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Massage Today
February, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 02


By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT


I am a LMT in the Denver area, I currently work with two pro teams and I have been seeing the blue tape all over the athletes and staff. They are using it for lower back spasms and plantar issues.

In speaking with their trainers they told me that the tape would have to stay on for five days and that it would help with lymphatic drainage and muscle spasms. This is all new to me. Do you know anything on this taping technique and if so what exactly is it?

- Mark from Colorado

Dear Mark:

Thank you for writing. I have been using Kinesio tape for about a year for neck and head pain. I contacted John Jarvis, director of Kinesio USA, to answer your letter. Here is what John had to say:

Well, you saw the "blue tape!" We do, in fact, have a number of professional teams using the Kinesio(r) Taping Method. Since it's inception in the U.S., Kinesio Taping has become the standard for therapeutic taping utilizing its unique, beneficial, and safe qualities for soft tissue and joint manipulation. Our primary population of users (over 16,000 registered in the U.S.) is PTs, OTs, DCs, MDs, and recently MTs, all due to the effectiveness in the rehabilitation and preventative care of literally hundreds of clinical conditions. The technique is easy to learn and even easier to apply!

The tape will stay on for several days (typically three to five, and yes, showers are ok.) and offers therapeutic benefits on a continued 24-hour basis, aiding in the re-education of the neuromuscularskeletal system. The Kinesio Taping Method involves taping over and around muscles in order to correct muscle function, improve circulation of lymph, relieve pain and support joints. Hope this helps, Mark!

John Jarvis can be contacted at . For more information visit


For years, I've heard about and read that massage therapists incorporate pain-relieving gels into their massage therapy treatments. I'm not sure how to use them for maximum client benefit. Also, can you tell me how and why they work, and if you use them?

- Alice from Tennessee

Dear Alice:

Thank you for your question. I have been using pain-relieving topical gels since I started practicing massage therapy. The school I went to used them post-treatment after our massage sessions. My patients really benefit from the home care aspect also. I sell a lot of pain-reliving gel in a year, which is an added revenue builder to my practice. I use the gel the most during post-treatment. If my patients are in so much pain that the muscles need to be calmed down before I work the area, I will also apply pain-reliving gel to the area and then work in another area and come back to those muscles. I contacted Perry Isenberg, vice-president of marketing with Performance Health Inc., makers of a pain-reliving gel that is available from health care providers. Perry had the following to share in response to your question:

A well-formulated, effective topical pain reliever can be a versatile tool to help you achieve the desired treatment outcome. The three most common situations a pain reliever can help with are muscle spasms, inflammation and stiff joints. Massage therapy is effective in pain management because touch and pressure receptors in the skin are stimulated in such a way as to compete with the pain sensation for recognition in the brain. Touch and pressure carry impulses faster than pain receptors. Thermal receptors in the skin, especially cold receptors, also carry sensation faster than pain. Therefore, using a fast acting pain-relieving gel during and after massage therapy will continue to interrupt the slower moving pain-muscle spasm signal even hours after the initial benefit of the massage.

When muscle spasm is reduced, joint movement improves. Improved joint movement produces increased endorphins, which reduce pain naturally. It is recommended to apply the gel both at the local site of the problem and at distant non-involved areas for maximum pain relief. Recommending and making a pain reliever available for home use is also an important part of your client care. Depending on the condition, your clients still deal with ongoing pain and discomfort in their daily lives. Providing them with the products and tools to encourage self-care between treatments builds a loyalty, trust and bond that are vital to their wellness and your practice. Good Luck Alice!

Perry can be reached at .

Lynda Solien-Wolfe is Vice President, Massage and Spa at Performance Health. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has been in private practice in Merritt Island, Florida for more than 20 years. Lynda graduated from Space Coast Health Institute in West Melbourne, FL.


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