Using kinesiology tape is a definitive rehabilitative technique intended to facilitate your body’s natural healing process while providing stability and support to muscles and joints. It does not restrict the body’s range of motion and provides extended soft tissue manipulation. This method also can prolong the benefits of manual therapy. Wearable for days at a time, kinesiology tape is safe for people of all ages. It can successfully treat a variety of neuromuscular, orthopedic, neurological and other medical conditions. By targeting different receptors, kinesiology tape relieves pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting action forms convolutions in the skin, decreasing inflammation in the affected area.
Physical therapists will sometimes use kinesiology taping as a part of a full treatment plan for people who have been injured. The American Physical Therapy Association states that kinesiology tape is most effective when it is used along with other treatments like manual therapy.
Kinesiology tape can help train the muscles again that have started functioning in an unhealthy way or have lost function. For example, you can use kinesiology tape to correct posture in your neck and head. And a 2017 study from the National Institute of Health supports using it to help stroke patients improve how they walk. Physical therapists think this might be because having the sensation of tape on your skin could make you more aware of how you are moving or standing.
Support Weak Zones
If you have IT band friction syndrome, patellofemoral stress syndrome or Achilles tendonitis, kinesiology tape might help you. Unlike athletic or white medical tape, kinesiology tape lets you move normally. Studies on athletes have proven that using kinesiology tape on their fatigued muscles can help them perform better.
Although you should not use kinesiology tape on an open wound, there is some scientific evidence that suggests it can improve the long-term appearance of scars following injury or surgery. It is a treatment you should discuss with a healthcare professional first, though.
Some competitors use kinesiology tape to help them achieve peak performance and to protect against injury while they are competing.
Applying Kinesiology Tape
You should always consult with a physiotherapist who is trained in the proper application of kinesiology tape before you try to do it yourself. They can show you how to apply the tape in a pattern that will treat your specific problem. The tape can be used in an I, X, Y or fan pattern, depending on your needs. You may also require both decompression and stabilization strips. Your physiotherapist can watch you applying and removing the tape before you try it at home on your own.
Steps to Applying Kinesiology Tape
- Clean and dry the area as body oil and lotions can prevent it from sticking.
- Trim excess hair. Fine hair should not be a problem, but dense hair could keep the tape from getting a stable grip on your skin.
- Start by splitting the backing paper in the middle.
- Cut the corners round on the ends of each strip if they don’t already have them. Rounded corners are less likely to snag against clothes, keeping the tape on for longer.
- When applying the first tab to anchor the strip, let the end recoil slightly after the backing paper comes off. You do not want any stretch on the last two inches on either end, because those tabs are meant to keep the tape in place. If you pull the ends, the tape will pull on your skin as well, which could make the tape detach sooner or cause irritation.
- Keep your fingers on the backing paper to hold the tape in place. Touching the adhesive part too much will make it less sticky.
- Your physiotherapist can let you know how much stretch to use in the treatment area.
- When stretching the tape, use the whole length of your thumb across the tape to get an even stretch.
- After applying the tape, rub it vigorously for a few seconds. The heat activates the glue. It usually takes about 20 minutes for the tape to stick completely.