The tennis season is truly in full swing as we enter the European clay court swing at Monte Carlo in the lead up to Roland Garros. The big news recently has been Novak Djokovic’s stellar form, which so far sees him unbeaten in his 24 matches this year. Much attributable to his hugely improved first serve and blistering confidence, Novak has already beaten both Federer and Nadal twice this year – solidifying his chances of breaking the Federer-Nadal stranglehold of the Number One ranking which has existed since February 2004.

While on his title runs in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami I did notice, however, that Novak consistently had Kinesio-tape on his left knee. Considering this, I was not surprised to find out that when Novak withdrew from the Monte Carlo Masters at the start of this week, it was to rest a niggling left knee injury.

Kinesio tape is a relatively new product, which was invented in the 70s by a Japanese chiropractor. Its use became much more popular, especially in the States, when 50,000 rolls were donated to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the brightly coloured pinks and blues of this conspicuous tape were seen all over the world. In the tennis world, it has been adopted by Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Andy Murray, to mention but a few.

The tape can be used for several purposes. Some examples include correcting improper body alignment or biomechanics, giving support and propioception to a joint or helping to reduce swelling. The tape itself is very light and breathable and, importantly, does not restrict movement, something essential for the likes of a quick baseliner like Djokovic.

From the tape application I saw on Novak’s knee, it appears it was functioning to offload his quadriceps muscle, possibly due to patellar tendon problems – the same problem that has dogged Rafael Nadal over the last few years.

This taping application is likely to have allowed Novak to manage any pain or discomfort he was feeling, giving him that 5-6% he needed to be able to get out on court. It is important to note that Kinesio tape should be used as an adjunct to treatment and is not a bandage to hide problems with. The tape probably permitted Novak to get through Indian Wells and Miami and now he is sensibly taking a couple of weeks off to do some intensive rehab and let his knee heal so as to be in full health for the dirt of Roland Garros.

At Central Health Physiotherapy we have many physios trained in the application of Kineseo tape and it is often used to aid the recovery of numerous strains and sprains around the body. Please call for more information.

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