Kinesio taping (Kinesiology taping) is a treatment technique that has grown greatly over recent years. You have likely seen kinesio tape worn by athletes, gym-goers, and even pregnant women.
Kinesio tape is used by placing the thicker tape in strategic positions as a way of easing pressure on their joints and alleviating pain. Kinesio tape is a union of old-school pain management strategies and state-of-the-art medical technology, utilizing aspects of acupressure and strategic physical therapy by placing elastic therapeutic tape around problematic areas. The tape exudes a pulling force, allowing for free range of motion while still providing a therapeutic pressure to the targeted area.
The acrylic adhesive component in kinesiology tape is activated by body heat, meaning that as soon as your physical therapist applies the taping system, it will begin working. Yet the cotton fibers that also comprise the material wick moisture away.
That means that sweating and getting the area wet isn’t as much of an issue as it was with traditional bandages injured athletes and other patients were once given. Kinesio tape is safe to shower with, but submerging it entirely will shorten the length of time it will stay put.
While using tape to wrap injured areas is not inherently new, the use of kinesio tape is different. Kinesio tape is specialized to react to body heat, providing added support by staying firm and in-place all day. While traditional bandages have long been used to provide additional support during injury recovery, kinesio tape is the first of its kind.
This type of kinesiology tape can be purchased through your physical therapist, at a local sports goods store, or even in stores or on online retail websites. You can even have a little fun with the tape as it comes in various colors too! The tape is cut to fit the area in need of reinforcement and can last up five days. Unlike a standard ACE bandage, that will typically wear over time and not be as effective with later uses, the Kinesio tape is one-time use and designed to last longer, through the wear and tear of life.
Kinesio tape is most frequently used by athletes—especially those who engage in prolonged activities. Runners especially are drawn to using kinesio tape, as the technique is incredibly low-profile and unlikely to get in the way of their running stride.
However, kinesio tape can benefit many people outside of the athletic world, and certainly stretches beyond supporting runners. Other people who might benefit from the use of K tape would be those who experience wrist pain after typing all day, or who experience back pain due to their job, both manual and sedentary.
Kinesio taping is great for not only treating injuries, but supporting weak zones, or re-educating muscles who might have lost function for different reasons. Overall, this is a great tool to relieve pain stemming from many different conditions.
Common conditions our trained physical therapists often treat with kinesiology taping include:
As mentioned before, many pregnant women use this method of athletic taping, especially for their back, knees, and even lower abdominal muscles during the third trimester to relieve pain and some of the additional pressure on the body during pregnancy.
Ensure that you talk with a physical therapist for guidance before attempting to use athletic taping for any reason, but especially before taking any action for pain relief when pregnant. Those who leave their athletic tape on for multiple days may experience some adhesive residue left behind upon removing the tape. You can use baby oil or something similar to help remove what’s left behind.
While taping does wonders to target particular areas in the body and relieve pain/increase circulation, there are times when the taping method is not appropriate to follow.
People with these conditions should consult their doctor before seeking out a physical therapist to treat using tape application.
The goal of kinesio tape is to enhance blood circulation at targeted areas; such as muscles and soft tissue, thereby reducing pain and improving recovery time following an injury. Kinesio tape works off the science of kinesiology, which is a fundamental aspect of physical therapy.
The taping creates a pulling action that helps to hold problematic joints and muscles in place as you go about your daily business and routine—including engagement in any level of physical activity or exercise.
The tape works by gently reinforcing the skin, pulling it away from your muscles, thereby allowing blood and other fluids to circulate more easily. The gentle pressure also cues the body to send additional blood to the taped area.
This improved circulation lessens swelling and speeds healing. Some evidence suggests that the tape’s exceptional holding abilities also help to correct misaligned muscles and ligaments, overall supporting muscles.
For kinesio tape to work effectively, the tape must be applied in strategic ways. Simply putting a bit of tape on your leg or elbow isn’t going to make much of a difference. However, when a physical therapist applies the tape in a strategic way that it is designed to follow muscle movement as you move through your day, then the tape can effectively improve healing and reduce pain.
The best wrapping technique changes depending on the part of the body in need of attention. Physical therapists are trained in the best ways to tape different parts of the body. Determining the exact placement and shaping of the kinesiology tape, along with which direction the “pull” should go, are all part of the skill needed in order to promote healing.
For example, certain injuries call for Y- or X-shaped applications, while smaller, more fragile areas heal better with an I-shaped wrapping. Attempting to apply the tape yourself, without any guidance, could result in further discomfort. It is important to receive guidance and training from a physical therapist or athletic trainers when first applying kinesio tape.
When properly applied — and after the patient has been carefully evaluated — muscle taping often allows athletes to get back on the field. Other injured patients find their daily activities made easier, with the support of the taping holding tender areas in place, and preventing overuse of problematic joints and muscles.
If any of this information seems like it could benefit your healing process, call our clinic for an appointment or click the “Book an appointment” button located at the top of this page. Our expert team will evaluate you for the best therapies, including kinesiology taping, to target your injuries.