Functional taping, a form of therapeutic and performance enhancing tape, has gained popularity in recent years among patients and healthcare providers. One of the primary reasons for increased awareness of functional taping is that many famous athletes utilize the tape, and spectators have taken notice of the neon colored tapes in non-traditional patterns on athlete’s bodies.
Recent movements in healthcare and exercise protocols include a popular mindset shift from “reactive care” to “functional care.” From functional movements, functional patterns, functional training, and functional exercise protocols, improving “Function” is the way to go. The utilization of Functional tape fittingly matches this paradigm.
Restrictive taping has been widely used in the field of rehabilitation for many years as both a means of treatment and prevention of sports-related injuries. The essential function of rigid tape is to provide support during movement. The most commonly used restrictive tape applications are done with non-stretch tape with the rationale of providing protection and support to a joint or a muscle (Thelen et al., 2008).
Kinesio tape, invented by Kenzo Kase in 1996, is a new application of adhesive taping. It is a thin and elastic tape, which has the capability of being stretched up to 120-140% of its original length, making it quite elastic and resulting in less mechanism constraints, when compared with traditional tape. Kinesio Tape has gained its popularity on the premise of improved function.
While improving function, the tape is also effective for postural correction when utilized as an ancillary component of a complete posture correction protocol. At the American Posture Institute, we encourage Posture Experts to use a three-component model to achieve complete postural correction. This model includes spinal alignment, posture rehabilitation, and posture habit re-education as a 360- degree approach to the correction of postural distortion patterns.
Multiple different research studies have demonstrated that Functional Taping is an effective postural correction strategy, immediately effective in making postural changes with common postural distortion patterns. Utilizing Functional Taping for structural correction helps patients therapeutically, and assists in the process of posture habit re-education to create habits that support structural changes.
In the previous blog you met Johnny. Johnny was a dedicated patient who still felt neck pain after 9 weeks of postural correction care. Although his forward head posture and anterior shoulder displacement was improving with postural correction care, he felt like he had “a ton of bricks on his head.” This is how he described the pain in his neck and across his shoulders that he was experiencing at work.
Based upon Johnny’s clinical presentation, he started utilizing Posture Tape in addition to his postural correction treatment plan. When he did a re-evaluation 3 weeks later, Johnny demonstrated objective correction in his postural distortion patterns, and reported a decrease in pain on the VAS scale from 7 out of 10 to 1.
How did Johnny obtain these results? Let’s look at the research.
Yoo (2013) demonstrated that the utilization of Functional Tape was effective in the reduction of forward head posture. In the study that Yoo (2013) performed, he concluded that the forward head posture angle significantly decreased for participants during computer work with neck retraction tape compared to workers who did not utilize tape. The taping tension by the neck retraction tape provided a mechanical effect that prevented forward head posture.
Neck pain is a common consequence of forward head posture. It has been reported that the lifetime and point prevalence of neck pain are almost as high as those of low back pain. A systematic review of the literature has indicated that the 1-year prevalence of neck pain ranges from 16.7% to 75.1% (Fejer et al., 2006). Additionally, mechanical neck pain results in substantial disability and costs
In a study conducted by Saavedra-Hernandez, et al. (2012), it was concluded that Functional Taping and cervical thrust manipulation were both effective treatment protocols in decreasing neck pain and disability in individuals presenting with mechanical neck pain.
One possible mechanism by which Functional Tape induced these changes may be related to the neural feedback provided to the patients, which can facilitate their ability to move the cervical spine with a reduced mechanical irritation on the soft tissues. In addition, the tape might have created tension in soft tissue structures that provide afferent stimuli, facilitating a pain-inhibitory mechanism and thereby reducing the pain levels of the patients (Saavedra-Hernandez, et al., 2012).
Functional Taping is a tool that every Posture Expert should have in their tool belt. This simple strategy can help your chronic neck pain patients and improve their patient satisfaction.