So many of us have seen and heard of Functional Tape. Maybe you are wondering whether this is something worth putting in your practice. Or maybe, you have kind of implemented it into your practice, but you don’t know exactly why you are doing it or why it helps. You didn’t want to miss the Functional Tape Craze, so you implemented it, unsure of the actual effects.
Let’s look at the exact benefits, and the theories explaining why Functional Tape works. Kenzo Kase, the inventor of Kinesio Tape, explains the benefits of the utilization of Functional Tape below.
5 Benefits of Functional Tape (Kase, 1996)
1) To provide a positional stimulus through the skin– this means that the tape actually helps facilitate proprioception of compromised tissues. For patients lacking proprioception and demonstrating dysfunction, you can help them achieve local improvement of dysfunction.
2) To align fascial tissues– by aligning fascial tissues, it assists in the correction of chronic postural distortion patterns. At the American Posture Institute we utilize Functional Tape for the specific purpose of posture habit re-education to re-educate poor postural habits and improve postural design.
3) Improved circulation by lifting fascia and soft tissue above area of pain or inflammation– this is one of the reasons that Functional Tape is so effective in therapeutic relief of chronically injured or compromised tissues. By lifting the tissue layer of the skin, there is increased circulation to the compromised tissue to initiate the healing process.
4) To provide sensory stimulation to assist or limit motion– this provides validation for the utilization of Functional Tape for performance benefits. The tape assists in achieving proper motion and has been shown to improve muscle explosive power for high-level athletes. Depending upon the amount of tape tension utilized during the application, the tape can facilitate muscle activation or inhibit muscle spasm.
5) To assist in the removal of edema by directing exudates toward lymph ducts– this is highly beneficial for patients who present with post-surgical lymphedema, the tape assists in drainage. This type of taping protocol is also beneficial for patients who present with acute edema and bruising.
Since Kase (1996) released his research showing the benefits of Functional Tape, many other researchers have also studied the effects. According to Huang et al. (2011) the beneficial effects of Functional Tape include physical corrections, fascia relaxation, space recuperation, ligament and tendon support, movement rectification and lymphatic fluid circulation.
2 Theories Explaining Why Functional Tape is Effective:
The first of the two main theories proposed to explain the reported functional effects of Functional Tape, refers to the lifting effect allowing increased blood and lymph circulation. Increased blood and lymphatic fluid circulation in the taped area due to a lifting effect creates a wider space between the skin and the muscle and interstitial space (Halseth et al., 2004). The improved circulation initiates the healing effect necessary to improve chronically compromised tissues.
An additional theory is that Functional Tape may apply pressure or continual stretching of the skin within the taped area. This external activation of cutaneous mechanoreceptors activates modulatory mechanisms within the central nervous system demonstrated as an increase in muscle excitability and proprioception (Gomez-Soriano, 2013). By increasing muscle excitation and proprioception, there is evidence supporting the utilization of Functional Tape for performance-based objectives, not just therapeutic.
Have you thought of implementing Functional Tape into your practice? By adding this additional modality to your clinical tool belt, you are providing patients with further healing effects that they may not have achieved any other way. Or perhaps you can simulate the same effects, but it takes up more of your time as a busy practitioner.
Functional Tape is not just a craze, it is a system of functional correction for your patients.