by Melissa Diaz, D.C.
Referred to simply by the brand name, such as Kinesio Tape, Rocktape, and SpiderTech Tape, therapeutic taping is becoming an increasingly popular treatment tool. It was originally developed for the treatment of athletic injuries and various musculoskeletal conditions by Dr. Kenso Kase, using concepts of kinesiology. Therapeutic tape is composed of an elastic material that when applied, acts like a second skin directly affecting the circulation, stability, and function of the underlying tissues. Top athletes have been using it for years as an essential part of their preparation prior to competition, as evidenced by its popularity in the 2012 London Olympics, to prevent injury and optimize performance. What is not as commonly known, is that therapeutic taping can be used to minimize the discomfort that is many times associated with pregnancy.
The woman’s body undergoes rapid changes, particularly in the second and third trimester, which include a drastic shift in the way she distributes and carries the extra weight. This can make it difficult to find comfortable positions to sleep, sit, stand, and function during daily life. There is constant stress on the lumbar spine not only due to the weight, but due to the increase in the curvature of the low back. This can cause a “jamming” sensation at the bottom of the spine which is most of the time accompanied by stiffness in the surrounding muscles. There is also hormonally induced joint laxity which can be uncomfortable and lead to instability, particularly in the pelvic joints. Many times this is described as the “wobble” that women adopt towards the later months of pregnancy. Another common condition associated with pregnancy is that of meralgia paresthetica, which causes numbness, tingling, and burning pain in the outer thighs. It can cause normal actions such as standing or side sleeping to be unbearable. When tape is applied properly in the low back and hip regions, it can provide relief for these conditions.
The tape will lift the skin microscopically to allow for better circulation, thus helping to decrease inflammation in the affected areas. With decreased inflammation, symptoms like pain, swelling, and redness will decrease. The tape also functions as a flexible support, which can be more comfortable and practical than traditional support belts or harnesses. Relief and support is ongoing as long as the tape remains in place, which is an average of 3 to 7 days. The use of tape is an excellent adjunct to chiropractic adjustments because it provides an extension of the relief obtained at the office, long after the treatment is over. Therapeutic tape is not intended to be a cure-all or a replacement to chiropractic treatments, it is simply meant as a tool to help the mom-to-be achieve better function and be more comfortable during those last crucial months.