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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

Stuff I'm studying in Quarantine. Part 1: Acupressure Taping

Since I have been mandated by the government to shut down my practice due to the COVID-19 virus, while I'm stuck at home, I realized that this is the perfect time to catch up on my continuing education, and since I'm home and unable to practice what I'm learning, (I'm a kinesthetic learner - I need to DO to learn) I figured putting my thoughts about what I'm learning in writing is the next best thing. The first course I decided to tackle this cycle is on Acupressure Taping. If you have ever watched a sporting event and seen athletes wearing the brightly colored tape over shoulders or legs, you have seen a therapeutic procedure called Kinesiology taping. I had seen the colored tape and wasn't too familiar with it, until I had it done to myself. Last summer, I had severely rolled my frequently-sprained ankle while teaching, then since it was weak and very painful, I ended up rolling it several more times throughout the rest of the summer, leaving me with a lot of pain and weakness and needing to do a lot of strengthening work through the fall. When winter came around, I was teaching a ballet class and my students were just starting to wear pointe shoes, which meant I had to wear my pointe shoes - not something that is recommended if you have an weak and injured ankle. So before the first class, I asked the doc that I work with to tape my ankle for a little more support. I was confident that I had re-strengthened the ankle well, but I didn't want to have an embarrassing collapse in front of my students on the first day. When he taped my ankle, I was expecting the usual solid, stiff, over-sticky, uncomfortable stuff, but instead he used this stretchy tape and wrapped my ankle in a way I totally didn't expect. I had full range of motion, but still felt secure. When I taught that evening, the tape stayed stuck and I not only felt stable and secure while dancing, I had no pain. Plus the tape held up for my classes over the next 3 days. I was impressed and curious. Later, I received a free e-book about Kinesiology Taping for pregnancy. After that I started looking for courses to learn more about the benefits of this taping.

I decided on a course for Acupressure Taping. This is based on Kinesiology taping but also integrates the acupressure meridians of Chinese Medicine. Basically, when someone has an injury to a muscle or any other system, the tape is applied in certain directions and on certain areas. To put it very simply, the elastic tape is placed along a stretched muscle or over a joint, so when the muscle or joint returns to it's regular length, and goes about it's regular movement, the tape basically lifts the top layer of skin and allows for the tissue, fascia, and muscles below the tape to release and stretch while supporting the injury. This allows for better blood flow, lymph drainage, and, in line with the Chinese Medicine protocol, opens up the meridians to improve balance chi and energy flow resulting in pain reduction and easier healing. The tape can be used for a number of conditions beyond sore muscles and joints. It can help things such as headaches, sinus problems, digestive issues, and even bruises. Depending on the condition being treated, the tape is placed in multiple places and directions based around where the problem may be coming from. For example, for headaches caused by sinuses, rather than putting tape on the head or face where the pain is felt, tape is used along back of the neck and across the tops of the shoulders to open up the lymphatic system to encourage all that sinus irritation and resulting gunk to move through the system rather than just sitting and getting irritated and giving you a headache. So there is more to it than just "It hurts here. Ok, stick the tape there". There needs to be a knowledge of what is causing the issue and where the dysfunction is coming from in order to heal by treating the cause of the issue not the symptoms. And that is a method I like.

There is a lot more, but those are my preliminary introductory thoughts on this new topic. Oh, and an answer that I had wondered after seeing those colorful tapes - the different colors do not mean anything. One color is not stronger, stretchier, or does anything differently than another color. They are just colorful, but helpful when taping an area with multiple strips doing different things, it can help keep everything sorted out better. Although, in Acupressure Taping, they recommend using pink, blue, and tan tapes because in Chinese Medicine, disorder can be related to too much warmth or cold in the chi, so along the lines of color therapy, the blue can provide cooling, the pink is more warming, and the tan is neutral. I look forward to studying this more, watching the videos, and acquiring more knowledge about this modality and ultimately being able to offer this option to my clients once I can return to work and reopen.For now, my test subjects will have to be myself, my husband, and my kids, but I am looking forward to bringing this new knowledge to my practice. Now to pass my test! (Wish me luck - did I mention I was stuck at home with a husband and kids? Taking a simple test won't be as easy as it seems!)

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