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Olympic Techniques: Cupping and Kinesio Taping
o Over half way through the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and we've already seen its share of victories, heart-break, controversy, injuries and strange therapy techniques. You may have noticed the colourful web-like tape many athletes are wearing over their muscles and joints. This is called Kinesiology Tape, Kinesio Tape or KT-Tape. The makers and proponents of this tape will vouch for its use in most if not all types of injuries. Kinesio Tape is a tape that stretches to over ~150% its resting length along the length of the tape but does not stretch across the tape. You may be wondering, 'Wow! This stuff seems great! If it works for the Olympic athletes it will for sure work for my rotator cuff injury!' The purpose of Kinesio Tape is to lift off the layer of skin and connect tissue below to allow improved blood flow and keep the underlying tissue unrestricted. Despite all the Olympic and professional athletes using this tape, there is a lack of solid research to support its' proposed purpose. Although I am not sure the tape works exactly as stated I do believe this tape does hold therapeutic benefit and deserves a spot in the physiotherapy toolbox. I use this tape in a variety of ways from muscular support, to joint stabilization to aiding the musculoskeletal system as it moves. For certain injuries I enjoy this tape versus a standard white athletic tape as it allows for greater freedom of movement but still provides some stability. Just like other tapes, machines, and modalities Kinesio Tape should be put to use with a grain of salt and not looked at as if it is the holy grail of treatment techniques. It is another tool that can be used to facilitate your rehabilitation. o In the past several Summer Olympics the swimming events have been a popular event to tune into especially with Michael Phelps competing to be the most decorated Olympian in history. You may have noticed this year that he had several round bruise-like spots around his shoulders and back. These are from a therapy technique called Cupping. This is a traditional technique where a cup, usually made of glass, is suctioned to the skin using heat or a device to create a vacuum. The theory behind many traditional techniques are to move stagnant blood, improve blood flow and facilitate healing. Cupping has been said to help with many conditions from blood disorders to depression but there is a lack of compelling evidence supporting its' use to treat these conditions. I believe cupping is better used to massage and strip muscle and other connective tissue. I personally have treated patients and been treated using cupping for muscular strains and injuries that require a deep massage. This technique, similar to acupuncture, is not for everyone but can be effective for some people. Similar to the Kinesio Tape, cupping should not be used as an end all be all treatment but should be used for specific patients with specific conditions that could benefit from a different approach.