Neuromuscular taping: what it is and how it works

Neuromuscular taping, Kinesiotaping, Kinesiological taping etc.; there are so many names for the same thing: the “colored patch”, as it is called by our patients. This definition certainly provides a simplified vision of the reality, but it gives a good idea of it.

Indeed, this special taping is made of coloured elastic cotton and acrylic adhesive, distributed over waves, a characteristic which makes it water-resistant.

These characteristics confer it elasticity almost equal to the skin one.

The tape application involves tensions and methods which vary according to the specific objective, thus creating, together with the body movement, skin folds that stimulate the receptors of the underlying skin layers.

It can be applied via compression and decompression methods.

Three macro-areas of action of the neuromuscular taping can be identified:

  • ARTICULAR/SENSITIVE: the tape can perform a proprioceptive function, that is it protects tendons and ligaments, because it can help to maintain joints in a correct position and it increases the perception of stability on the articular mechanics.
  • MUSCULAR: derma consists of a series of nervous receptors that can communicate with the underlying muscles through external stimuli. Once applied on the skin, these tapes can inhibit an overburdened and contracted muscle that pushes on the pain receptors, or vice versa, stimulate a hypotonic one. In this way, pain gets reduced and motor function progressively reactivates.
  • LYMPHATIC/ VASCULAR: in the oedemas treatment it can reduce pain and facilitate lymph drainage through the skin lifting. It is applied in a way that allows the tape to determine a series of convolutions and skin folds, similar to waves that act on the lymphatic flow as drain pumps, thus favouring the oedema reabsorption. This action results particularly evident in case of large hematomas that can occur, for example, following surgery or a muscular lesion. The fast resolution of a haematic extravasation allows an early reduction of both pain and inflammation with a reduced time of convalescence.

A similar mechanism of action occurs on the most superficial vascular system. This aspect is particularly useful for our Centre because it is associated to the Wound Care Centre.

Indeed, very often the perilesional skin presents itself as hypertrophic, red and painful. Improving vascularisation of these areas means reducing the risk of developing new lesions and it facilitates the healing of the lesions that are present. Team work always wins.

Maddalena Vassura, physiotherapist of the Hyperbaric Centre of Ravenna

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