White and colored ribbons, whether they’re elastic or not, or adhesives or not, are present in the offices of physio-therapists and now it is not so rare to see them on professional athletes, but amateur ones as well. They are bands, in some cases similar to large patches, used for different purposes: «There are different bandage techniques with different purposes, from prevention to rehabilitation. Each of them is appropriate if used in a manner relevant to the purpose for which it is intended», adds Dr. Lara Castagnetti, osteopath and specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Humanitas.
With bandages, you can for example protect an unstable ankle to avoid distortion, or you can use them to manage pain, or for the effect that it has on posture and balance. There are several places on which it is used: from the wrist to the ankle, from the knee to the hands, up to the shoulders.
The functional bandage
The preventive purpose is prerogative of the functional bandage, an immobilization technique used to facilitate the return to physical activity after an injury. It can be used to protect athletes by supporting musculo-skeletal structures and reducing swelling: «The functional bandage protects the district in case of acute injuries in order to assist or limit the excessive movement of a joint and protect it from further injury. It is therefore effective in limiting joint excursion», explains Dr. Castagnetti.
This is performed «by applying a non-elastic high-strength white tape and an elastic tape», continues the specialist. However, the functional bandage has a limited therapeutic purpose: «It does not give proprioceptive stimuli and is just a support tape used to allow an injured athlete, when possible, to perform a performance after suffering an injury».
Prevention and rehabilitation
In the presence of muscular pain, for example, other forms of bandaging are used, such as Kinesio Taping and McConnell taping. The first, the one done with large coloured patches, is «an elastic bandage-based therapeutic method, that allows the treatment of all clinical conditions in the acute, subacute, chronic, rehabilitative and even preventive phases. For example, it is used in cases of cervicalgia or for injuries to the muscles of the rotator cuff».
The second was invented by an Australian physiotherapist: «It is a support tape used mainly for femoral-patellar dysfunctions and shoulder dislocations. It consists of a rigid brown tape applied on a white net ribbon. It is effective for providing external support or a position stimulus. As it could give skin reactions, it can only be worn for a limited period of time», concludes the specialist.