Kinesiology Tape: What It Is and How It Works
You lead an active lifestyle. Maybe your work requires fast-paced manual labour. Or perhaps your social life includes sports and outdoor activities. Whatever you find yourself doing, you manage to stay on the go. So when injuries, aches or pains halt your progress, you might feel frustrated. You've used some traditional coping mechanisms, but you want to try something other than the creams and pills to which you usually turn.
What Is Kinesiology Taping?
You might have seen athletes with strappy looking tape on their arms, shoulders, backs and legs and wondered how it helps them. This method, called kinesiology taping, uses a flexible adhesive to manipulate injuries so they can heal in a new way.
While kinesiology tape seems like a simple approach to recovery, it offers some big benefits. Learn more below about the basics of kinesiology tape and how it works to help athletes.
What Is Kinesiology Taping?
Kinesiology taping began in 1979 with Dr Kenzo Kase, a chiropractor and acupuncturist. Dr Kase designed the tape to facilitate healing without impeding mobility.
Unlike traditional taping methods, which keep muscles and body parts rigid and immovable, Dr Kase wanted an option that allowed for more motion. Dr Kase first performed trials with different tapes available at the time. After his research, he realised that taping around the muscles or joint, instead of taping the muscle or join in place, offers more effective healing.
Instead of locking the joint or muscle in place, kinesiology tape pulls tissue away from the targeted area. This approach allows blood and other fluids to flow to and around the inflamed or injured spot to better heal. Dr Kase's taping first became popular in the late 1980s with Japanese Olympic athletes. It then moved toward Western culture when U.S. Olympic athletes Lance Armstrong and Kerri Walsh brought attention to it. And the method continues to grow in international attention.
Over the years, kinesiology tape has developed to fit the form and function of active lifestyles. It combines security, flexibility and adhesion to manipulate muscles and support joints in a practical and effective way. Thin, breathable materials, like cotton and synthetic fibres, act like skin to blend with the body's natural movement. Additionally, adhesive keeps the tape in place through showering, swimming and sweat. While kinesiology taping has gained attention over the years, the science behind the method is what has made the approach to taping so popular.
How Does Kinesiology Taping Work?
According to more traditional methods, an injured muscle or tendon had to stay in place to allow the injury to heal. Movement could aggravate the pain and cause more problems. However, wrapping an injury impedes circulation, which in turn limits healing.
In contrast, kinesiology taping opens up the muscle by taping around the area instead of entirely wrapping it. The tape secures the injury but doesn't surround it in a way that hinders natural healing. This strategy leads to the interesting and unique tape designs you might see on athletes' bodies.
The tape also pulls the muscle and fascia away from the injury so lymphatic fluid can cleanse and heal the tissue. Some people even think the tape helps reduce lactic acid build up, allowing for faster recovery after training.
The design and durability of kinesiology tape allow individuals to wear it three to seven days at a time. Because wearers receive all-day support and treatment, they experience faster and more consistent healing.
While people most often use kinesiology to treat and prevent injuries, it offers a range of benefits for various needs, like:
Muscle and ligament strains
Joint alignment and instability
Bone support, especially after a broken bone
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
If you think kinesiology tape could help your injury, contact a physiotherapist to learn more about your options.