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bullshit barometer

It comes from Japan, they are beige, so this was the first colour

--Our instructor on the colours of the tape

Last week I went to a Kinesio-taping course. I had actually looked forward to it, taping had already interested me, but a few slides into the presentation my inner alarms started ringing in earnest. Physiotherapy is unfortunately very prone to in-cooperating unfounded treatment methods. There are constant new and exciting ways to think about movement and the body in general. There is also a lot of bs out there. To not completely waste my time in this seminar, I started noting down every bs indicator I encountered during the lecture. It ended up being a checklist of things to watch out for.

  1. We can treat anything! Just like the snake oil of old, therapies promising to treat everything should be met with a raised eyebrow. Often, like chiropractics they started out as a specific treatment and then branched out into every direction, coming up with increasingly ridiculous theories on why this treatment would work in a completely different structure than the one treated. Others make their life easier by claiming to target "energy" or by adapting believes on how the body functions to the therapy. See the next point.

  2. One structure to rule them all. Here we make up theories on why our therapy is so universally helpful. For chiropractics every condition is due to misalignment in the spine. Craniosacral therapy blames everything on the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. In Kinesio-taping the fascia (the connective tissue between muscles, ligaments, skin etc) is to blame for any problem you might have.

  3. Only my therapist understands what is wrong with me. The above leads to a lot of over-complication of simple conditions. Suddenly the patient must sit through half an hour of presentation to understand his head ache. And as the problem is soooo complicated, not every one can treat it (especially not the patient themselves!). Patient dependency on the therapist is a lucrative side effect here.

  4. Scary words. A lot of the theories lead to mundane problems (say back pain) being labeled with words used for actual serious problems. The patient is told that the joints in the spine are out of alignment (if that were true he'd be paralyzed), nerves are impinged, something is wrong with the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid (no, then you'd be somewhere close to death, see meningitis) or "there is an instability". There is a whole body of research out there how use of scary words can lead to chronification of a relatively benign problem. Lucrative as well, I guess.

  5. Gurus! There is one person who made the amazing discovery on how this structure is the key to life the universe and everything and his word is gospel. McKenzie suffered from this, but they are moving in the direction of research. To be honest the same seems to be true for Kinesio-taping. A quick search on pubmed did not reveal any trials or even meta-analysis which could back up their "better then" claims, but I did not search for long and might be proven wrong down if I actually look closer.

  6. Simply the best. Oh what tales we told. Of the impossible patient who had tried it all and could suddenly walk. How enlightened our methods are while the conservative treatments are stuck in the dark ages. My advise: unless backed up by research these tales are only stories used in a sales pitch and should be treated as such.

  7. Trademarks Nordic walking, Masai shoes, Kinesio-tape, there is a huge market for health products. Kinesio-tape actually donated a lot of tape to the 2008 Olympics and then used the use of the tape during the Olympics for advertisement purposes. People are trying to sell you their product, which is ok, but be aware of it.

Posted on - Categories: Physio

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