It’s always nice to find some research that backs up what we find useful in clinic. Anyone who has taken a FMT course will be familiar with the Spiral squat chain taping that we teach.
This study by Song et al examines the effect of a very similar taping (basically it’s the top half of the application hip-knee) on female patients with patello-femoral pain (and a control group without pain) during a single leg squat movement.
The study compared 2 taping techniques, one group with no stretch on tape and the leg in neutral posture. The second group had taping with ‘moderate stretch’ on tape with the leg in an externally rotated position. The first group is a little like our symptom reduction taping and the second group is pretty much exactly how we would tape as a dynamic postural taping.
They found that in the PFP group both taping applications where effective in reducing pain on squats, but only the second taping application was effective in altering the pattern of movement and muscle contraction seen during the squat.
The take home message here is if all you want to achieve is pain reduction, apply tape with little to no stretch. More stretch won’t create more relief. On the other hand if you want to use tape to alter posture and movement patterns it might be a good idea to consider apply tape in the corrected position and using a little more tape stretch, however if you do this you are inevitably upping the risk of skin reaction so avoid tape stretch over delicate areas and go gentle on the first application; you can always do more next time. The authors make particular comment that the ‘sham’ taping they used was surprisingly effective in reducing pain, as small as this study is it still reinforces the concept that under some circumstances simply the presence of tape on skin, without any stretch, provokes significant change in pain perception. To my reading this further reinforces the neural model of tape running interference on pain pathways rather than having a strong mechanical effect of tissue. Sometimes, especially when it comes to pain reduction less is indeed more.
Til next time