Kinesiology taping has been used on humans for many years, both in competitive sports and in injury rehabilitation. More recently, kinesiology taping has been used with sport horses; however, the physiological mechanisms involved remain unclear and its benefits are controversial. Therefore, France-based researchers Sophie Biau and Isabelle Burgaud set out to determine the effects of kinesiology taping to abdominal muscles in horses.
The horses studied were 11 healthy, sound, adult sport horses. Kinesiology taping was applied to the abdominal muscles at 25% tension on therectus abdominis and 100% tension on the obliquus externus muscles. As a control, the same horses then wore the tape, but without tension. Exercise including hand walking and trotting before and after a 16-minute walk/trot/canter longe session. When in hand, the horses wore a 3-D accelerometer with a data logger on the chest in a girth strap.
The University of Minnesota Extension summarizes that the application of kinesiology taping on the abdominal muscles positively impacted the locomotion of the horses studied, especially longitudinal activity. Enhanced longitudinal activity is a sought-after quality, therefore, application of kinesiology taping may represent a method to improve training.
While no clear conclusion could be drawn about the physiological mechanism of kinesiology taping, the results could be interpreted as an increase in abdominal muscle strength and/or possible stimulation of the cutaneous trunci muscles, which “twitch” from stimuli like flies or a rider’s leg. Kinesiology taping did not appear to cause discomfort to the horses. However, researchers encourage it to be removed gently in the direction of the hair growth and emphasize it should only be applied by an experienced professional or owner.
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