What’s the Role of Elastic Therapeutic Tape in Injury Prevention for Volleyball Players?

April 17, 2024

Volleyball, a sport loved worldwide, requires athletes to engage in hustling, jumping, diving, and spiking. While the sport offers excitement and thrill, players often face the risk of injuries. Injury prevention has thus become a topic of utmost significance in the athletic world. A popular method to prevent or reduce injuries in sports is the use of elastic therapeutic tape, commonly known as Kinesio tape. In this article, we delve into the role of this special tape in injury prevention among volleyball players.

Kinesio Taping: The Basics

Kinesio Taping is a technique that uses an elastic tape designed to mimic the thickness and elasticity of human skin. This technique is primarily used to support injured muscles and joints without restricting their range of motion.

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The tape supposedly lifts the skin away from the muscle and fascia underneath, creating a decompressive effect. This lift is understood to increase blood flow, reduce pain and swelling, speed recovery, and increase the performance of athletes.

Kinesio tape is widely used in various sports, including volleyball, to manage pain and prevent injuries. It is seen on the bodies of many athletes, providing support to their muscles during intense physical activity.

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The Science Behind Taping for Pain Relief and Injury Prevention

Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of kinesio taping in pain relief and injury prevention. A notable source of these studies is PubMed, a free, online resource providing access to the Medline database of citations and abstracts of biomedical research articles.

One such study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy concluded that kinesio taping could reduce pain and disability in individuals with shoulder pain. Another study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science reported that the tape could enhance muscular strength and proprioception, which are vital for preventing sports injuries.

In the context of volleyball, ankle injuries are common. An interesting study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine suggested that ankle taping could prevent recurrent ankle sprains. The researchers found that the taped ankles of the subjects had more stability than the untaped ones.

The Effect of Kinesio Taping on Athletic Performance

While injury prevention is paramount, athletes are also interested in anything that can enhance their performance. Some believe that kinesio taping does just that.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that kinesio taping can maintain the range of motion and muscular endurance in athletes after a fatiguing exercise session. In theory, this could help athletes like volleyball players perform better and longer during a match.

However, it’s important to note that the effects of kinesio tape on performance can vary. Factors such as the type of sport, the athlete’s level of fitness, and the presence of an injury can all influence how helpful the tape is.

How to Properly Use Kinesio Tape

The effectiveness of kinesio tape largely depends on its proper usage. It’s not simply about sticking the tape onto your skin.

Firstly, it’s important to apply the tape on clean, dry skin, free of oils or lotions. The tape should be applied in a particular pattern, depending on the muscle that needs support. The tape is usually stretched to 50-75% of its original length and then applied on the muscle.

One end of the tape should be anchored to the skin, and the remaining length should be applied over the muscle group in the direction of the muscle fibers. Rubbing the tape after application creates heat, which activates the adhesive.

For volleyball players, taping is often done on the wrists, ankles, and knees. These areas are prone to injury due to the intense and repetitive actions in the sport.

The Controversy Surrounding the Use of Kinesio Tape

Despite the widespread use of kinesio tape, it has its share of critics. Some experts argue that the benefits of the tape are more psychological than physical. They believe that the tape may trick the mind into thinking that the muscle or joint is more supported, which reduces the perception of pain.

A 2012 review of 12 studies published in the Sports Medicine journal found inconclusive evidence to support the use of kinesio tape for improving muscle strength. Therefore, while some studies and user experiences suggest that kinesio tape can be beneficial, more research is needed in this area.

It’s also important to mention that although kinesio tape can be useful, it is not a substitute for proper strength training, conditioning, and rest. Athletes should consult with healthcare professionals or physical therapists to ensure that they’re using the tape correctly and benefiting from its potential advantages.

Is Kinesio Taping a Placebo Effect?

The use of kinesiology tape is rife with controversy, with many experts questioning its effectiveness. A common concern among critics is that the benefits of kinesio tape may largely be due to placebo effects. This suggests that the perceived benefits of taping might be a result of psychological rather than physical reactions.

In a placebo taping scenario, the athletes believe that the tape is providing support and reducing pain, which in turn can help them perform better or avoid injuries. While this mind-over-matter phenomenon isn’t harmful, it does question the physiological functionality of kinesio tape.

Research on this topic has been inconclusive. A 2014 meta-analysis published on PubMed Google, which included 12 studies, found insufficient evidence to support the use of kinesio tape in enhancing muscle strength. However, it didn’t entirely dismiss the potential placebo effect.

As such, while kinesiology taping may provide psychological reassurance to athletes, there’s a need for additional well-controlled studies to examine its actual physical effect. It’s also crucial to remember that the proper use of kinesio tape, as indicated in a previous section, might play a significant role in its effectiveness.

The Relevance of Physical Therapy in Conjunction with Kinesio Taping

While kinesio tape can serve as a useful tool in injury prevention and performance enhancement, it should not be seen as a standalone solution. Athletes must also engage in physical therapy, strength training, and conditioning exercises, which have been proven to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance.

Physical therapy plays a vital role in recovering from injuries. It helps to restore function, improve mobility, and alleviate pain. In the context of volleyball, athletic taping is often combined with physical therapy to help athletes recover from ankle sprains and other common injuries.

Physical therapists are experts in musculoskeletal health. They can guide athletes on the proper use of kinesio tape and other techniques to prevent and manage injuries. As such, athletes should always consult with them before applying kinesio tape or making any significant changes to their training routine.

Conclusion: Is Kinesio Tape Worth a Shot?

In conclusion, the use of kinesio tape among volleyball players and other athletes remains a hotly debated topic. While some studies available on Google Scholar and PMC Free Article have suggested benefits such as reduced pain, enhanced muscular strength, and proprioception, others have questioned its effectiveness and pointed to a possible placebo effect.

Nonetheless, the widespread use of kinesio tape in various sports, including volleyball, suggests that many athletes find it beneficial. But it’s important for players to remember that taping alone can’t entirely prevent injuries or enhance performance. It should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to athlete health, which includes proper training, conditioning, rest, and physical therapy.

Despite the ongoing debates, one thing is certain: more rigorous, high-quality studies are required to definitively establish the effectiveness of kinesio tape. Until then, athletes and coaches should make informed decisions about its use, ideally in consultation with healthcare professionals or physical therapists.

As with any sport, the key to success in volleyball is not just about preventing injuries but also about developing skills, maintaining fitness, and nurturing a love for the game.