Most people in the UK with even the slightest interest in sport can't have helped noticing how many athletes now wear the supportive pink, black or blue stripes of Kinesio Taping.
Kinesio Taping first gained global exposure during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and after that was used to great effect by a number of UK sports stars, most notably David Beckham. At the London 2012 Olympics, athletes from 80 countries wore it when competing and it is now regularly seen at sporting events throughout the world as well as on many Premiership footballers and sporting champions, including the world's most expensive footballer Gareth Bale and world tennis ace Novak Djokovic.
Over summer 2014 Kinesio Tape was very much in evidence in the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and the Invictus Games.
Penny treating patients at The Invictus Games
Penny Macutkiewicz, MSc Advanced Clinical Practice, Bsc (Hons) Physiotherapy, MCSP, has been professionally involved in elite sport since 2002 and has worked with UK athletics, British Swimming, British Rowing and the English Institute of Sport. She regularly travels the world to support the Great Britain Team in countless different sports and has worked as a senior physiotherapist at the summer and winter Paralympics (Bejing, Turin and London 2012) as well as many other international sporting events.
In 2014, Penny was Chief Physiotherapist at the Invictus Games, Lead Physiotherapist for the British Para Triathlon Championship and is also a fully qualified Kinesio practitioner and instructor.
She grew up in Teignmouth, Devon but moved to Newcastle in 2005 and loves the North East. As a child she was a keen gymnast and had ambitions to compete in the Olympics but after she broke her ankle at the age of 14, and her treatment was badly mismanaged by a physiotherapist, she realised firstly that she ought to have a back-up career plan and secondly that it might be interesting to become a physiotherapist - but a more proficient one! So she studied for a physiotherapy degree at Cardiff and qualified in 1998.
When Penny isn't working all over the world with Paralympic athletes she runs The Performance Clinic at the University of Sunderland and at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle. It's well known by regional athletes but Penny treats clients from all different backgrounds, ages and abilities. One of her proudest moments was rehabilitating a client after a hip replacement so he could dance with his daughter at her wedding.
Penny training Kinesio Taping practitioners
She says: "I have helped athletes reach their potential and win medals at the Olympics and Paralympics, but on a day to day basis the best thing is being able to help people return to their favourite activities. We are often the "go to" clinic when they have tried everywhere else."
Three-time Gold Medallist Paralympic Stephen Miller was born with Cerebral Palsy and had a hip replacement after the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Penny worked with him on rehabilitation, focussing on pain relief and movement patterns and then rapidly introduced him to Pilates and strength training. Stephen is now in training for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
The Invictus Games 2014 was an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. Over 400 competitors from 13 nations took part. The event was championed by Prince Harry and was widely acclaimed as a huge celebration of resilience and passion.
As Chief Physiotherapist for the Invictus Games and senior physiotherapist working across huge international events like the Olympics and Paralympics, Penny must keep up to speed on all new treatments. If her clients are not showing any improvement within three sessions, she explores other options. Her speciality is biomechanics - assessing why people move the way they do and rehabilitating them correctly.
In 2006, Penny participated in one of the first ever UK Kinesio Taping courses taken by the founder of Kinesio, Dr Kenzo Kase himself. Kinesio Tape has been in her kit bag ever since.
Penny says: "Kinesio Tape totally changed the way I manage my athletes' injuries. I use it through all recovery stages of an injury and will often apply to parts of the body that aren't injured in order to offload weight from the site of the injury, or improve posture and biomechanical movements."
Kinesio was used by Penny on athletes from all countries at the Invictus Games, particularly on swimmers or para triathletes with shoulder pain because Kinesio is highly waterproof and stays on much longer than other tapes. She also applied it to cyclists' knees for pain relief and support; on basketball players for rib and shoulder pain and in runners for Achilles and calf pain.
Kinesio being applied to leg
Penny says her Paralympic athletes are by far the toughest group of people she's ever worked with. "Most people complain about little aches and pains but my Paralympic athletes just battle on. Now that they know that my role is simply to improve their performance, they're more trusting and know they don't have to endure unnecessary pain and frustration. Nowadays there are so many ways to reduce pain and improve movement patterns, balance, coordination and range of motion through the correct physiotherapy treatment. Often athletes with disability have not been put on the appropriate strength and conditioning programmes in the past and once I have addressed this, their progress, strength and performance improves very quickly."
"Muscular and tendon injuries are very common in athletics, particularly with disabled athletes, as they tend to "power through" and ignore the pain, Sports injuries tend to happen through over-exertion, poor biomechanics, inadequate conditioning of the athlete, and lack of suitable warm up. I use Kinesio once an athlete is injured to aid with the control of swelling and to improve muscle activity. I usually find that once the athlete is moving in the correct way with their pain well-managed, then recovery is much quicker."
For more information on Kinesio Taping, please go to www.kinesiotaping.co.uk or call 0191 287 7008
For more information or to contact Penny Macutkiewicz please go to www.theperformanceclinic.co.uk or call 0191 515 2009