Fitness has evolved over the past 10 years.  Personal trainers have also evolved as the industry has undergone changes.  The public has become more educated about the importance of recreational activities.  Many clients are now venturing outside as the weather gets milder.  Recreational activities such as cycling, running, hiking have historically been fun activities that many fitness clients have enjoyed.  As people have become more interested in fitness-based competitions such as Spartan runs, Tough Mudders, Triathlons and Crossfit, the need for more educated and skilled health and fitness professionals has increased exponentially.

Training and conditioning for these events can take a toll on the body. Some of these participants in these events experience what most athletes experience: Injuries! Injuries in the form of swelling, tendinitis, strains, and sprains will slow down an athlete considerably.  As a health and fitness professional, it is important to educate clients about proper training procedures and conditioning.

Unfortunately, a fitness enthusiast will experience  injuries from over-training or improper conditioning (training form mistakes or inadequate rest).  Serious orthopedic injuries must be referred out to a medical professional (MD, PT, DC etc…) such as soft tissue tears, Intervertebral disk derangements, and bone fractures.  Minor injuries, including after training soreness, grade 1 muscle strains, and postural weakness (scapular or paraspinal weakness) can be managed by a competent health and fitness professional.

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Kinesiology tape

Kinesiology tape is a modality that can be learned and applied by fitness professionals working with athletic or fitness clients

For over 20 years kinesiology tape has been used by many different practitioners including physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and athletic trainers.  Due to research, emergence of new kinesiology tape companies, and popularity,kinesiology tape has gravitated into the fitness community.  Training to become a certified kinesiology taping practitioner has been limited to only those who are licensed health care practitioners.

The emergence of new kinesiology tape companies have now been made accessible to certified personal trainers.  This opportunity has opened up a new avenue for certified personal trainers to become more effective with their clients.  Kinesiology tape can be used to help control pain, inflammation/minimal swelling,  and postural support of weak muscles.  Research has shown that wearing kinesiology tape in sub-acute injured extremities and in conjunction with therapeutic exercise will decrease pain in less than a week1.

Kinesiology tape is applied to the skin.  The skin has many sensory receptors that can detect pain(nociceptors), touch, and pressure(mechanoreceptors).  These sensations are sent as afferent signals to the brain and processed as the type of sensations they are.  The brain then sends a signal known as efferent signals back to the peripheral (i.e. extremities or trunk) and the body reacts.   The skin has an intimate relationship with fascia. The superficial layer of fascia is adherently connected to the skin.  There are many mechanoreceptors in this layer of fascia.  Fascia is connective tissue that encapsulates muscles, tendons, ligaments and periosteum.   It is in this intimate connection between muscles and tendons that fascia initiates movement.

Kinesiology tape acts upon the mechanoreceptors in the skin and superficial layers of fascia to facilitate weak muscles, such as muscles in the back4.  When the body experiences edema as a result from an injury such as a contusion or an overuse injury;  fluid will abnormally pool in the area around the injury.  The reason for this is because the lymphatic drainage from the body has become overwhelmed by the injury and rendered ineffective5.

In order to allow proper fluid dynamics to continue, the channels within the lymphatic system need to be opened to allow the edema to flow out of the injured area and back to central circulation5.  Research into edema control via kinesiology tape has shown a dramatic decrease in circumference in only about 4-5 days of its application2.

When Kinesiology tape is applied to the skin, it produces a pulling force to the skin.  This will stimulate the receptors in the skin to decrease pain perception, increase kinesthetic input to areas of weak musculature (i.e. postural muscles) and open the interstitial spaces in the skin, allowing trapped edema to flow out of the area it is pooled in3, 2.

The kinesiology tape makes its effect on the superficial layers of fascia which will affect the muscles being targeted.   Kinesiology tape is a cotton and acrylic based material.  The adhesive is heat activated and has a wave like application.  The reason for this design is that it will successful adhere to skin.  The waves in the adhesive side was made to mimic with the ridges found in the skin.  The epidermis of the skin is made up of similar ridges and wave-like pattern. This pattern is the reason why the adhesive works well on human skin.

Kinesiology tape is non-latex and has a 98% hypoallergenic reaction.  If you have sensitive skin or have skin disorders, it is best to check with your healthcare provider before using kinesiology tape.   The health and fitness professional should have a strong background in human anatomy and kinesiology.

Kinesiology tape companies such as Rocktape and KT tape offer taping courses for fitness professionals that have a desire to learn how to Kinesiotape for their clients.  Practice and anatomical knowledge using kinesiology tape is the best way to become an effective taping practitioner.  A Kinesiology tape application usually lasts between 3-5 days.  Rocktape tends to be more water resistant(i.e. sweat, use in a pool or the ocean) and durable in extreme conditions such as Crossfit, Triathlons, and Tactical athletic performance versus other kinesiology tapes used by the author.

The noted contraindications for the use of kinesiology tape includes: open or draining wounds, malignant sites, active cellulitis,  skin infections, and active deep vein thrombosis

In conclusion the use of kinesiology tape by the health and fitness professional will open doors and increase professional confidence in yourself.  A certified kinesiology tape professional can help clients with minor strains/sprains, swelling, and pain.  The health and fitness professional can use kinesiology tape during training such as performance enhancement and corrective exercise.  The kinesiology tape can help facilitate weak muscles and inhibit facial areas that have become tight. The use of kinesiology tape in your training session can enhance function and increase performance in your clients and increase your skills as a health and fitness professional.

Kinesiology tape

Image by Bandagenbilliger

References:

1.  Balki S, Elden H, Ozturk H, Keklik SS, Simsek HH. Does Kinesiotaping in addition to exercise therapy improve the outcome in subacromial impingement? A randomized, double-blind controlled clinical trial. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2013; 47(2): 104-110

2. Tsai HJ., Hung CH., Yang JL.,Huang CS., Tsauo JY. Could Kinesio tape replace the bandage in decongestive lymphatic therapy for breast-cancer-related lymphedema? A pilot study. Support Care Cancer. 2009;17:1353–1360

3. Stockheimer K., Kase K. Lymphoedema and Chronic Swelling. 1st ed . Kinesio USA, LLC; 2006.

4. Albahel F.,Hafez AR., Zakaria AR., Al-Ahaideb A., Burgadda S.,Melam GR. Kinesio-Taping for the Treatment of Mechanical Low Back Pain. World Applied Sciences Journal . 2013;22 (1): 78-84, 2013

5. WebMD. Swelling. Topic Overview. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/swelling-topic-overview. updated April 2012. Accessed on 7/1/14.

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