiology tape as an adjunct treatment after massage can assist in support and positional cueing of the skin. We now know that taping a muscle with kinesiology tape is a bit far-fetched.
When applying tape on skin, the first barrier and organ stimulated is the skin. Tape on skin can tap into the body’s neurosensory output. Once tape is applied, the skin will recognize it and make changes to the neurological system.
These changes will assist in down- or up-regulation of its fascial tone based on the tape’s position.
There is limited research to suggest why pain occurs with some pregnant women. According to an article in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, low-back pain in pregnant women accounts for nearly half, with 25 percent of them having serious pain and disability.
Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain ranges from 4 percent to 76.4 percent, depending on the definition used, according to Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain: an update, published in 2011 in BMC Medicine. As we let research guide our clinical decision-making, we also should take into account how our client is feeling, both mentally and physically.
Although most of us can assume pain is from increased weight gain, balance (proprioceptive changes) and movement compensation, it is important to understand how to treat for these changes.
As massage therapy is important for pain mitigation and overall well being of your client, we ought to better treat our clients past the massage table.
Meaning, providing support for your client via tape, increasing its neurosensory cueing and ability to freely move without compressive garments may lead to a more active, healthier lifestyle of late-stage pregnancy.
A Loss for Answers
Anecdotally, pregnant women have frequently been at a loss when looking for answers in respect to suggested pain associated with their growing abdomens.
Typical recommendations are multiple. Suggestions may include strapping, bracing, compressive garments and ergonomic pillows, although client compliance may be low due to comfort and cost issues.
Some health care practitioners have attempted taping methods similar to what we see on our athletic population, using traditional, rigid athletic tape.
Unfortunately, the non-elastic qualities of rigid tape often result in skin irritation. In addition, taping with conventional athletic tape typically will only last a day at best, which does not result in mitigation of pain and symptomatology.
It is clear that this population is desperately seeking a comfortable, cost-effective, skin-sparing, postural-correction system that will provide pain relief for multiple days and nights.
Benefits of Kinesiology Taping
Utilizing the concept of taping movement, not muscles, kinesiology tape is applied not to individual muscle groups, but instead along fascial vector lines where force transmission occurs across the body to aid in a variety of aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
Proper taping methods may alleviate neck postural stress, lower back pain, sacroiliac pain and possibly, most importantly, the pain that results from the additional weight and postural shift that occurs with pregnancy.
Within the past decade, the fascial system has been revisited by such experts as Thomas Myers; Luigi Stecco, P.T., and Carla Stecco, M.D.; Robert Schleip, Ph.D.; and Gil Hedley, Ph.D. Schleip, a German fascial researcher and Rolfing practitioner, coined the phrase, “fascia is the Cinderella tissue of the body.”
In other words, fascia has long been ignored—yet itacts on every part of the body, acting as a body stocking that is now well-known to be highly innervated and vascularized.
Schleip, along with his colleagues, systematically dissected out tissue in an attempt to expose underlying muscle-and-organ tissue; and in doing so, developed generations of tissue-specific practitioners and techniques.
This “Cinderella tissue” is now well-established as an important three-dimensional structure that aids in activation and support of the skeletal system, in addition to whole-body movement.
By taping these fascial continuities, it became apparent that a greater effect was experienced, potentially by improving communication, proprioceptively, along these kinetic chains. But the question still remains: How can tape on skin affect the fascial system?
Hedley, a renowned fascial anatomist, stated, “the skin is the skin of the superficial fascial layer.” When you distort one, others are affected as well.
With respect to taping, these fascial innovators are stating that stimulation of the skin enhances fascial proprioception. The fascial system encompasses all, from skin to core, hooking tissues together through what the fascial community likes to call the neuromyofascial web.
Body of Evidence
A growing body of evidence has shown that the fascial system is 10 times more proprioceptive-rich in sensory function, providing the brain with augmented mechano-regulation (kinesthetic awareness).
If this is true, kinesiology tape applied to the skin can create a shearing effect to the underlying subdermal/superficial fascia layer, resulting in a stimulatory effect on a greater amount of sensory receptors that enhance body kinesthesia, and in turn, improve body postural positioning.
Kinesiology tape as an adjunct treatment post-massage can be an effective method for pain mitigation and increasing postural awareness without the compressive effects of other garments.
We conclude that enhancing postural strain along myofascial lines via tape will ultimately create a better position and increase movement capacity for a healthier lifestyle in pregnancy.
About the Author
Ethan M. Kreiswirth, Ph.D., A.T.C., is the program director for the master of science in health science program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah. He is also a master instructor for RockTape Inc. Steven Capobianco, D.C., D.A.C.R.B., C.C.S.P., runs a private sports practice in Denver, Colorado. He is a self-described “fascial geek,” and adopted the model in the Functional Movement Techniques of Taping that he has developed along with RockTape Inc.
The Pregnancy Method introduced by RockTape Inc. provides easily worn, long-lasting custom support pregnant women need. For more information on the Pregnancy Method or other movement taping systems, visit rocktape.com.
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