Magical Tapes and Bracelets: Kinesiotape and Hologram Bracelets

written by Lorraine G. Glass, MSc, CSE{-CEP, NASM-CES and PES


This article originally appeared in the Winter, 2013 edition of the Fitness Informer, and is reprinted here with permission of the author.

Although kinesiotape and specific taping methods have been around for years, the use of tape in athletic performances such as World Cup Soccer and the 2012 olympics has exploded and expanded its use into the recreational athlete market.

KINESIOTAPES

So what is kinesiotape? It is a non-medicated tape with an elastic component designed to mimic our skin. This type of taping allows for muscle action and joint range of motion, whereas traditional athletic taping, which alters muscle action, is designed to limit or restrict joint range of motion. There is another major difference: kinesiotape has claims of healing and injury repair along with prevention of injury and enhanced performance.
There are several brands of kinesiotape: Spider-Tech©, Kinesio®-Tex tape, and Rocktape, to name a few. All of the tapes provide similar claims—improved biomechanical and biochemistry function related to tissue healing and muscle contractility performance. As mentioned, this type of tape mimics our skin. It is designed and applied specifically in myofascial lines similar to how the body moves, coupling how our neuromuscular system functions.

Human movement is the result of synchronicity of fascia, muscles, and joints working together. It depends on internal and external feedback systems to accurately depict what is required to move and when. A weak link in any part of this system due to fatigue, injury, and muscle imbalance disrupts synchronicity and affects performance.

The concept behind the kinesiotape is that it creates fascial unloading, meaning the elasticity property of the tape pulls the skin away to reduce pressure beneath. This reduced pressure allows for increased blood flow, increasing oxygen and nutrients to injured tissue. At the same time, removal of inflammatory agents limit the healing process. Remember inflammation initially is good; it is the body’s response telling you that motions used have created soft tissue damage and they have had enough, but unfortunately many people often ignore this initial information! Continual inflammation then hinders the healing process through vessel constriction, reduced oxygen and nutrient supply, and increased inflammatory agents causing further swelling and redness and thus pain. So in theory any reduction in inflammation restores the healing process.

Research is starting to catch up with product claims and athlete testimonials. There is research to both support and refute the claims of kinesiotape. Based on the research I have reviewed, I will go out on a limb and give one thumb up to support the use of kinesiotape as a therapeutic method.

HOLOGRAM BRACELETS

A proven hoax! Harriet A. Hall, MD and editor for the website Science-Based Medicine, published an article that stated “these so-called energy bracelets (also pendants and cards) allegedly contain a hologram embedded with frequencies that react positively with your body’s energy field to improve your balance, strength, flexibility, energy, and sport performance; and they also offer all sorts of other benefits (such as helping horses and birds and relieving menstrual cramps and headaches). The claims and the language on the websites are so blatantly pseudoscientific it’s hard to believe anyone would fall for them.”

Shucks—I was a fool!

Several studies have demonstrated the supposed benefits of the hologram bracelet to be a scam. One recent study from the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine concluded “there were no significant performance benefits when wearing the Power Balance® bracelet compared to the placebo bracelet.”

In 2011 Power Balance®, a leading company who produces the bracelets, publicly admitted “there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct.” Power Balance® began in 2007 and (at time of writing this article) still continues to produce the bracelets, but now relies on athlete testimonial over scientific research to support the product.

References are available on request from the Provincial Fitness Unit of Alberta.

Lorraine Glass holds a Masters of Science in Human Movement, is a CSEP certified exercise physiologist, and works as an instructor with the NAIT Personal Fitness Trainer Program. her specialization is in corrective exercise and performance enhancement training.

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