Supporting a muscle or joint injury with tape is a standard treatment method used in sports medicine and other health disciplines. Kinesio tape takes sports wraps to the next level, combining stretch, flexibility and self-adhesion. Its primary advantage over old-school tape lies in its elasticity. Kinesiology tape is used to rehabilitate injuries and prevent new ones and enhance performance.
The base material of kinesiology tape, which can be made from cotton or synthetic fiber, is coated with an adhesive product. There are several brand names of tape, most with similar advertised features.
Kinesiology tape — because it adheres to the skin during movement — gently lifts the skin away from muscles and other body tissues. This can create space for blood and lymphatic fluid to move about and may help control inflammation. In addition, because the tape is flexible and lightweight, it doesn’t overly restrict movement, but it does provide some support.
The primary benefits of kinesiology tape result from the taping technique. By applying the tape in a stretched manner, it stimulates the skin and underlying tissues. Proper stretching involves generating zero pull at the beginning and end of the tape with various stretching percentages used throughout the center section, depending on the affected area. Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine therapists know the correct way to apply kinesiology tape to get the most benefits. They can teach you the proper taping method for your situation.
You’re an athlete and want extra support during your everyday pursuits.
You are undergoing physical therapy, a sports medicine program, or are recovering from surgery.
You have musculoskeletal complaints, caused by aging or overuse.
You have a severe allergic reaction to adhesive tape.
You have diabetes, active cancer, open wounds, or deep vein thrombosis.
You’re showing signs of an infection.
Kinesiology tape has been the subject of several studies with varying results, depending upon whether it was used on healthy or injured individuals. In evaluating Kinesio® Tape, a trademarked brand, researchers found that injured wearers showed beneficial results over regular elastic bandages in:
Some of the factors that may affect the results of tape wrapping include knowing the exact origin of the pain and understanding supportive muscle groups. In other words, tape placement is key to getting the most out of kinesiology tape.
Finally, there is something to be said for the psychological benefit. Taped individuals may feel more confident about moving their bodies and following the prescribed exercises, which may put them on a speedier road to recovery.
Kinesiology tape is readily available, non-invasive and embraced by professional and amateur athletes, showing up on competitors in national and world championships and the Olympics. Based on the experiences of these individuals, their trainers, and scores of weekend warriors, tape wrapping seems to be a popular choice. Individuals can find the tape at local pharmacies and sporting goods stores and order it online.
Typical tape wrapping takes only minutes, depending on the body part. Certain areas may need multiple pieces of tape applied horizontally and vertically. There are plenty of online videos demonstrating the correct tape application for various body parts. However, to get the most beneficial effects of kinesio taping and prevent accidental harm, it’s best to have a professional walk you through applying the tape the first time.
Some tape brands are available in premeasured perforated strips, making it easy to apply the tape as directed. Follow these steps for proper adhesion:
Remove the tape by pinching a corner and swiftly pulling it off. Baby oil can be applied to help ease removal.
Since kinesiology tape is applied directly to the skin, the most common side effect is skin irritation. Reactions can range from an allergic response to the fabric or adhesive to irritation caused by perspiration buildup. It’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how long to wear tape before replacing it. Tape may need to be changed out more frequently during periods of high activity or extreme heat.
Skin irritation can usually be resolved by removing the tape, washing the affected area and drying the skin thoroughly. However, users may want to experiment with another brand if the problem is due to the adhesive or fabric.
Proper application of kinesiology tape is essential to prevent unnecessary damage to the injured area. Excessive stretching of the tape beyond the suggested limit and wrapping the tape incorrectly around a body part could cause more harm than good.
Most people apply kinesiology tape to an area that’s been causing pain or feels unstable. However, it’s also a practical solution for support during everyday athletic pursuits, such as running, golf, tennis and hiking. Kinesiology tape can be used to complement physical therapy sessions, sports medicine programs or surgery recoveries. Some of the more common areas to apply kinesiology tape include:
Many people prefer drug-free solutions for chronic pain and joint problems. Kinesiology tape offers an alternative treatment for musculoskeletal complaints, whether caused by an injury, aging or overuse.
Therapists and physicians may recommend using kinesiology tape following an injury and then may discontinue its use after healing occurs. Other times they may suggest using the tape to support a painful area or a muscle or joint under stress from repetitive or aggressive activities. Because kinesiology tape is easy to store and has a long shelf life, it can be kept on hand for sudden flare-ups or new injuries.