From compression to therapeutic taping, from the classic white tape to the blue one of Dream K: today taping has an increasingly important role in physiotherapy treatment and the materials are also now at the forefront.
Dr Tonino Cianfoni, who has been a physiotherapist for 32 years and has been a part of the national teams of various sports (from football to athletics, from swimming to water polo and ping pong up to the collaboration with the national Paralympic teams) and has followed top level athletes of various disciplines (Demetrio Albertini, Giorgio Lamberti, Stefano Baldini to mention just a few champions), tells us about this: "Nowadays, taping helps a lot both during the recovery and rehabilitation phase and in order to deal with the pain. The new materials and new techniques are very important for an athlete’s recovery".
An innovation called Dream K, the original Sixtus plaster (extremely well known after the 2012 European Championships when the blue stripes appeared on Balotelli's back) that in just a few years changed not only the materials but also the taping methods.
"As concerns functional taping - recalls Dr Cianfoni - until a few years ago only the classic white tape was used. I'm talking about the 4-5 cm wide plaster which was used to block the joint and support it, such as in the case of a slight ankle injury, allowing the athlete to compete. In this case it mainly has a blocking action which always involves paying particular attention to the taping in order to avoid it being too tight, as we risk blisters being formed due to sweat and the skin rubbing on the shoe, and a tourniquet effect if too tight.
From classic white tape we have moved on to using the "Kinesio, - the so-called new millennium tape as Sixtus Italia has rightly renamed it - explains Dr Cianfoni who has trained many young physiotherapists at the University of Chieti. \r\nIt is a cotton tape with a glue specifically designed to avoid irritating the athlete's skin.
Dream K is a neuromuscular tape which is applied both during the acute pain stage and during the rehabilitation phase". An innovative product that has revolutionised the classic taping technique: "It is very important to make sure that the tape is correctly placed along the muscle and never covers the entire muscle group - says Dr Cianfoni.
For its correct operation and to bring benefits to the athlete it is necessary to follow some rules: for example, the tape can be applied for a compressive stimulus both on the muscle, placing the tape on the skin along the line of the muscle while it is contracting. On the contrary, for a decompression stimulus, the tape must be applied along the line of the muscle while it is in an elongated position".
And how do you know if the taping has been carried out correctly?
"Let’s start from the basic principle that this taping is used to normalise the joint R.O.M. and to reduce the pain, therefore the patient can immediately perceive an improvement and a reduction of the problem, on the contrary should the patient perceive an increase in pain this will indicate an incorrect tape position and in this case it is necessary to re-evaluate the bandaging and to reapply it correctly".
A new product for taping and therefore also a new way of applying tapes: "It is clear that this is a product that you need to know how to use. Attention must always be paid to the length of the tape: if it is too short it reduces the receptive stimulus and you obtain less results, while a tape which is too long can involve, without this being intended, other skin and muscle areas. Before each taping, we must always bear in mind the exact size and shape of the tape. I would like to underline that for a correct decompression it is advisable to cover about 30-50 per cent of the surface of the muscle".
One last advantage of Dream K is comfort, once applied, in fact "it can remain at most four days. During this period the patient can easily have a shower without problems as the cotton tape dries easily, just pat it dry. And it is also breathable". Ultimately, "taping with Dream K allows stimulating the body’s self-healing process, unlike the white tape which acts by blocking the limb and therefore is mainly useful to prevent movements that produce pain", concludes the Dr Tonino Cianfoni.