You may have noticed different colored tape on athletes in the last summer Olympics. This magic tape is used to help support muscles, relieve strained tendons, improve body alignment and promote healing by stimulating blood flow.
Musicians are athletes too. Our movements may be smaller but they are similarly repetitive and at times result in strain and damage. While tape may not be the cure all, it is a fantastic tool to add to your musical health and wellness toolbox.
Note that I am not a physician. Please consult a doctor for accurate injury diagnosis and treatment. Tape is best applied with the help of a trained physical therapist. And no, I am not endorsed by these brands. Just a satisfied customer.
KT Tape has been my favorite brand for a couple reasons: the material is more breathable and it can retain its strength for 3-4 days unlike some other 100% cotton options. Rock Tape is another brand that deserves notable mention.
Taping Techniques for Oboists
1) Tape can be used to alleviate carpal tunnel distress. The application of tape improves blood flow through the wrist joint, lifts pressure off the median nerve, and supports the carpal ligament. A combination of massage, stretching and taping in early stages of carpal tunnel can alleviate symptoms and help musicians avoid more severe damage and invasive surgery.
Note: The tape has a difficult time sticking to the skin in the palm of the hand. To avoid this issue, clean the surface of the skin with rubbing alcohol before applying tape and cut finger holes in the tape so it can wrap around to the other side of the hand.
Visit this page for a video tutorial on taping for carpal tunnel.
2) Tennis Elbow is an RSI tendinitis triggered by repetitive gripping between the thumb and first two fingers. The swollen tendons manifest pain through the top of the forearm in a diagonal from the thumb to the elbow, at the knob on the elbow where the tendons attach to the bone, and up the back of the arm. Along with massage and rest, taping can help relieve strain on the tendons and wrist extensors. As before, clean the surface of the skin with rubbing alcohol before applying tape.
For an example of the use of tape for tennis elbow, click here.
3) Shoulder stabilization. As oboists, if we aren’t aware of our body alignment or we don’t take time to strengthen and balance opposing muscles, injuries develop. If we play hunched over with shoulders falling forward, we are primarily using the pectoral and bicep muscles. The deltoid and trapezius muscles become weak and neglected in comparison. In my case, it led to shoulder sublexation, a type of dislocation where the ball of the upper arm bone slid forward out of the socket of the scapula and slipped back. My injury was accelerated by loose ligaments and carrying babies, so don’t think that slouching guarantees something as intense as shoulder dislocation. But small imbalances become large imbalances as they are neglected.
If shoulder instability is an issue for you, taping can help retrain your shoulders to return to their natural alignment when combined with strengthening exercises. There were days where my joints were so loose, it felt as if my shoulders were literally taped to my body and that was the only reason they were still attached!
Shoulder stabilization taping techniques are demonstrated here.
Health and Healing,