This week’s column looks into this question sent in by a reader:
“Paul, I wonder if you could give me your thoughts regarding the use and possible benefits of Kinesiology tape as used by top athletes in a variety of sports. I have been involved in local athletics for over 30 years but recently suffered from bad injuries to my calf muscles, Achilles and lower back. I tried all sorts of treatment to get some relief and in sheer desperation tried the tape. Now, I don’t know if it has helped nor not. I compete in parkruns and various club events and it may be coincidence, or the tape, I can’t be sure but it seemed to benefit me.
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Paul Gough: Kinesiology tape is the coloured tape that you may have noticed several top athletes wearing recently.
Stars from tennis, football and athletics have all been using ‘Kino tape’, which came on the scene in 2012 when there was an abundance of sport on TV. It was the year of the European Championships, Wimbledon and of course the London Olympics.
The science behind kinesiology tape is that it’s supposed to provide vital oxygen and nutrients to muscles, tendons and ligaments, to help them heal faster. Personally, I’m very sceptical of things like this but I’d always say that anything is worth a go as long as it doesn’t cost you lots of money.
If you do try it and notice a difference, it’s likely to happen to smaller parts on your body such as the Achilles or knee tendons. Both are hot spot injury points for runners aged 45+.
Now, Alan points out that his back AND Achilles tendon feel better as a result of wearing this kind of tape. Here’s what could be happening and where the magic of the human body’s ability to correct itself, shows up:
That the tape has provided ‘some’ relief to the Achilles is likely to be true. I could never say for certain how much, but if you’ve got a tendon that’s damaged, adding some much needed nutrients to help it while you run, is going to make a difference.
And if Alan has been running with a dodgy Achilles, then it’s no wonder that he’s also suffered a bad back, or visa-versa. You are likely to suffer from a bad back if you’re running with an Achilles that can’t take the full weight of your body whenever your foot lands.
So, making just a slight change to the feel, strength, lack of pain felt at your Achilles, will also make a change to the pressure that’s added to your lower back. If I were Alan, I’d go one step further and get it looked at by a physio or a sports therapist.
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