In order to focus on preventing injuries with the best kinesiology tape applications and the study of movement we must consider the causes of them. There is significant data to support the most common causes of injury are:
- Previous Injury
To discuss maintaining or improving performance, we must consider the factors of performance. In the book “PEAK” by Marc Bubbs, he describes the main contributing factors of performance to be health, nutrition, training, recovery and mindset. A similar series is supported by Scott Peltin, in “Sink, Float, or Swim,” a book describing maximizing human performance for executives and athletes. Peltin writes that mindset, movement, nutrition and recovery are the key ingredients to elite levels of performance.
Creating the best opportunity for patients
As health care professionals our role is to understand the factors and provide the best opportunity for our clients to heal and perform at their best selves. Our specific role in the rehab field often requires us to bring in many factors and integrate them for the patient so they can achieve this elite outcome.
With the above factors of performance in mind, we touch health, movement, training and recovery in every session. Some of us may contribute and influence mindset and nutrition as well, but there are other experts in the health care field to maximize those areas.
Let us combine movement and training together, which leaves us with health, movement and recovery on the performance end. This is followed by previous injury and fatigue on the injury vulnerability side. We can clearly tie previous injury to now-existing movement and health deficits, and certainly recovery is tied directly with fatigue resilience. Maximizing movement and recovery become our clear focus as practitioners in preventing injury and maximizing human performance.
Quality movement is based on the body’s ability to allow force and energy to transfer through the limbs and trunk in an efficient and effective way. This usually constitutes transferring force from the ground (in most cases) through the body and into another object. If force is not transferred effectively, then energy will compound in certain segments (increasing injury risk) or leak from the body creating a performance deficit.
We must screen and assess to determine efficient energy transfer through the body. Gray Cook and Mike Boyle wrote an article that forever changed my practice and simplified my clinical care, “A Joint by Joint Approach.” In short, they described the body as a series of joints stacked on top of each other with alternating mobility and stability demands. Put simply, ankles, hips and thoracic spine segments need mobility. These are common segments in the body that are designed to be stiff, but then become overly stiff and can limit efficient movement.
Opposing these joints are the feet, knees, lumbar segments, cervical segments and glenohumeral joints that require stability. By nature, these joints are highly mobile and require significant muscular and soft tissue support to function.
Joints that become stiff don’t allow force to transfer through the segment efficiently and joints that become hypermobile don’t allow force to transfer effectively. Either of these problems leads to a breakdown in the kinetic chain, poor performance and increased injury risk.
Screening ankles, hips and thoracic segments for mobility and the best kinesiology tape applications
These simple mobility screens will allow you to quickly determine your clients’ deficits and develop an action plan or treatment strategy to address them. For quick ways to improve mobility of these segments that translate well into home exercise programs, we can use a floss band.
If ankle mobility restoration is the goal, wrap the band in a circumferential manner around the ankle and perform repetitive motions into dorsiflexion.
For thoracic mobility, using a floss band is also a great method to restore thoracic rotation. Apply the floss band around the trunk as shown below and then repeat the testing rotational position for multiple reps.
With a goal to improve hip internal rotation, wrap the hip approximately as well. Then again, repeat the testing sequence.
Screen the feet, knees, lumbar segments and shoulder for stability. Our foundational screen for these segments includes the following:
- Single leg balance for the feet
- Step-down height for the knee control
- Rolling pattern efficiently for lumbar control
- Single-arm front plank, 45 seconds, for shoulder stability
The mobility and stability of these key joint areas lead to optimal performance and injury prevention. If your client can successfully use these joints effectively, then they can have tremendous power production and success in kinetic linking. If they lack mobility or stability in the desired joint, then that must be addressed, or risk of injury will maintain above average and the client will never achieve max potential in the desired activity.
The concept of recovery can take you in many directions, but ultimately this comes down to your body’s ability to tolerate stress. This could be physical stress, emotional stress, financial stress or environmental stress.
Today’s science strongly supports that the most critical factor in high performance, overall health, is healing and sleep. The military and professional sports organizations have been focused heavily on this category for the past decade. Improving sleep duration and quality are the two largest factors in recovery.
An adult should be achieving a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, whereas a teenager may require closer to nine hours. This must be our top priority when working with our clients on performance enhancement or injury prevention. All the physiological change we strive for in our treatment sessions is usually processed and takes full shape during sleep. If your client isn’t sleeping, it is all for nothing.
Tips for facilitating sleep
- Limit blue light 1-2 hours before bed. Blue light is from screens and it diminishes melatonin release and stimulates the brain in other areas, decreasing the likelihood of desired sleep.
- Match your sleep to the sun to maximize circadian rhythms. Make sure that your patients can see sunlight during the day, as it supports more natural sleep cycles and recovery.
- Modulate stress in authentic ways. Meditation is considered one of the most effective ways to manage effects of stress.
- Manage pain to maximize sleep. As health care providers we see this commonly, patients in pain who can’t sleep as a result.
Pain at night is thought to have a stronger correlation with inflammation than with sleeping position. As the body moves around all day, blood flow and the lymphatic system transport the swelling and inflammatory markers around the body, as the muscles pump the fluid through the vessels.
In the evening and at night, as the person decreases their movement and activity, swelling begins to accumulate in an area, which creates increased pressure in the region, and then presents as pain in the body. Sometimes this happens right away in the evening before bedtime, or it often occurs a few hours into the night.
The best kinesiology tape applications for dealing with inflammation and swelling
Patients can avoid accumulated inflammation at night by anticipating it and properly using ice earlier in the evening. I advise patients to ice 15 minutes every two hours before bed to reduce inflammatory components and improve overall sleep.
We have also found the use of intermittent compression, such as a compression floss band, to be effective at reducing inflammation directly before sleep. Sequential compression can also be a great way to reduce swelling in an aggravated limb.
Local kinesiology taping can also be a great tool that can be worn at night to reduce pain and inflammation, leading toward better sleep, and is one of the best kinesiology tape applications for specific pain.
Develop regular screenings
Overall, focusing on movement and recovery can lead to a tremendous reduction in injury risk and contribute to performance improvement in clients. Develop a regular screen you can use to rule out overly mobile or stable joints that can be supported with the best kinesiology tape application practices. Once problems are identified, develop an action plan to address them quickly so optimal movement can be restored.
Always consider sleep as a variable of recovery. It can be viewed cumulatively over a few days or weeks, and certainly just over one night of sleep. Both can lead to fatigue, decreased performance and increased injury risk.
TONY MIKLA, DPT, is a leading sports physical therapist, performance coach and researcher. He speaks and teaches nationally on sports physical therapy. He previously served as the physical therapy manager at the world-renowned EXOS in Phoenix, Ariz., and as a medical director for the Sacramento Sports Commission at Sacramento State University and Northern Arizona University. He is the founder and president of Kime Performance Institute, and in 2015 was a finalist for the NSCA Sports Medicine Specialist of the Year. He was awarded the 40 Under 40 Award from the Sacramento Business Journal in 2017. In addition to teaching for RockTape Functional Movement Training (FMT), most recently he developed the Bulletproof continuing education series for FMT+, including Bulletproof Spine, Bulletproof Shoulder and Bulletproof Knee.