A couple months ago I attended my first taping course: Rock Tape FMT Basic. I decided to check it out because I have been using taping techniques that I’ve learned either in school or through online continuing education and thought it was about time to attend a course in person. For those that know me, I’m definitely a fan of using Dynamic Tape, and even wrote a post about it a while back. However, I’ve been very curious to check out a Rock Tape course ever since I started following Perry Nickelston (i.e. Mr. Stop Chasing Pain). Perry is a Chiropractor, Functional Movement Guy, Master Rock Tape Instructor, etc…and while he was not teaching the course I attended, I still had to check it out and see what Rock Tape is all about! Perry is a big fan of neurophysiology in relation to pain so I had high hopes for what I was going to learn! Side note: it doesn’t hurt that Rock Tape gives students a 50% discount!!
Here are the major highlights from the course:
How is Rock Tape different than other kinesiotape?
Rock Tape is different in terms of their philosophy, but the effects that the tape produces are the same as any other kind of tape. Rock Tape does not support the traditional kinesiotaping method of taping from origin to insertion, instead they promote “taping movements not muscles.” What does this mean? Rather than trying to facilitate or inhibit a muscle in particular to cause a change, they attack groups of muscles in relation to a movement pattern. I find the concept intriguing because I’m a big fan of functional movement, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t believe it matters all that much because just having the tape on the skin will induce a change no matter how it is applied.
How does the tape actually work?
The tape is applied with 3 purposes:
- Pain mitigation: This is proposed to occur through the gate control theory of pain management. This theory proposes that large and small nerve fibers carry sensory signals to the spinal cord, which are then transmitted to the brain. Pain is carried via the smaller nerve fibers and other sensations such as touch, pressure, and temperature are carried via the large nerve fibers. Stimulation of these larger nerve fibers via the application of tape allows for the ability to override the ‘pain signals’ being carried via the smaller nerve fibers. I put pain signals in quotes because current pain science evidence tells us that 1) pain is not an input, but rather an output, 2) that nociception is not equivalent to pain, and 3) that nociception is not required for pain to be present. So what do I think is actually happening when tape is applied to the skin? As Dr. E would say, the tape is providing a novel stimulus, which the brain interprets as safe and/or decreased threat, and thus pain is reduced. For more information on this concept check out articles on his website found here, here, and here.
- Decompression: This allows better circulation to and from the area taped by lifting the skin and underlying tissues.
- Neurosensory input: Altered afferent signals travel from the taped area to the brain, which in turn alter the efferent signals returning to the taped area; in English this means that tape on the skin changes the sensory input, which in turn changes the motor output. Articles supporting this philosophy can be found here and here.
What disorders/conditions can the tape be used for?
- Pain via gate control theory or providing a novel stimulus
- Fluid dynamics (i.e. edema or effusion) via decompression action of the tape
- Posture via neurosensory input (i.e. kinesthetic awareness)
- Nerve entrapment via decompression action of the tape
- Scar via decompression action of the tape
I want to reiterate that just having tape on the skin induces a change (in the form of decreased pain) so this effect occurs no matter what you’re trying to target in terms of disorders/conditions.
My goal for this article was to detail the thought process behind taping so if you found this information intriguing, and want to learn more about specific techniques check out RockTape.com