With over 50 brands of Kinesiology Tape on the market, you may have stumbled across one at some point and wondered what it was, and how it could support you. Kinesiology Tape was first developed in the late 1970s by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor who wanted a tape that provided support but didn’t limit movement the way traditional athletic tapes do. Here’s what we know about how physical and sports therapists use it, its benefits, tips, and what to know.
So what is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology tape is a therapeutic tape that’s applied strategically to the body to provide support, lessen pain, reduce swelling, and improve performance. Enthusiasts report success in achieving these aims, but so far, there needs to be more research to say with certainty what taping can and cannot do.
How does Kinesiology Tape work?
Kinesiology tape is designed to mimic the skin’s elasticity so you can use your full range of motion. The tape’s medical-grade adhesive is also water-resistant and strong enough to stay on for three to five days, even while you work out or take showers.
When the tape is applied to your body, it recoils slightly, gently lifting your skin. It is believed that this helps to create a microscopic space between your skin and the tissues underneath it.
Studies have shown that when kinesiology tape is applied over the knee, it increases the space in the knee joint. Similar studies show kinesiology tape also increases the space in the shoulder joint. Even though the increase in space is slight, it helps reduce the chance of joint irritation.
If you’ve been injured, kinesiology tape might help improve circulation and reduce swelling in the area where you’re hurt. The theory is that when kinesiology tape is applied, it creates extra subcutaneous space, which changes the pressure gradient in the area underneath your skin. That change in pressure enhances the flow of lymphatic fluid. Changing the flow of lymphatic fluid could help bruises heal faster.
What is Kinesiology Tape used for?
- Treating Injuries:
Physical therapists sometimes use kinesiology taping as one part of an overall treatment plan for people who’ve been injured. Kinesiology taping is most effective when it’s used in conjunction with other treatments like manual therapy. Kinesiology taping is used to mitigate pain and swelling, but it’s always used as an adjunct to what we’re trying to accomplish.
- Re-educating muscles
Kinesiology tape can help retrain muscles that have lost function or that have gotten used to an unhealthy way of working. For example, kinesiology taping can be used to correct posture in your head and neck. Physical therapists believe this may be because having the strange sensation of tape on your skin can make you more aware of how you’re standing or moving.
- Enhancing performance
Some athletes use kinesiology taping to help them achieve peak performance and protect against injury when they’re competing in special events. A lot of runners use this tape every time they run a marathon, sometimes placing the tape along the glute as a way of ‘waking up’ the muscle and reminding it to keep working.
Is Kinesiology Tape right for you?
Although the effectiveness of kinesiology taping is not well researched, it may provide support, increase circulation, reduce pain, and improve the way your joints and muscles work. Before using it, we recommend speaking to a physical therapist, because it’s most useful when combined with other treatment methods. Contact us today to learn about the benefits of Kinesiology Tape and if it’s right for you!