Ain’t No One Gonna Do It For You!

There’s something you should know.  The health you’ve lost, the health you’ve been looking for, is still there.  You just have to reach out and get it.  Just about anyone has the potential to live a long healthy life as long as they invest a little bit of time in themselves and do the work required to stay healthy.  But therein lies the conundrum.  Are you willing to work for it?  Are you willing to do what’s necessary to recover your health?  Are you even interested?  Or is it too much of a bother?

I once heard the great speaker Les Brown say, “The hardest part is getting the person to be an active participant in their own recovery.”  It’s so true and one of the most succinct observations about the state of America’s health, especially nowadays. People want health handed to them.  They want the benefits of good health, the energy, sleep, strength, and ability to enjoy life, but don’t want to do the work to get it.  So, they suffer through life with symptoms, making excuses for their bad health and habits, all the while passing up opportunity after opportunity to improve their lives and enjoy life.  Instead, they rely on pills to take the pain away, give them the energy they’ve lost, and even keep them alive.  I’ve even had patients in my office outright refuse to exercise, even when they know how much better they’ll feel.  So, I guess they prefer to suffer through the pain and disease potential, unwilling to make the simple changes required to get their health back and keep it.

Nothing in life is easy.  If you want a big house, you have to work for it.  If you want a happy marriage, it takes commitment.  If you want to live the dream, you have to invest in yourself.  So, why should health be any different?  I’m not sure why, but many people seem to have a separate set of rules for their well-being, a complete contradiction leading to their own destruction.

One of the things experience teaches is that anything worth having requires hard work.  Well, health is probably your greatest asset.  Your health is your wealth, as they say.  After all, if you had to put a dollar amount on the human body, if you actually had to pay to buy a new one, how much would it cost?  Millions?  Maybe more?  The problem is, you only get a single shot at this life and even a billionaire can’t buy new one.  Just ask Steve Jobs.

Sadly, we’re sold the lie during our lives that illness is inevitable and we’ve swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker.   We’ve been told that sickness is just an inevitable form of aging and there’s nothing you can do, that disease is just part of life.  “It’s just normal for your age,” is what they say.  Well, sickness is never normal.  Isn’t that the definition of disease, anyways?

Look at high blood pressure for example.  You can go 40 or more years without blood pressure issues then Boom! – hypertension.  So, you make the excuses that, “It runs in my family.  It’s genetic.”  The problem is, your genes are the same at 39 as they are at 40, so how do genetics explain that?  Is there a specific gene that codes for hypertension at 40?  Is it magic?  The answer is no.  You did this to yourself.

I encourage you to start taking responsibility for your health, before it’s too late.  Stop expecting it to come easily.  Stop waiting for some magic pill to improve your health or some chemical to ease your burdens.  Stop waiting for health to be handed to you on a gilded platter.  Stop waiting for external solution to an internal problem.  Worse, stop just waiting for the “inevitable.”  Get off your butt. Make the time.  Change your lifestyle. Do the work and collect your reward.  A small investment of effort now is much less costly than a lifetime of regret.

Remember, your health potential is still out there.  You just have to reach out and grab it.  I’ll say again, YOU have to reach out and grab it.  Being healthy isn’t a matter of luck or fate.  It’s a choice.  But you have to decide to become an active participant in your health.  You have to choose to be healthy, invest in yourself, and do the work.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 

Be well.

Are You In The Right Office?

A common question I frequently ask my patients is:  Are the people you’re trusting with your healthcare decisions really a ‘healthcare’ provider?  Seems like a pretty simple question, right?  The problem is that we’re living in a day and age where the lines between ‘healthcare’ and ‘disease management’ are terribly blurred.

For example, on my case history form, I have a section that asks:

What medications(s) are you currently taking?

Then, it asks about their vitamins and is followed by a question that asks:

How would you describe your overall health?     Excellent     Good     Fair     Poor

I’ve been in practice for nearly two decades and it still surprises me to see patients who may take a half dozen or more medications (and no vitamins btw) but describe their health as “Excellent.”  Why?  Because the commercials on TV tell them that if they want to be healthy, they have to take this or that medication.  Because the people that they trust tell them that if they don’t take the medication, they won’t stay healthy.  The problem with both scenarios is that medications are not vitamins.  Whether helping to marginalize your symptoms or not, they’re still toxic and have side effects.  Further, I propose that if you are taking medications, prescription or otherwise, to manage a chronic illness, you’re definitely not in “Excellent” health.  A healthy person doesn’t need medication.

Nowadays, advertising has sold you on the notion that medicine is health.  It’s not.  Medicine is disease management and disease management is not the same thing as healthcare.  Now, I’ll be clear.  Modern medicine is a marvel of crisis care and intervention saving countless lives every year.  But you have to understand that it really stinks for chronic illness.  That’s why so many chronic illnesses are on the rise like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, despite miraculous advances in medicine and technology.  The interventions we turn to in these illnesses just aren’t helping us to become healthier.

So, how do you know the difference between the two?  Here are a few clues:

You develop some sort of symptom and go to your doctor.  Your doctor performs all the tests, as appropriate, to determine the nature of your issue.  If he/she then:

 

  1. Gives you a pill (Disease Management). This is symptom control.  The pill does nothing to necessarily improve your health but it does at least manage your symptoms enough to make you comfortable and/or prevent you from becoming sicker or even dying.  That being said, all medications are toxic and have variability of side effects.  So, while you’re directly managing the symptoms of your disease, you may actually be compromising your general health in the long run.  So many meds are tough on your liver, kidneys, digestive system, heart, nervous system…etc.  Not only that, many medications breed dependency, meaning that if you take it long enough your own body chemistry may never recover.
  2. Hooks you up to some sort of gadget or gizmo (Disease Management). I run a chiropractic office and we routinely use passive therapies like electrical muscle stimulation and ultrasound to help decrease a patient’s pain.  But this type of intervention is also not healthcare.  It’s pain control.  It’s disease management.  A TENS unit, on its own, does nothing to improve your general health.  It just temporarily covers up your symptoms.  The same can be said for back braces, orthotics, and even hot packs.
  3. Tells you it’s “normal” for your age (Disease Management). Now, this is a total cop-out.  Not only is it false in too many cases, it steals a patients hope and gives them a crutch to justify their illness.  Your body is designed to be healthy.  It will fight with every fiber and molecule of your being to resist disease and stay alive.  So, at what point does “dis-ease” become normal?  Always be wary of anyone who tells you that.  In many cases, what it really means is:
    1. “I see this a lot but don’t have much experience with helping people with it.”
    2. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. (Here’s an antidepressant.)”
    3. “I don’t know if a referral will help.”
    4. “I’m too busy to help you fix it.”
  4. “Pops” your back when you’re in pain (Disease Management). As a chiropractor, this one also strikes particularly close to home and so many of my peers operate their offices this way:  “Just give me a call when you’re have problems again.”  Seriously?  I thought as chiropractic physicians, our mission was to educate and keep the patient healthy, not just pick up the pieces after everything falls apart.  We should not be mimicking a failing model of disease management and you should expect more from your chiropractor.
  5. “Pops” your back when you’re doing well (Healthcare). Chiropractic care has been shown to help improve a patient’s health above and beyond just pain management.  The problem is that most patients who see a chiropractor for pain don’t maintain their alignment and functionality after the pain subsides.  How can you expect to be at maximum health when your pain levels are never truly stable?  You can’t have consistent health when your pain is in flux.  My experience has shown me that the patient gets the most health benefits from adjusting once they are out of pain.  And, ironically, it’s much easier to keep a person well than get them well.
  6. Tries to help you make meaningful lifestyle changes (Healthcare). Maintaining and restoring health is not mystery.  It’s largely about the choices you make, good or bad.  Truthfully, most people know what they need to do to stay healthy, but they still fail.  Why?  Because becoming sick is easy.  Anyone can do it.  But not everyone will stay healthy.  Additionally, most people don’t have a support system and they’re turning to the wrong people for healthcare advice.  Too many people turn to a disease management provider for healthcare advice.  That’s like asking an electrician about why your sink is backed up.  Listen, I’ve said it before.  Maintaining optimum health is about 6 things: Proper Diet, Exercise, Stress Management, Proper Sleep Habits, Limiting Toxic Exposure, and Healthy Nervous System Function.  But, you may not know how to do those things well.  You need a healthcare provider.  You need a coach.

If all you’re getting from your doctor is a pill or procedure and you’re trying to get your health back, I hate to break it to you: you’re in the wrong office.  If, however, your provider is spending time with you to council you on better nutrition, help you with exercising better, and work with you to better your lifestyle, then you’re on the right track and in the right place.  Think about it.  Almost all of us have a disease management provider, but how many of us have a healthcare provider?  If you can find a good one, you may even surprise yourself at how healthy you can become.

What Would A Caveman Do?

After nearly two decades in practice, you start to notice some common themes and, among them, certain questions that are shared by large portions of the population.  One, in particular, is a broad sweeping question that I’m asked quite a lot:  What do I need to do to stay healthy?

Sounds simple right?  Well maybe not so much.  We live in the Information Age with nearly limitless amounts of good and bad advice from nearly limitless sources.  One person will stay do this and you’ll be healthy but then another article will completely contradict it.  And it’s not just relegated to opinions on health.  There are even plentiful examples of research that contradicts other research, studies that are completely contradictory.  So, who’s right?

A person could spend an entire lifetime trying to sort through all the good, bad, and misleading information out there and still be confused.  Consequently, I try to keep health easy to understand for my patients and this is what I ask them: How did our ancestors live?

I mean, think about it.  Were we really designed to sit at a computer all day, munching on processed bags of food?  Were we built to endure near constant stress in an artificial environment?  If you really consider today’s lifestyle, it’s no wonder chronic illness is on the rise.  We don’t exercise like we should, we eat a lot of garbage, our stress is ridiculous, we’re too busy, and we’re literally bathed in toxins every day.

Now, every day patients will ask me, do I do this or that?  Do I eat this or that?  Is this good for me?  Is that bad for me?  And, so on.  My response will generally be, what would a caveman do?  After all, that’s what we are.  We’re hunter gatherers, designed to roam the land hunting for food, water and shelter.  We’re designed to get 12-16 hours of exercise every day.  We’re built to eat real whole foods.  We’re meant to live free of the human zoo we’ve created for ourselves.

Look at tribal cultures around the world.  Do they suffer from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity like we do in more developed countries?  No way!  Granted, in many of those places, infectious disease and traumatic death is much higher, but if you’re lucky enough to make it to old age, you’ll live a fuller healthier life.  Accordingly, how can we, as members of a highly developed country without the threat of environmentally caused death, ignore the huge potential we have for a longer, healthier, more satisfying life?  Why do so many take our health for granted and just accept illness as the inevitability of aging?  The answer is simple.  We’ve set up too many barriers between us and our genetically programmed, natural lifestyle requirements and our herd mentality falls for the lie that illness is normal.

Here’s a news flash.  Your body’s not designed to be sick.  It’s designed to be healthy.  In fact, it fights with every molecule of your being to be healthy and resist disease…if you’ll help it along.  Go out and get some fresh air.  Stop eating your food out of a bag.  Break away from your desk and get on your feet.  Take on the world like the alpha predator you were destined to be, not the lapdog that chains your seat.  Being healthy isn’t magical and becoming sick isn’t a mystery.  If you make better choices, you get better results.

So, the next time you wonder about which choice about your health is best, ask yourself:  What would a caveman do?

The 5 Things That Prevented You From Being Healthy Last Year (And How To Change That)

Like most people last year, you probably made resolutions.  You started with the best of intentions, you wanted to be healthier, lose weight, be happier, but by March you had probably slipped back into your old habits.  So what happened?

Like so many, you like became the victim of your routine, the rut that you’ve carved for yourself that you just can’t seem to climb out of.  They say that there is comfort in a rut because the route is predictable and you can feel both sides.  Albert Einstein, however, argues otherwise, noting “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So is this the year you are going to do something different?  Are you going to break out of your rut into something new?

Frankly, cemeteries and hospitals are full of people who were “too busy” or “not interested” in changing.  Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?  Because of the inability to adapt.  While you may live the illusion that your life is stationary, in fact it’s changing all the time.  You are not the same person now that you were last year, last month, or even last week.  The box that you’ve created for yourself is just an illusion of stability.

So, what’s holding you back?  Why are you so afraid of change?

1.  Time – Lack of time is an illusion.  While many people may claim to not have enough time to modify their lifestyle, in reality it is more of an issue of not setting aside time to change the lifestyle that seems to control them.  In other words, you must control your life, not the other way around.  While, at times, it may seem that you life is always out of control, this too is an illusion.  Ultimately, your lifestyle is determined by the decisions you make and your priorities.  For example, many patients in our office claim they are too busy to exercise or don’t have time to get adjusted.  The truth of the matter is, however, these things are just not a priority.  Going to happy hour with their friends or watching their favorite show or having time to relax is just more important.  Does that make it wrong?  No!  It just means that exercise and health are not a priority.

You have the same amount of time as everyone else.  Why is it, then, that it seems like other people are so productive or can get so much done in a day.  The answer is time management and priorities.  Maybe, for them, exercise is more important.  Or, maybe they have become more adept at managing their time.  Either way, they are in full control of their time and its effects.  Be it for better or worse, so are you.

2.  Money – One of the biggest misunderstandings about health is that being healthy is expensive.  Sure, having a personal trainer and buying all organic foods can have quite a price tag, but you might be  surprised at how inexpensive health is.  You don’t need a trainer or fancy gym membership.  You don’t have to eat unusual foods that you can’t pronounce, but you do have to eat food.

Back in the day, there were no gyms or gym membership.  People got their exercise by living life.  Admittedly nowadays, people are more sedentary than ever.  With more service professions, televisions, computers, and telephones, we are becoming more inactive with each year.

The good news is that the outdoors are still there.  You can still go for walks or ride a bike.  Can’t afford weights?  Make a “poor-man’s weight set” out of some old milk cartons (a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds).  Or, use cans of food.  Gravity is also a form of resistance.  Calisthenics, such as jumping jacks and push ups rely on gravity as a resistive force.  Both are also free.

If you’re trying to eat healthier, fruits and vegetables are a lot cheaper than processed versions of the same and are definitely better than the frozen preserved foods on grocery store shelves.  Now, certified organic foods will cost more than other foods in the supermarket, but there are many inexpensive natural ways that you can research online to remove many of the chemicals used to treat our food.

When it comes down to it in the end, being healthy is a lot cheaper than being sick.

3. Ability – I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why a person can’t make the lifestyle changes necessary to change their life.  Having worked with thousands of patients over the years, one truth consistently proves itself over and over again.  The only person standing in your way is you.

So many people suffer from pain or some form of disability that they feel prevents them from exercising.  In all my years working with the public, I don’t think I’ve ever run across a patient that can’t exercise and I’ve never seen a person that can’t make better choices.  You need to get control if yourself.  You need to take charge of the decisions that you make or live with the consequences of the your bad decisions.

Can’t exercise?  Baloney!  You just need to find an exercise that you can do.  If you can’t run,walk.  If you can’t walk, bike.  If you can’t bike find a pool, or do seated exercises, or even exercises in bed.  You have to move.  It’s what your body is built to do.

4. Drive – I can honestly say that you are probably no different than everyone else.  Most people don’t like to exercise.  There’s a reason that only about 25% of people have a regular exercise regimen.  There is also a reason that only about 2% of people are actually consistent with their exercise routine.  You are not alone.  That being said, there is a significant statistical difference in health between people who exercise and eat well versus those who don’t.  Simply put, people who exercise and make better choices tend to live longer and better.

You control your destiny and illness is not an accident.  The choices you make now good or bad will have a significant impact on your health later in life.  In this era of instant gratification, it’s sometimes difficult to see the end of the game while you are still playing, but you have to think of health as an investment.  Small deposits now can yield a much larger return later.  While your friends are falling to illness and infirmity, you are still chugging right along because you chose, even though you hated every minute of it, to make an investment in your health.  Is that enough drive for you?

5. Fear – What have you got to lose?  Weight, inches, risk for disease?  Or, are you more concerned about time, money, and change?  Many people are so afraid of losing their quality of life now that they give no thought to the quality of life they will lose later unless they change now.  Is fear of change holding you back?  They say that the one constant in the universe is change.  Every day you are getting older.  Every day you have new stresses, new challenges, new opportunities.  How can you hope to stay healthy in a changing world if you are too afraid to adapt.

Are you afraid of failing?  Thomas Edison once said about inventing the light bulb, “I haven’t failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Life is about failure.  Growth comes from failure.  You learn from failure and can look at it as either in the way or on the way.  The choice is yours.  How much potential for growth and change is your fear costing you?  Great things come from great changes.  You just need to find it within yourself to make the changes necessary, even if you may not like them or they may make you uncomfortable.  I would think that the greatest fear would be knowing that you can become healthier but not doing enough to realize the possibility.

 

Get out of your own way.  Ultimately, health is a choice.  First, you have to decide to be healthy.  Then you have to formulate a plan.  As they say, no plan is a plan to fail.  You can’t build a house or win a war without a plan.  You need a plan.   So, here are some recommendations to help you realize health success:

1.  Begin with the end in mind – You need a goal or goals.  Be realistic with them.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and losing 10lbs. a week just isn’t realist or even healthy.  The more realistic your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them, which fuels additional drive for success.

2.  Create a plan – Your plan should include your goals and a step by step approach to achieve them.

3.  Do your own research – You’d be surprised how many of people you may trust with your health and health decisions may not be giving you health advice but, rather, disease management advice.  You may also be surprised that some of the “health” advice you are getting may actually be unhealthy and just downright wrong.

4.  Don’t be afraid to try new things – Often, you’ll find a solution in the least likely of places.

5.  Find an exercise that you love – The number one person to sabotage your exercise is you and the most successful exercise you will ever do is the one you will actually do consistently.  Working out should not be a punishment.  It should be fun.  If you resent working out, you have not found the right workout for you.  It’s out there.  Keep looking until you find it.

6.  Don’t make too many changes to fast – Improving your health is about lifestyle change.  That being said, too much rapid change becomes a punishment, and no one likes to be punished.   Make smaller changes over time.  Begin by adding things (reward) rather than taking things away (punishment).

7.  Don’t feel like you have to live in a bubble (punishment) – Even a dietician cheats from time to time.  Even a personal trainer skips a few days working out.  The difference between a healthy person and an unhealthy person is about consistency.  Are you consistently eating cake or carrots?  Are you consistently exercising regularly or have you taken the past few months off?  You can still enjoy life.  Just be more moderate with your indulgences.

8.  Be consistent – Consistency breeds results.  So-so habits, so-so results.  Excellent habits, excellent results.  Don’t ever give up.  Being healthy is a journey, not a destination, that requires time, consistent work, and patience.

 

You can be healthy this year, if you put yourself to it.  If you require additional assistance in being well, do your research and find a health partner you trust to guide you back on to the road to health.  The path to wellness changes very little.  You just have to decide to get back on the path.  Be well.

I’m Just A Chiropractor. What Do I Know?

When you’ve worked with thousands of patients over the years you learn a few things. Of course you learn to care for people and you learn what people expect from their care. You learn to satisfy expectations and figure out how to address even complicated cases. Unfortunately, you also learn the low opinions other healthcare professions have for chiropractic adjusting and I’ve been accused many times of not being a “real doctor.”
Well if not being a “real doctor” means helping my patients through their pain, improving their function, stabilizing their condition, and improving their health, then I’m guilty as charged. I’d rather not be a “real doctor” if the only solution I could offer my patients was a pill. In our office, a large number of our patient’s health actually improves. They sleep better, have more energy, don’t get sick like their friends, and their pain starts to go away, all without the addition of chemical pills or potions. They heal themselves.
Now, when a patient enters our office they have several choices. They can rely on my experience to improve their health and generally get the results they are looking for. They can write their own plan and allow their own excuses and preconceived notions to limit their improvement. Or, they can reject chiropractic care altogether and just live with the symptoms and diseases for which they are suffering as if they are inevitable permanent. After all, it’s normal for your age, right? My experience has shown me that the level of improvement that a patient experiences is directly proportional to their ability to trust in my 16 years of experience and let go of the misconceptions and outright incorrect information that has been programmed into their brains.
So, what have I learned? Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
1. Health is normal. Disease is abnormal. Health is health and disease is disease. Healthcare, therefore improves health. Disease management does exactly that: it manages the symptoms of a disease. Disease management does not restore health and disease management is not healthcare.
2. Your body can heal itself. Period.
3. Chiropractic care is not medical care and does not follow a medical treatment model. Don’t expect medical care in a chiropractic office.
4. The nervous system is the circuitry for the body. It controls every cell, tissue, and organ either directly or indirectly.
5. It is impossible to be truly healthy with a corrupted nervous system.
6. There are three types of stress – Traumas, Toxins, and thoughts.
7. Stress contributes to subluxations (misalignments) in the spine.  These misalignments of the spine can decrease nerve function and lead to disease.
8. There is no magic bullet. Most people develop symptoms of their disease, from back pain to high blood pressure, over a series of time. There is no such thing as an instant cure.
9. Healing takes time. You have to allow the innate healing processes inside your body to health the defective tissue.
10. Health does not come from a bottle. Medication does not make you healthy. It only suppresses your symptoms. Health comes from healthy choices over time.
11. Consistency Breeds results. Becoming healthy and staying that way is about mastering habits. Habits become behaviors and behaviors improve health.
12. Your ability to heal depends on several factors:
a. Your particular problem
b. Your age and general health
c. Your habits, good or bad
d. Your attitude
e. Your stress level
f. Consistency
13. There are six fundamental requirements to stay healthy:
a. Adequate exercise (30 minutes, 3 times a week is NOT adequate)
b. Proper Diet (Nowadays supplementing with vitamins is critical)
c. Stress management
d. Proper sleep habits
e. Avoiding toxic exposure (Toxins are EVERYWHERE)
f. Maintain the health of your spine
14. Most people don’t do any of the six fundamentals. Then, they are surprised when they get sick.
15. You need to trust in your body’s ability to heal. Your body can heal itself from even massive assault. Almost every acute or chronic injury has an example of a miraculous recovery, especially when adequate lifestyle changes are employed.
16. The number one thing that sabotages a person’s ability to heal is the person.
17. Number two is following bad advice from other people who don’t know.
18. Number three is doubt.
19. You have more power than you know.
20. The decision to be healthy or sick is yours.
It’s time for you to become an active participant in your own recovery. You have a nearly limitless ability to heal if you’re willing to change your habits and open your mind. But, who am I to say. I’m just a chiropractor after all. What do I know?

Kinesiotaping: Managing Your Pain Like A Pro

One of the latest trends in healthcare over recent years has been the use of kinesiotape for managing pain and injuries. Professional and amateur athletes alike are turning to the tape in increasing numbers to help manage soreness in muscles and joints as well as accelerate healing.

Not familiar with kinesiotape? You should be. It’s an excellent alternative to potentially risky medications for the management of acute and chronic pain. It can be used on just about any part of the body and risks of any side effects are fairly low.   It doesn’t contain any medication and can be effective for a broad range of conditions, from sprains and strains to arthritic pain.

Kinesiotape is, basically, just a cloth tape with a skin adhesive. Unlike a traditional athletic tape, kinesiotape does not restrict movement but, instead, moves with your body. Full range of motion is still possible with application of the tape. The skin over the affected area now works with the kinesiotape to help improve function in an affected area and decrease pain. How does it work? Well there are several theories:

  1. Improved proprioception – Now, this is one of those fancy health terms but, basically, the tape improves your body’s ability to sense and respond to the environment. Applying the tape to the skin acts as a minor stimulus to heighten the sensitivity of the soft tissues to movement (improved proprioception).   Increased soft tissue sensation allows the body to respond and adapt to stress better, including additional stresses to the joints and tissues. It will also decrease the likelihood of additional injury.
  2. Lifting the skin off the affected area – In many instances, the inflammatory processes that produce pain lie below the skin. When taped properly, contraction of the kinesiotape will help to lift skin off the affected area and decrease pressure of more superficial tissues on the affected area, leading to decrease deep tissue irritation.
  3. Improved circulation – As you move the tape expands and contracts with the skin according to your movement. This will help pump new blood supply into the area and encourage a decrease in swelling. The tape improve oxygenated blood supply to the area but also increase vein activity to draw fluid, including swelling, away from the affected area. Improved circulation will also decrease muscle spasming and will bring in immune cells to help repair the damaged tissues.
  4. Improved lymphatic flow – Your lymphatic system is you “other circulatory system.” Consisting of a series of vessels and lymph nodes distributed around the body, your lymphatic system helps to remove cellular waste from the tissues, including lactic acid which can cause pain. Like your veins, the lymphatic system requires movement to accomplish lymphatic flow. Kinesiotaping helps to improve lymphatic flow, drawing inflammatory products away from the injured area. Additionally, because the lymphatic system is a critical component of the immune system, improved lymphatic flow will improve the body’s ability to heal.
  5. Gate theory – Most patients with chronic pain are familiar with a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit. A tens unit works by electrically stimulating mechanical nerve receptors for the tissues and joints. By stimulating those receptors, you can trick nervous system into paying less attention to pain sensitive nerves (nociceptors). In a similar fashion, kinesiotepe stimulates these receptors mechanically, desensitizing the pain sensitive portion of the nervous system.
  6. Shifted load – Because kinesiotape is an elastic tape, taping over the area will shift some of the physical stress load off the soft tissues and onto the tape. While it is not generally intended to restrict movement, the tape does have some bracing effect by supplementing your soft tissues.
  7. Mobility reatraining – The Tape can be applied in such a way as to retrain a joint to move and function differently according to how the tape is a applied.   Accomplishing this may require additional training by the person applying the kinesiotape.

While taping is not generally indicated for joint restriction, there are some instances where you can accomplish stability with kinesiotape, including taping the shoulder blade into position or taping an extremity joint to minimize motion, such as an ankle or wrist.

Will kinesiotape replace physical therapy or chiropractic care? No. The tape is simply a tool used to improve a soft tissue’s ability to function while managing pain. In many cases, rehabilitative care is still necessary and taping will not substitute for spinal adjusting, exercise therapy or practical prevention. Kinesiotaping is a low tech simple approach to managing pain without harmful chemical side effects of medications.

There are some contraindications to taping. This includes taping over a rash or skin irritation, application over a sun burn, open wounds, specific contraindications to bracing, and in patients who have sensitivities to adhesive bandages. Out of the hundreds of patients to whom I’ve applied tape, I’ve only seen a few patients with any negative reaction to the tape at all, generally a mild skin irritation. That being said, kinesiotape is an excellent choice for the following applications:

  1. Neck and back injuries
  2. Shoulder injuries
  3. Knee injuries
  4. Sprained ankles
  5. Joint swelling
  6. Muscle tightness
  7. Joint stiffness
  8. Point tenderness
  9. Trigger points
  10. Scoliosis

The tape can be left in place for up to 10 days. You can shower and swim with it. Just be sure not to rub it dry as it may rub off the tape. Occasionally, some residual adhesive may remain on the skin when the tape is removed. Baby oil is a simple solution to remove any residual. You may experience some itching with the tape but my experience has been it is more due to improved circulation than any allergic reaction. Again, negative reactions to the tape are extremely rare.

Before kinesiotaping, I would recommend a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider who works extensively with musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, to rule out serious issues that may require more intensive intervention. This is especially important in conditions that don’t improve or are worsening, pain that does not respond to kinesiotaping or medication, pain at night, or excruciating pain. Kinesiotaping is not intended to substitute for evaluation or adequate rehabilitative care for a serious injury.

Kinesiotaping is safe for most adults and children, including the elderly.   In my office, I’ve used it effectively on kids with sprained ankles and seniors with knee swelling. It’s also excellent for tightness in the shoulders and low back pain. To be most effective, it does take some training to apply properly. There is a bit of an art-form to the taping procedure. I would recommend working with a healthcare provider who has the expertise and training to properly apply the tape for therapeutic benefit.

If you are an athlete, have a regular workout, suffer from chronic pain, or have recently had a sprain type injury, kinesiotaping may be an excellent way to help manage your condition and accelerate your recovery. Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting taped!