The Value of Using Elastic Kinesiology Tape in Equine Training Programs
by Dr. Bev Gordon for theHorseinMotion.com
Elastic kinesiology taping has been popular in human athletics for many years, but its popularity has been
markedly on the rise since the 2012 Summer Olympics, where many Olympians were seen wearing it during
their competitions. Its proven success has led forward-thinking equine professionals to consider its use in equine health care and training programs, where they are witnessing firsthand its clinical benefits.
What is it?
Equi-Taping, the modality named for using elastic kinesiology tape on horses, employs the tape to enhance
training outcomes, and, therefore, positively influence the potential performance of equine athletes. Equi-Taping
method uses the tape’s unique properties of stretch and recoil to effect function of the musculoskeletal and
vascular systems of the body. The tape has no medication on it, and adheres by a medical grade non-latex
adhesive. Its clinical success is based upon how the tape is applied, specifically, the technique used for the
application. The amount of stretch, the pattern and direction for laying down the tape determine the physiological effects achieved.
Why use it?
Some of the benefits derived from Equi-Taping include decreasing pain and inflammation, decrease recovery
time, support joints and assist muscles during activity, as well as increase circulation, and relax tight hypertonic
muscles. The tape is unique and differs from traditional athletic tape in that it does not restrict movement and
does not compress tissue. The tape supports joints and muscles while allowing full range of motion, and actually
acts to decompress tissue which decreases pressure on pain receptors and allows for an increase in circulating
blood and lymph flow. The application and theory of elastic kinesiology taping for use on horses is based upon our current knowledge and clinical success in the human field.
How does it work?
It is noteworthy to mention that when used as part of an athletic training program, elastic kinesiology tape
applied to healthy tissue can be used to support joints, ligaments, and tendons, as well as assist muscles in
training. This type of application works preventatively to help horses train harder, recover more quickly, and prevent injury.
Effects of the tape are based upon its interaction with the skin, its ability to stretch and recoil, and particularly its
decompressive nature which increases circulation to working muscles. This is a key factor regarding its use in
training programs. Simply stated, muscles in training need oxygen (along with other components made available
in the circulating blood) to produce the energy necessary for work. In the absence of oxygen, the working
capacity of the muscles decreases, and the body builds up by-products which are toxic to muscles. These end
products of anaerobic muscle activity are responsible for muscle fatigue, as well as soreness after exertion.
Increasing blood flow to working muscles increases the available oxygen necessary for work, thereby increasing
muscle work capacity. Increased circulation also plays a major role in removal of these toxins and speeding recovery time.
In this photo of a human taping for severe bruising, you can observe the decompressive nature of the tape and its subsequent ability to increase circulation and speed recovery.
Use in training programs-
The tape’s unique property of stretch and recoil aids muscles in contraction during work and helps decrease
early fatigue. Additionally, the tape can support joints and assist them in returning to neutral position. One of the
major benefits of using the tape during training is its ability to support a joint while allowing for full range of
motion, thereby assisting joint movement rather than restricting it. Examples of common athletic training
applications include assisting gluteal, back or neck muscles in horses who are training for competition, use in
warm-up in preparation for competition, and use as support on ankle joint and lower leg tendons/ligaments to prevent unsoundness. Taping can be beneficial to horses of all disciplines.
Including the use of Equi-Taping in equine athletic training programs can encourage greater working capacity of
the muscles, and offer support, which in turn can improve the effects of training. Pictured in this photo is an example of an Equi-Taping application for Gluteal Medius/Hind End Muscle Assist.
Common uses by trainers and professionals, which are often included in training programs, would be:
•Assist hard working, over-used or weaker muscles in training
•Use for horses moving up a level in training, or returning to training after rest to decrease soreness and speed recovery times (i.e., hind
end or back muscles)
•Support joints/ligaments/and tendons through their full range of motion (i.e., ankle joint)
•Prevent future injury, especially on tissue previously injured (i.e.,
suspensory ligament or DDF)
Equi-Taping is growing in popularity as it is proving to be an effective modality when included in equine training
programs. As with most modalities, the success of its use is directly related to proper assessment, application
and technique. While trainers and horse owners can easily learn to use the tape in their training programs, it is
highly recommended that lay people consult certified Equi-Taping practitioners to determine the best taping application for their horse.
For more information on Equi-Taping, visit Equi-tape.com
Dr. Bev Gordon - The Horse In Motion, Inc. thehorseinmotion.com
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