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What's on Tom Brady's Thumb?

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It's Super Bowl season once again.

Tom Brady is obviously in the headlines. He typically is this time of year, right? Love him or hate him, Tom is a consistent winner. Whether the media is discussing Tom's workout routine, his diet, his well-known "alternative medicine" approach to health, or attempts to pry into his private life, you can pretty much bet the news is focused on the man that's considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time. Most recently, particularly before his last game (AFC Championship), the focus was on Brady's thumb. Tom injured the palm side of his thumb in practice days before the pivotal that AFC championship game; the injury was to his throwing hand and forced him to miss practice and be "questionable" to play. The revelation that he needed several stitches on the thumb of his throwing hand to the seemingly inevitable heartbreak he inflicted on the Jacksonville Jaguars in spite of it all, it's (his thumb) played a starring role during the the playoffs. And now, we know a new twist in the saga of Brady's gimpy appendage. A product probably best-known for being seen on the bodies of beach volleyball players was used on Brady's thumb after a mysterious visit from a doctor with a roll of mysterious tape. The report details how Jacki Cassady, a marketing manager for KT Tape, was working a booth at the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society in Glendale, Arizona last week when she was approached by a doctor with very specific questions about how her product could help with a very specific thumb injury. Cassady connected the doctor with a sales rep, and some specialized KT Tape was shipped to 1 Patriot Place ahead of Sunday's game, according to the report. KT Tape, short for Kinesiology therapeutic tape, is best known as that stuff beach volleyball players wear in various colors and patterns that you see when you tune in to the sport every four years during the Olympics. It was invented by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase. It first made an appearance on American volleyball icon Kerri Walsh at the 2008 Beijing Games and has stuck around since with other Olympians and professional athletes alike.

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KT Tape claims to be an "elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments," according to its product description; it has become somewhat of a mainstay among athletes... Which brings us back to Brady. We all know now about Brady's penchant for unorthodox medicine. Personally, I know his chiropractor (Dr. Miller) in Boston keeps Tom well-adjusted. Dr. Miller and I have met a couple of times in Indy, at the Association of NFL Chiropractors; he is a super nice guy with lots of Super rings (team doctors also get the hardware, which he even let me try on!).  Why wouldn't Tom be getting adjusted regularly, right?! Brady is interested in health and performance, so you can bet chiropractic care, massage therapy, a rocking diet and fitness routine are on his regular schedule.
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Tom Brady had 12 stitches in his throwing hand, per @AdamSchefter. Back to the tape.... So how does this mystery tape work? Is it really real or just a placebo??...  

Tape turns down the volume on pain

More specifically, it runs interference on pain. Ever whack your shin or funny bone and rub it, and suddenly realize you feel better? K Tape on the skin can interfere with painful signals which are directed to the brain. When the signals arriving to the brain are altered, it does not produce the sensation of pain (propioceptive nerve fibers travel to the brain faster than nociceptors; ie, touch is perceived faster than pain and therefore overrides/dims down the pain signals). When kinesiology tape is properly applied, many of our patients call it "magic" or think that it fixed their injury instantly. In fact, it helps to change how your body interprets pain, turning down the pain "volume" that your body hears.  

Decompresses an area of swelling and inflammation

When K Tape is applied to the skin, it has a microscopic lifting effect underneath the skin and between the many layers. This allows the by-products created by inflammation to be removed more quickly.  

It delays fatigue

Research has shown that K Tape on skin can attenuate muscle fatigue. In rehab, this is very important, not only for the parts of your body that are currently hurting, but also for the surrounding areas as they help to pick up the slack for muscles that are currently not working well.  

It normalizes muscle tone

When someone is injured, fatigued, sick, or inflamed, the symphony of muscle action that normally takes place with great accuracy often falls out of tune. This can happen all over the body. For instance, research has shown that people who sprain their ankle tend to have altered activity of their hip muscle as a result. K Tape helps bring dormant muscle back to life and help calm down the overactive muscles. It helps your body coordinate movement as if it weren't hurt, hence allowing it to heal properly.  

It distributes physical stress

Unlike conventional taping, which prevents movement – RockTape allows full movement of a taped area.  Through elastic properties and quick recoil, RockTape can help distribute forces to other nearby areas through the fascia, ligaments, and even bones. K Tapes effectiveness is undeniable. This is why we make it available and apply it to our patient base. Ask us more next time you are in if you have questions. In the meantime, you will continue to see this mysterious tape in the public eye. On the Cross Fit games, to the tennis/basketball courts and even to the golf course...K Tape is here to stay and help keep you in the game.

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