Possible Mechanism

1. The reason for the stretch position before tape application or tape stretching

Cutaneous mechanoreceptors respond to the stretching of skin.1) Application of pressure and stretching to the skin using kinesiology tape can stimulate cutaneous mechanoreceptors2) and enhance joint position sense.3,4,5) Based on suggestion from Grigg,6) joint movement after application of tape induces pressure and a deformation/stretching of the skin, thereby activating cutaneous mechanoreceptors. If the subject does not tolerate stretching due to pain, more stretching of the tape will stimulate the skin through pressure and deformation, because of the tendency to recoil.

2. The pathways of pain relief

Input from normal tactile stimulation activates large diameter A beta fibers. Nociception activates small diameter A delta and C fibers. Kinesiology taping of the skin may stimulate cutaneous mechanoreceptors.2) Effective pain relief occurs through stimulation of A beta fibers connected to low threshold mechanoreceptors in skin, muscles, joints, and tendons in the area of pain. The application of kinesiology tape reduces the activity of C fibers and stimulates proprioceptive A beta fibers (low threshold receptors).7) Therefore, pain reduction may be achieved by mechanical stimulation such as touch, pressure, and vibration that occur through skin deformation caused by movement after tape application to the skin. Mechanical stimulation through taping is rapidly conveyed to the brain through A beta fibers and may activate inhibitory interneurons that block pain sensation conducted by A delta and C fibers.8, 9)

3. The effect of Balance Taping on misalignment

The optimal alignment of the body is the basis for health of the musculoskeletal system. A twisted body can be a target for pain. Postural change through misalignment induces imbalance in the muscles around the joint and alters movement, thereby causing pain. Exercise in a state of misalignment can cause muscle imbalance, abnormal joint movement, altered proprioception, joint degeneration, postural change, and pain. Therefore, the recovery of normal alignment of the muscles and joints by Balance Taping may result in pain relief and correct movement.10)

4. Limitation of painful movement10)

Restriction of painful movement by mechanical Balance Taping (due to the elasticity of the tape) may influence pain reduction. In acute pain, Balance Taping to limit the movement of muscles and joints is necessary, because muscle and joint movements are painful. Therefore, the prolonged time to natural healing due to painful movement is shortened by Balance Taping.11)

5. Assistance for the elastic properties of muscle

The elastic property of kinesiology tape that causes it to act like a rubber band could help fatigued muscle.12) Skeletal muscle has properties of stretch and recoil.13,14,15,16) Force must be generated through the ability of muscle fibers to stretch and recoil. Fatigued skeletal muscle may result in impairment of elasticity and deficiencies of running kinematics.17, 18) Therefore, Balance Taping using the elasticity of kinesiology tape may assist skeletal muscle elastic properties.

6. Improved movement through assistance for joint instability

Proximal joint stability results in flexible and powerful movements of distal joints. Balance Taping applied to an unstable joint result in stability without joint limitation due to the elastic properties of kinesiology tape.10)

7. Cutaneous fusimotor reflex

Balance Taping may affect the cutaneous fusimotor reflex. The smooth contraction of muscles under taped skin may be induced by the cutaneous fusimotor reflex. A previous study showed that sensory input from the skin could activate gamma motor neurons.19) Since efferent input from gamma motor neurons modulates the sensitivity of muscle spindles, sensory input to gamma motor neurons from tactile stimulation indirectly increases Ia afferent feedback.20) A recent study indirectly suggested that tactile stimulation using kinesiology tape around the knee could alleviate quadriceps femoris weakness attributable to attenuation of Ia afferent activity.20) Continuous tactile stimulation through voluntary movement after Balance Taping to skin may lead to a mild physiologic contraction. If excessive contraction of the muscles occurs in this process, type II afferent fibers may be excited, relaxing the muscles, and balanced muscle length is achieved.
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