Kinesio tape - uses and application
Kinesiology tape has been on the market for some time now - however, its benefits are constantly being tested. It’s easy to use kt tape and is ideal for both athletes and everyday people alike. But is it really all that great? Read on and find out!
What is Kinesio tape?
You’ve more than likely seen this brightly-colored tape stuck on athletes in any number of sports. But you may be wondering what exactly is this kinesiology tape, how does it work and how is it applied - can anyone use it, or is it strictly for athletes?
In order to understand what kinesio tape is, you must first understand the concept of the kinesio taping method. It is provided by physical therapists in order to help boost the body’s natural healing process and improve support and stability for muscles and joints (What is the kinesio taping method). This form of therapy also allows for tissue manipulation, improved circulation, better performance, the re-education of the neuromuscular system in damaged parts of the body, as well as reduction of pain and swelling (The Kinesio Taping® Method). Although kinesiology taping (KT) was primarily intended to be used for treating and preventing injuries in athletes, it provides benefits even outside of the field or court.
Kinesiology tape, or simply ks tape, is a product used by physical therapists when providing the rehabilitative taping technique. It comes in a wide array of colors and the original product is made from a combination of cotton and nylon, allowing it to function like our own skin. (What Is Kinesiology Tape?). Once applied, the special adhesive allows for the tape to stay on for up to a few days, and keeps your skin slightly tightened, thus lifting it where it has been applied.
How to apply kinesio tape?
Prior to filling your online shopping cart with packs of kinesio tape rolls, it’s important that you speak with your physical therapist and learn how to apply it and for how often you ought to wear it. You’ll be carefully instructed on how to apply, so that the next time you’re required to do so, you can do it yourself. You can use KT tape whether you’ve been injured or prophylactically, in order to prevent injury and also improve performance.
Before you use kt tape, go over the area you plan on applying it onto. Once you’ve learned the correct ways of applying the product, start by washing and drying the area that you plan on applying the kinesiology tape to - as oily and wet skin will prevent the adhesive from properly sticking onto the skin. Continue by cutting the KT tape to the right size and make sure that it is enough for special alignments. Remember that:
- An “I” shaped tape extension is applied for treating acute injuries (How to Use Kinesiology Tape). Simply apply this to the right muscle in a straight line.
- A “Y” shaped piece of tape is used to either inhibit or facilitate muscle stimuli and should be longer than the muscle (How to Use Kinesiology Tape).
- An “X” shaped tape application is used for a muscle that changes alignment during movement and may require additional support (How to Use Kinesiology Tape).
- A “web” shaped tape extension works in a similar fashion to the X-shaped application, however, one end inhibits muscle stimuli, while the other end spreads out and facilitates muscle stimuli.
Once you know exactly how to use KT tape and where to apply it, anchor the first strip onto your skin and begin to stretch it. You can either improve muscle performance by stretching the KT tape by 15%-50%, or 15%-25% if you feel that a muscle might be overstimulated (How to Use Kinesiology Tape). If properly maintained, kinesio tape can stay on the body for up to five days - avoid rubbing it vigorously and instead, pat it dry with a towel if it gets wet (How to Use Kinesiology Tape). Removing the tape is also fairly easy. Simply cover it with baby oil or vegetable il and wait for a few minutes, until the adhesive begins giving away (How to Use Kinesiology Tape). Now that you know how to apply and remove kinesio tape, you’re ready to go shopping!
Miracle products or a one-trick pony?
Kinesiology tape has a number of proven applications. It mitigates pain and swelling when used with other treatments, adds support to muscles and joints (especially helpful if you have conditions such as Achilles tendonitis), re-educates muscles that are not properly functioning and enhances performance while protecting against injuries (What Is Kinesiology Tape?). In other words, kinesiology tape does in fact provide a number of benefits, which can be seen both on the field and in clinics, hospitals and people’s homes.
It’s important to bear in mind that there are a number of unofficial benefits to using kinesio tape which don’t have significant scientific evidence of actually working. These supposed benefits include improved blood and lymphatic circulation, changing pain pathways and reducing scarring. The benefits of kinesio tape are constantly being tested, and although it has helped some people with their circulation, pain pathways or scarring, there is not enough evidence to back this claim entirely.
With that being said, kinesiology taping is a reliable method for treating and preventing a number of conditions for both athletes and everyday people. Used prophylactically, it can help improve performance and help to support muscles and joints. As a form of treatment, it can mitigate the movement of damaged muscles or strengthen them, which is especially beneficial when used with other treatment options.
- “What is the kinesio taping method?”, Kinesio Holding Corporation, 2016 https://kinesiotaping.com/about/what-is-the-kinesio-taping-method/
- “The Kinesio Taping® Method”, Ortho Bethesda, 2020 https://www.orthobethesda.com/physical-therapy/the-kinesio-taping-method/
- “What Is Kinesiology Tape?”, Rebecca Joy Stanborough, March 20, 2019 https://www.healthline.com/health/kinesiology-tape
- “How to Use Kinesiology Tape”, Medically reviewed by Jennifer Boidy, March 6, 2020 https://www.wikihow.com/Use-Kinesiology-Tape