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T-Tapp Workout for Back Aches

T-Tapp - Rehabilitative Approach to Fitness

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Updated March 24, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

T-Tapp is a very popular exercise program developed by internationally known fitness consultant, Teresa Tapp. According to Ms. Tapp, the method takes a "rehabilitative approach to fitness". T-Tapp combines alignment principles, aerobics, toning and stretch into a whole body workout. Ms. Tapp likely incorporated mind-body fitness concepts (i.e. Pilates and CAM therapies) into her system, as well.

All in all, I enjoyed the workout. My joints felt better when I was done, and I got a great cardio workout. But my positive results do not guarantee that T-Tapp will relieve your back pain. Read on to find out why.

Buyer Beware - T-Tapp is Not a Cure-All

Much of the book entitled Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes is written as one big sales pitch. This slanted presentation may be misleading, especially if you're urgently seeking pain relief.

The book, and to a lesser degree the accompanying DVDs, nearly overflow with success stories from T-Tappers claiming the method improves everything from back pain to lupus and MS (and of course, inch loss). Tapp says the key to these results is the way the method increases "neurokinetic and lymphatic flow". That's done by working in alignment, she says. Throughout the book and DVDs, Tapp gives instruction for and emphasizes staying in alignment while doing the exercises.

T-Tapp involves a fair amount of technique. At times, Ms. Tapp's verbal explanations seemed like a barrage of scientific terms, and her anatomy is not always correct. I finally caught on when she had me do the exercises the "usual way" and then the "T-Tapp" way.

T-Tapp may yield noticeable benefits to one's general health, but it's not likely to be a cure all for every back problem, nor any other medical condition.

If you do T-Tapp, you'll be standing for most or all of your workout. There's no jumping, but it still may not be appropriate if you have joint problems that interfere with your ability to support your body weight. And while the positions and moves are not supposed to cause pain, you may find they irritate an existing condition or injury. Depending on the type and severity of your back problem, you may need complete a physical therapy program before you can do T-Tapp safely. Ask your doctor if you are unsure.

About Teresa Tapp

Ms. Tapp's credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise physiology and over 25 years of experience teaching her program to a wide variety of people. She has worked with cancer patients, elite models, and according to the many testimonials in her book, women and men with conditions such as back pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.

Although she certifies instructors in her method, Ms. Tapp has not been certified by any of the go-to fitness organizations such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). To be fair, her instructors are required to have such a certification before being approved to teach her method.

Can You do T-Tapp if you Have Back Pain?

Tapp's back problems provided some of the initial impetus for the development of her program. She reports having a mild scoliosis and a high school gym class injury in which she broke 3 lumbar vertebrae. After her injury, she ignored her doctor's orders for "bed rest". Instead, she experimented with a variety of movements in order to find pain relief. Decades later Ms. Tapp now says, "if I don't keep my spinal muscles strong and flexible with proper exercise my back HURTS!"

While there's a lot of anecdotal evidence for T-Tapp as a solution to back pain and other health problems, to my knowledge, the method has not been subjected to the rigors of medical research. The printed materials claim it is "clinically proven to be an effective aerobic body sculpting workout". But the materials contain no citation of research studies to back up that claim.

Without solid evidence from medical studies, we do not know if or in what way T-Tapp might prove useful in rehab, physical therapy or spine clinics. It may be that the method gives great pain relief only to Ms. Tapp and the students who provided the testimonials for her book. Or there may be something to it.

You can't safely assume you'll get the same results as the people whose stories are scattered throughout the book. I say this to caution you against directly applying results you may read about to your own problem. If you are inspired to try T-Tapp for your back or other medical condition, check with your doctor and/or physical therapist before doing so.

Using the T-Tapp Materials

The company sent me the book - Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes, the Total Workout DVD set, and a few Basic Plus workout DVDs. The book also comes with a DVD that contains a short session on abdominal strengthening.

As I've already mentioned, the book has many testimonials as to the effectiveness of the T-Tapp method. It also includes an overview of how T-Tapp works, and instructions for each of the exercises.

Sorting through the DVDs and book to determine where to start and how to progress was confusing, to say the least. The Total Workout does come with a little pamphlet addressing this, but the program involves a number of workouts, each with several variations, and a particular learning sequence to follow (once you've determined for yourself that you've mastered the basics). Add to this a DVD with an informational seminar, the demo DVD and the DVD inside the book, and, well, pardon me for experiencing information overload!

I did appreciate listening to the stories of T-Tappers on the DVDs. There were very touching.

T-Tapp and its "rehabilitative approach to fitness" may be a great workout if your back condition is stable, or if you are looking to prevent problems by getting strong. But if you have an existing spine problem, I suggest talking to your doctor or physical therapist about the details of this program before taking it on. Above all, don't assume the results of other T-Tappers are typical. Each person's back problem is individual, and the last time I checked, no one treatment or fitness program will address them all.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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