What Does Tape Do?

Hey Friends! Fall is here! The leaves are changing and falling and the weather and best be described as “grey” this week. A common question I’ve been asked in the clinic over the past few weeks has been “What does tape do?”. I was a HUGE skeptic of tape! How the heck can putting a piece of tape on the skin suddenly make people feel better? Is this some type of new age Band-Aid shit no one told me about in school? Well friends, after taking my first taping course in 2013 I wan’t totally bought in until I took my first RockTape course 2015. Now I use RockTape and RockTape products in the clinic everyday and could talk about how the company has changed my career all day long…BUT…Let’s stick to today’s topic Nick.

There are many different mechanisms and applications that can be used to apply tape and I HIGHLY recommend that you take a course and educate yourself. Check them out here. Whether you’re a parent coaching a soccer team, a personal trainer, or practitioner you will learn something from the course. To keep this brief I’m going to exclusively talk about the most basic way that tape works in it’s application and how I explain it to my patients.

When tape is applied at the end of a treatment session, we’re sending a message to the brain via the skin saying “hey brain! pay attention to me!”. The tape on the skin is bringing more awareness to the area where the tape is applied. Often there is a disconnection between the injured region and the brain and after the tape is applied patients report feeling “stronger, more stable, less pain, more flexible, etc.” . The reason for this is because we decreased the threat level to the nervous system and once we made the nervous system feel safe again with treatment and lock that in with tape and some good quality movement. BOOM the brain rewards us with decreased pain and improved movement patterns.

Awareness is huge! Once you become consciously aware of the compensations that have developed from your pain, we can begin to develop a plan to get you out of them. Remember from my first post that the brain is wired for survival and will do whatever it takes to keep you moving but making things tight, under work, over work, unstable, etc. Tape is a great tool to get yourself out of these destructive patterns. I would recommend getting assessed by someone that specializes in helping people move better. I might know a guy.

Keep in mind that tape also does have mechanical properties and will actually lift the skin and create more space for the fascial layers to glide which you can actually see on diagnostic ultrasound (FYI this is really cool!!!). Tape can also be used to help with swelling from an ankle sprain, bruise from a thigh contusion, remind you when your slumping over at your desk at 2 pm, and much more.

Alright friends that’s all I have for you today! Go get a pumpkin spice latte or something fall related…

Nick Patterson