It has become commonplace to see human athletes decorated with colorful kinesiology tape while training and competing. More recently, however, the benefits of kinesiology or “rock” taping have begun to be recognized in our equine athletes as well. Kinesiology tape is a woven cotton tape that can stretch up to 180% lengthwise and is applied directly to the skin or hair with some degree of stretch. The stretch inherent in the tape then pulls on the skin or hair, activating the tissue layers beneath. More specifically, the tape acts by working on the facial layers beneath the skin. Facia is tissue that forms an extensive network surrounding all structures in the body and is highly innervated with sensory and proprioceptive neurons. When the tape is applied, the inherent stretch pulls on the facial layers beneath the skin, creating space that allows for improved blood and lymphatic flow. Because all facia is connected in an intricate network, the stretching and lifting experienced by superficial layers is transmitted to deeper layers. In this way it is able to provide pressure and pain relief, as well as improve proprioceptive input to the central nervous system, thereby affecting structural function and movement. The tape can be used for various reasons including structural support, pain relief, and anti-inflammatory purposes. It is most effective if applied following bodywork that has improved tissue mobilization or activation in some way (i.e. acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, stretching, etc.)

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