I've recently been doing more taping with my Sports Massage clients and I thought I'd explain a little more about this technique and how it works.
Taping for injuries and swelling
Taping is definitely not going to help with an acute injury, for that you need RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). However once you've gone through initial recovery supportive taping can help an injury to get back to normal. Taping can help an ankle you've sprained, for example, to be or taping to be better support. You can also relieve swelling and help fluid drainage from the area with taping in smaller strips.
Taping to relax a muscle
You can use certain taping technique to relax a muscle to help it become less tight and overactive. The tape acts as a reminder to the nervous system that it's supported and can switch off and the muscle gets to relax more - win win!
Taping to activate a muscle
You can also use cross taping or taping with more stretch to activate a muscle more, to switch it on and remind it that it needs to work harder. Again this works by stimulating the nervous system, and ensuring the practitioner applies the right level of stretch to the muscle and to the tape when applying it.
Taping as a reminder
You can tape to remind a joint or your spine where it should be. This can be used to remind you when your posture slips or you slump forwards, because the tap stretches and pulls your skin slightly, encouraging you to sit well. Shoulders particularly can roll forwards when you work at a desk or drive a lot, you can tape them in a similar way to remind the shoulder to remain in the right position.
Taping to support joints
Taping can act as a muscular and fascial reminder for joint position, and for smaller joints physically hold them in the right position.
Taping for scars
You can also tape to help scar healing, this taps into the fascia quite strongly and helps a scar to heal with less visual and physical impact on surrounding tissue.