Kinesiology tape, simply known as kinesio tape, or sports tape is a rehabilitative taping technique aimed at facilitating the body’s natural healing process. It provides stability and support to muscles and joints without binding or restricting range of movement.
The tape can be used to effectively treat athletic injuries and other physical disorders. Many professional athletes ranging from professional footballers, to golfers use Kinesio tape to improve sporting performance, prevent injury and allow faster recovery after strenuous activities.
Therapeutic Kinesiology tape can benefit a wide variety of musculoskeletal and sports injuries, as well as inflammatory conditions.
Kinesio taping stems from the science of Kinesiology, hence the name ‘Kinesio’, and is technique based on the body’s own natural healing process. It uses the principle of elastic tape to either reduce pain and inflammation of sore muscles, to relax overused muscles, and to support muscles in movement.
Kinesiology tape was developed in the 1970s by a Japanese-American chiropractor, Kenzo Kase, for sumo wrestlers to alleviate pain and act as a muscle support system. The neutral shades of tape became more brightly coloured at the request of one of his female (non-sumo patients).
It became more publicly known by its use as sports tape in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. K-tape has no medicinal properties itself but is today used by medical practitioners and athletes around the world to prevent injuries and to aid healing.
Kinesiology tape is a latex free, thin, stretchy, elasticated strip with an adhesive backing. It’s made from hypoallergenic cotton and has an acrylic heat-activated backing that stretches along its longitudinal axis. It can be stretched out 40% to 60% of its resting length and is designed to approximate the weight and thickness of skin.
Kinesio tape can pretty much be used to treat any kind of musculoskeletal condition. It’s widely used by athletes to prevent injury and provide joint support. It can even be used to treat headaches by applying the tape to the neck, to help reposition the head.
Some popular uses for K tape include:
- Ankle sprains
- Runner’s knee
- Hamstring strain
- Knee pain
- Groin injury
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Shoulder impingement
- Rotator cuff injury
Kinesio tape has many benefits to musculoskeletal health. Some of them include:
- Pain relief: Kinesio tape can relieve both acute and chronic pain by lightly lifting skin to reduce pressure on the sensitive pain receptors under the skin.
- Prevention and relief from muscle cramps: Kinesio tape can increase blood flow to overworked muscles during activity. This prevents the occurrence of muscle spasms and cramps.
- Reduced inflammation and swelling: Kinesio tape promotes lymphatic fluid flow, thereby reducing swelling that gathers in an injured area.
- Sports injuries & surgery recovery: Kinesio tape not only helps those with sports injuries; it also helps post-surgery individuals recover faster.
Almost anyone of any age can use Kinesiology tape. If you suffer with muscular pain or fatigue during an activity and don’t want it to hold you back, then Kinesio tape may be a solution for you.
If you have severe adhesive tape allergies, infections, open wounds, cancer or DVT, it’s not advisable to use kinesiology tape. Also, if your skin is extremely thin or sensitive you should be cautious of using the tape.
Your therapist will apply a single strip of Kinesiology tape over the affected muscle or area in a stretched position. More strips of tape may be applied, with little or no stretch, from one end of the muscle to the other. All ends are applied to the skin, not to other pieces of tape to ensure they stick and don’t peel away from the skin.
After application, the tape is rubbed briskly from the center to the ends to activate the adhesive backing. Kinesiology tape is only applied once and won’t stick if the adhesive side of the tape has been touched.
Before applying Kinesiology tape skin needs to be dry and oil free. It won’t stick if body lotion or oil has been used, or if there is perspiration on the skin. Apply at least one hour before starting exercise. To prepare the area, wipe with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
K-tape can be applied to skin that has a small amount of body hair. This shouldn’t stop it sticking or its effectiveness.
Kinesiology tape should be removed in the direction of hair growth to minimise discomfort. Usually in a downward direction for arms and legs. Press the skin at the end of the tape and gently peel back. If it is still tightly stuck onto the skin, you may want to try soaking with baby oil or olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes to aid removal.
There is a low chance of skin irritation from Kinesiology tape, as it contains no latex and is made from cotton with a hypoallergenic acrylic adhesive.
However, if you have extremely sensitive skin, there is a small chance you may experience a rash, itching or skin irritation. In such a case, we would recommend you remove the tape.
Osteopathy and Kinesiology taping share the same principle – that the body has built-in healing mechanisms. Kinesio taping can therefore work together with osteopathy and help prolong the benefits of osteopathic treatment.
At Relieve Clinic, we not only focus on your current pain, but also for your well-being in the future. Our experienced practitioners will create a detailed treatment plan for you, to determine how Kinesio tape can work for you.