Whether your'e a sports medicine professional or a weekend warrior looking for a little assist - kinesiology tape is something you've most likely seen in the last few years. It's almost impossible to watch a sporting event without seeing the "strange strips of colorful tape" in sports like Basketball, Volleyball, Baseball, Football and yes - even swimming.
What is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology Tape is an elastic cotton tape that is used therapeutically to provide muscle support and pain relief. (1). Kinesiology tape has elastic properties that allow it to stretch more to more than 140% of it's original state. Kinesiology tape was first introduced in the USA by Kinesio USA, Inc in about 1997. At first most sports medicine professionals were very skeptical. It was hard to imagine spending $6 or $7 on a single roll of tape so it was an uphill climb initially
Kinesiology taping has since become a very accepted form of treatment in most athletic training rooms and physical therapy clinics around the country. Twenty years later - every level from High Schools and Colleges all the way up to Olympic and Pro Sports Teams purchase and make use of Kinesiology tape. It is now available from a number of different companies that Miotech represents, including: Theraband Kinesiology Tape, "Kinesio" Gold FP and Kinesio Classic Tape, StrengthTape, and Mueller Kinesiology Tape. There are many other brands as well including RockTape, KT Tape, SpiderTech, MuscleAid and others. Whatever your chosen brand - you should find the videos and information below to be helpful.
Example: Taping for a Calf Strain:
Step 1: Anchor the End
Step 2: Apply with 25% Stretch
Step 3: Lay 2nd Strip
Step 4: Active Adhesive
Applying Kinesiology Tape:
There are various methods for applying kinesiology tape , but generally it is applied between the origin of the muscle and the insertion point of the muscle - providing greater support. The image below illustrates the concept of origin and insertion points.The bicep origin is a fixed attachment in the scapula and it inserts into the radius in the forearm. When activated the bicep can put the arm into flexion as seen below. This provides support and is generally very comfortable to wear- more comfortable than brace or some other form of support. Sometimes Kinesiology tape is even used to to improve muscle tension by strengthening the weekend muscle.
Many therapists claim it also assists with lymphatic flow. The concept is that the upper layers of the skin are lifted away from the lymphatic system beneath allowing liquids to better move away. Many athletes experience a decrease in pain. In in the image below - the locations where the tape was laid down clearly helped the bruise to clear out:
Tips on Application of Kinesiology Tape:
When applying Kinesiology tape it's important to prep the skin - get it clean and dry and avoid applying Kinesiology tape where skin has been recently moisturized. If you're using precut strips some of the work is done for you - otherwise you'll need a sharp pair of scissors to round the ends off of any strip of tape. Rounding the ends helps the tape from being pulled up too easily.
The two extreme ends of the strips are used as anchors (at the points of origin and insertion) and are laid down without any stretch. Once the first anchor is placed stretch to the desired length around the muscle (as instructed by the video's below) and then anchor with the end of the tape at the insertion point - again without applying any stretch to the anchors.
Kinesiology tape uses a paper backing to protect the adhesive - generally the backing is pulled away as the application is being placed. This tape is amazingly sticky so if you attempt to pull all the backing away before application, you're likely to have a wad of unusable tape in short order.
Once applied the paper backing can be used to rub the tape - the friction heats up the adhesive underneath and a good kinesiology taping application, when properly applied, can stay in place at least a couple of days. You can even bathe with kinesiology - we don't recommend soaking it but a quick shower should leave the tape in place. Dab it with your towel to remove excess moisture and if you applied the tape well, it should stay.
Additional anchor strips can also be added if tape is tending to peel up/off.
Here are some instructional videos on the use of Kinesiology tape. This was made specifically for StrengthTape - however, the same principals apply to almost all kinesiology tape applications. Just click on the link and a new window will open with a Youtube video from StrengthTape.
Basics Of Applying and Removing Kinesiology Tape:
Sport Specific Videos:
Instructional Videos for Addressing Specific Conditions:
- Plantar Fascia
- Patellar Tendon
- Outer Knee 1
- Outer Knee 2
- Medial Shin Splints
- Lateral Shin Splints (Anterior)
- Inner Knee
- Calf Strain
- Calf Strain (Self Application)
- Hamstring Tendon
- Osgood Schlatters 1
- Osgood Schlatters 2
- Upper Back/Paraspinal (Posture pain)
- Middle Back
- Low Back
- Hip Flexor
- Bunion (Hallux Valgus)
- Ball of Foot
- Ankle Instability
- Turf Toe
- Groin Strain
- Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
- Golfer's Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
- Elbow (General)
- Carpal Tunnel
- AC (acromioclavicular) Joint
- Abdominal Muscle
- Upper Trap
- SI (Sacroiliac) Joint
- Shoulder Retraction
- Shoulder Stability
- Rotator Cuff
So how does StrengthTape stack up to the competitors? Here's a little video that addresses that very question:
Those are a few of our favorite resources. You're bound to run across many more. If you're interested in trying StrengthTape or another brand of Kinesiology tape, please let us know!
(1): Lim EC, Tay MG (2015). "Kinesio taping in musculoskeletal pain and disability that lasts for more than 4 weeks: is it time to peel off the tape and throw it out with the sweat? A systematic review with meta-analysis focused on pain and also methods of tape application". British Journal of Sports Medicine.
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