Trends in fitness come and go, and often come back around. So by now, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Kinesio Tape, if you haven’t already used it yet. It was designed back in the 1970’s by Dr. Kenzo Kase from Japan.
1970’s … That’s over forty years old! But before you knock this seemingly archaic taping method, you should know: Kinesio Tape isn’t just regular tape. It’s pretty magical, in my opinion. Of course, I’ll admit here that I’m biased. I’ve used this product before on various occasions, for various injuries. The first time I used this tape, I was in high school and had severe tendonitis in my knee as well as Iliotibial Band Syndrome so bad, I was limping when I walked around. I was running long distances on the track team at the time, and had a meet coming up. One of my fellow distance running teammates gave me some Kinesio Tape and showed me how to apply it. I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. I could not only walk without limping, but I was able to continue running, and my chronic injuries actually began healing.
If you’re an athlete of any kind, you know that typically an injury needs rest and rehab to heal – not continued use and performance. But that’s what I was able to do with this tape! I didn’t stop running or competing, yet my injuries were improving.
Well, no… It’s the science of Kinesio Tape and we’re about to dive into it.
What is Kinesio Tape?
Kinesio Tape is a thin, porous, stretchy tape. The porous material allows sweat and moisture through the tape for a comfortable, breathy feeling. This also allows the tape to be worn for days at a time, through your sweating, swimming, and showering.
How is it Different from Other Tapes?
Traditional taping of injuries involve stabilizing the muscle or joint that is injured with athletic tape. Often, the tape would be applied tightly around a joint to restrict the motion of that joint, therefore, preventing further strain and injury. The tape would be removed immediately after athletic performance or exercise is completed. This taping technique inhibits the natural healing process by restricting the circulation of blood and fluids to the injured area.
Kinesio Tape, on the other hand, allows full range of motion movements and opens up the area surrounding the muscle. It accomplishes both of these seemingly contradictory tasks because the tape stretches only longitudinally, not across its width, which allows for certain applications of the tape to stretch and pull skin, while other taped directions remain stabilized. Note that the tape is not wrapped around injured sites. The tape is applied along muscles, tendons, ligaments to slightly lift the skin covering an injured muscle to promote circulation and healing, while providing stabilization to prevent further strain and injury. By lifting the skin slightly, space is created for the muscle that allows more blood and fluid to circulate through it.
What Does it Do (Scientifically Speaking)?
Kinesio Tape works with your body’s natural feedback system between the brain and the muscles. By adjusting the placement of the tape, you can manipulate the way your skin and muscles interact. This manipulation can help relax or excite your muscles to send less or more signals to the brain about various things, like feeling pain.
HUH?? Here’s a List to Break it Down:
- Kinesio Tape supports your muscles and aligns your joints. The taping allows your muscles to continue to work and contract, even when they are weak and injured. The way you tape them helps lessen the pain you may feel by providing excess space between your muscles and skin and disrupting the neuro-muscular feedback system. It helps align your joints by increasing the range of motion to certain joints, depending on how you tape them. Since it also helps relieve your tight muscles, it reduces the extra strain and pressure those muscles put on joints that cause unnecessary pain.
- Kinesio Tape improves circulation. By creating extra space between the muscle and skin, more blood and body fluids can reach the injured site. This is how we heal! So, inflammation will be reduced, and thus pain will lessen, and more fluids circulate through the area and cleanse the chemicals out.
- Kinesio Tape facilitates your natural healing process. The tape isn’t magical, but the way your body heals is. The way the tape works is to help promote healing and reduce the pain signals your brain receives. Double whammy of relief.
How Do I Apply it?
First, you want to make sure the area is clean. If you use moisturizer, clean it off the site you are about to tape. This allows the adhesive to stick better and last longer. Use hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes to rid the skin of excess oils or lotions. Let it dry completely before applying the tape.
There are two directions the tape moves in, as said before. It only stretches longitudinally, not across its width, so tension in the tape should be stretched accordingly. For injured, tight muscles that require relief and healing, the tape should be applied with no tension (i.e.: don’t stretch the tape when applying). This application should start from the tendon and muscle and extend toward the origin of the muscle (i.e.: where the muscle originally attaches from).
For chronic injuries that need support or increased range of motion, the tape should have some tension in it. This application should start from the origin of the muscle and extend toward the tendon or bone the muscle inserts on.
After the tape is on, rub it to active the adhesive. This ensures the tape won’t peel off prematurely. Then, enjoy the relief you feel for the next few days!
Anyone can use Kinesio Tape. Many physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and athletes use Kinesio Tape to provide relief of injury and maintain athletic performance despite injury. This tape can be used for almost any common injury from shin splints, tendonitis in the knee and elbow, to carpal tunnel syndrome. It comes in all sorts of fun colors and can be easily applied to last for days at a time, allowing you to remain pain free and heal faster without disrupting your daily routine. To know more on how to tape your specific injury, head over to the Kinesio Tape website for instructions and tutorials.