In a previous blog post, Muscle Pain: Is It Really A Medical Condition, I wrote about why the study of Somatic Education should be a part of medical school curriculum. I'd like to take the discussion further. In the 2012 Olympics many saw an interesting addition to the uniforms of athletes: colorful stripes of tape on the shoulders, backs, and legs. This Kinesio Tape was the "therapy" of choice on the part of the supporting medical staff caring for the Olympic athletes. The goal was to ease muscle pain and improve muscle function.
Kinesio Tape is elasticized tape that is thought to relief muscle pain and improve muscle function. Statistical evidence supporting the use of Kinesio Tape is insignificant, yet more and more professional athletes are using it. Power Balance bracelets were all the rage not too long ago, so perhaps this is a similar trend. This tells me that people aren't basing their choices on science, but rather on celebrity popularity.
Kinesio Tape is not a long-term solution to muscle pain or muscle dysfunction.
Better movement doesn't come from applying Kinesio Tape to one's body any more than a better tennis swing will come from wearing the same tennis outfit as Serena Williams. Reeducating movement patterns will improve movement.
Here's why Kinesio Tape doesn't work and how you can get muscle pain relief and improved muscle function/athletic performance:
Kinesio Tape acts as slight sensory feedback to the muscles in order to give them a different sensation, yet that is not a strong enough level of feedback to reset the cortex for more optimum muscle function.
The sensory motor system of the brain controls all voluntary movement of muscles. When muscles are excessively tight, painful, or not functioning as well as desired, it is because they have learned to stay contracted at the level of the central nervous system; improvement in the sensory motor cortex is the best option for long-term improvement. A muscle that holds excess tension is a muscle that cannot fully release, nor contract. Muscles that are fully relaxed and low in tonus are more efficiently recruited for ballistic movement - the kind of action that is basic and necessary to all sports.
Pandiculation, a hard-wired brain reflex, is the most efficient method for restoring full muscle function and sensation. By contracting muscles and then slowly releasing them the brain is able to retrieve both sensation and full movement potential.
Nothing that anybody does to you can change what your brain and muscles are doing.
This means that instead of putting something on your body in a vain attempt to change the pain, you must teach your muscles to do something new and different from within to reset the cortex of your brain. Some clients have described their experience of pandiculation as one of a "software update" of the brain, so the muscles can move more efficiently and freely.
Hanna Somatic Exercises and clinical hands-on methods address Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA), which is the root cause of most chronic muscle function pain. SMA occurs due to adaptation to stress - which includes athletic training and over-training, as well as accidents, injuries, surgeries, or repetitive stress. A short routine of Somatic Exercises or a series of hands-on clinical sessions can teach those who have "tried everything" for pain relief - including Kinesio Tape - to eliminate pain for the long term. Back pain, sciatica, SI joint dysfunction, chronic neck, shoulder, and hip pain, and chronic headaches are all conditions easily eliminated with Hanna Somatic (Clinical Somatic) Education.
This method is the best kept secret in the field of healthcare, pain management, and athletic performance. Athletic trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists and body workers can be at the forefront of athletic training and rehabilitation using the clinical techniques and movements of Hanna Somatics. It's simple, scientific, easy, fun, and comfortable. And it will change your life and maybe even save your athletic career.
If you're interested in a participating in a professional certification training in Clinical Somatic Education, or becoming a Somatic Exercise Coach, contact Essential Somatics for information.