The History of Kinesiology Tape
For nearly 50 years, kinesiology tape has been helping support joints, muscles, and ligaments all over people’s bodies. But how did we get from the 1970s to today, when k tape has become mainstream and everyone from professional athletes to pregnant moms-to-be are using it?
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. So, when Kenzo Kase was looking for a better way to support ageing patients with arthritis, he started looking for his own solution. The old way of using rigid medical tape, that didn’t allow for movement and could be very harsh on the skin, was out. And the new way, with the more supportive and patient-friendly kinesiology tape, was in.
Before we get any deeper into the story of kinesiology tape, it’s important to look at what it is and what it does.
Kinesiology Tape (also known as elastic therapeutic tape or athletic tape) is made of cotton-based materials with an adhesive on one side for application. It is applied to the body to support joints, muscles, and ligaments, and more. The list of benefits that users of kinesiology tape have experienced include, increased blood flow, reduced inflammation, muscle support, joint support, faster healing from muscle strains and joint sprains, and injury prevention.
The elasticity of the tape allows for a range of motion that rigid tapes do not, and helps to gently lift the skin, offering an opportunity for increased blood flow and circulation. The second-skin sensation that kinesiology tape offers has allowed people to continue their athletic and day-to-day activities in less discomfort and pain. Whether users are in search of relief from chronic aches and pains (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, arthritis) or healing from strains, sprains, and pulls, kinesiology tape can offer it.
While kinesiology tape has been used since the 1970s, its popularity and use have risen in the last decade. At the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in Beijing and London, many athletes were seen using tape while they competed. It was a look at the functional effectiveness of kinesiology tape at the highest level of competition and raised awareness as well as curiosity. In the time since, many athletes have used kinesiology tape for support, injury prevention, and healing. And, in more recent years, the use of k tape has increased in people looking for that same kind of support in their everyday lives.
People working in offices have experienced the benefits of kinesiology tape in the way they once did from bulky wrist braces and uncomfortable desk chairs. Seniors looking to stay active and healthy have enjoyed more support and the ability to move easier and more frequently. And expecting mothers have found relief from pregnancy discomfort as their bellies grow.
One kinesiology tape history's most important milestones is the expansion of manufacturing and availability. In 2006 Pre-Cut kinesiology tape products were introduced by SpiderTech’s parent company NUCAP, starting with the Full Knee One Piece. And in 2008, 16 Pre-Cut body part specific kinesiology tape products were introduced, making it easier for users to self-apply kinesiology tape to most parts of their bodies without worrying about cutting tape pieces to the correct length, or applying them in a pattern that would offer the benefits they needed.
In 2010, NUCAP launched the SpiderTech brand, offering new kinesiology tape products to athletes and all users looking for support in a new way. Since then, the market has continued to grow, and innovation and invention have made kinesiology tape easier to use and more effective for everyone.
Necessity provided the spark for innovation again in 2020 when breathable cotton kinesiology tape masks were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tape made for a fantastic single-use mask that already had a skin-friendly adhesive and could allow for functional filters to be used as needed.
These One Piece Pre-Cut products also made it easier to try a safe, drug-free relief and support ‘product’ without needing the hands-on assistance of a doctor or physiotherapist. The advent of easy to follow instructions and step-by-step tutorials made kinesiology tape accessible to a much wider audience and has allowed its usefulness to reach more people in need.
Non-medical solutions that are safe for anyone looking for help will always be in demand. And as more people take control of their health and wellness in an attempt to live longer stronger lives, kinesiology tape will remain a go-to choice. The last 50 years have taken us from invention to mainstream use. We can’t wait to see where the next 50 years takes us.