Another tool for Women`s Health Therapists
By Marie-Josée Lord, Reg.PT
Past chair of the Women`s Health Division (2014-2016)
Several types of tapes and taping methods have been used in physiotherapy over the years and more recently, the use of elastic adhesive tape has taken over the world of sports and is now slowly making its way into women’s health especially in pregnancy and post-partum.
Unfortunately, there has been little research in this field but we have seen interesting clinical results suggesting that some taping applications could be very beneficial as an adjunct to your treatments for certain conditions in the pregnancy and post-partum moms.
I was trained using K-Tape and know the specific properties of that tape and its different applications, so in this article, I will refer to it as K-Tape and trust that you will inform yourself on the properties of the tape you are using if other than K-Tape. One thing I did realise doing the training is that one needs to be taught the specific applications and how to properly use the tape to have the effects expected on the targeted area and unfortunately with K-Taping, a picture is not worth a 1000 words!
In Europe, K-Tape has been used for quite a while in certain pelvic and women’s health conditions with good results. So how does this elastic adhesive tape work? It uses the skin receptors to influence proprioception, muscles and ligaments and subsequently bodily functions; achieving all this without being restrictive like a lot of rigid tapes. K-Tape facilitates and promotes the natural healing process by:
Improving muscle function
Removing circulatory barriers, reducing oedema
Supporting joint function
When the tape is applied, it “lifts” the skin in a wave-like pattern which causes a mechanical stimulation of receptors, increases circulation and a reduction in turgor. Depending on the condition and what you are targeting, the tape is applied in very distinctive ways. For example, you may want to do a muscle technique to either stimulate or relax it and even though the tape is applied to the same area, your technique will influence the muscle in different ways.
The different applications are muscular, ligament (on ligaments, tendons, pain points), corrective (functional or fascial) and lymphatic. So, this is when it becomes important to know how to apply the tape properly to get the desired effects on the structure being treated.
Skin sensitivity should be checked before applying the tape as well as not applying over open wounds or unhealed scars. Do not apply over parched skin and active psoriasis. Be careful of the genital zone (CTM zone) over the sacrum during pregnancy. The colour of the tape does not make a difference to the treatment but may influence the patient psychologically.
There are a few applications that I particularly find useful in pregnancy and post-partum.
The abdominal support technique is wonderful for the mom that is feeling an increased strain on the abdominal muscles and lumbar spine and would benefit from a support to ease the weight of the abdomen. The women often find the maternal abdominal supports to be quite hot and uncomfortable especially when sitting. The tape gives them the support needed without the restriction and cumbersomeness of a belt.
Many pregnant women complain of pelvic girdle pain especially SI joint pain. A ligament technique can be applied to the painful SI joint to improve the function of the joint. This may help maintain the manual work you would have done with this patient. The tape can usually stay in place for 5 days even if it gets wet from showers/baths or pool as long as the proper care is done when the tape is wet.
Another application of the K-Tape is on scars. Once the C-sections scar or hysterectomy scar is healed, the ‘little Xs’ scar tape technique can be used to help soften and increase mobility of the scar tissue. The Cross-Tape can also be used along the scar and will have similar effect. This works really well! I teach my clients how to redo their tape at home.
The lymphatic technique can give such relief to women that have the pregnancy heavy leg feeling, edema or varicose veins problems. Again, the tape is much more comfortable than wearing support stockings and the application can be shown to the spouse to continue further application at home. Of course, this technique is not reserved to pregnancy.
There are so many more applications not covered in this article that are worth trying with your clients. So have fun, use the tape and be amazed at the results!
Marie-Josée Lord, Reg. PT
Past chair of WHD (2014-2016)