Kinesio Tape: Purpose and Tips for Use

There are always new products and trends entering into the world of sports. For athletes, it can sometimes be very hard to distinguish between which products really work, and which ones are best for their personal needs. One product that has been making waves more recently and creating a lot of discussion is called “Kinesio Tape.”

Diagram of arm wearing pink kinesio tape

What Is It?

Kinesio Tape was created by a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist named Kenzo Kase. Kase created the tape and started using the product in 1979, but only recently has it started to gain recognition and popularity. The tape’s creator can thank the London Olympics of 2012 for its newfound fame; many star athletes started wearing the tape during their performances and, since then, it’s been rumored that sales have tripled worldwide.

Kase initially wanted to create the tape when he found that the regular athletic tape material was too restricting. Kase believed that the tough material might be worsening injuries instead of alleviating them. He created a tape made of an elastic, cotton material with an acrylic adhesive, to better serve the purpose of alieving pain and assisting muscles.

Rolls of kinesio tape

How Does It Work?

The original athletic tape was meant specifically for offering stabilization and support, with little room for movement. The Kinesio Tape is meant to offer support to the muscles and stability to joints, without affecting circulation or the range of motion. The tape does this by reducing compression between the skin and the muscle that causes discomfort, and can help to reduce inflammation and reduce soreness. The space that is created between the skin and muscle is very slight, but it is enough to make a difference in the blood flow and release of pressure.

Athletes generally create a tight pull with the tape around the affected area using a variety of different patterns and designs. Depending on the design, athletes can tackle more than one muscle or sore area just by using a large piece of tape stretching across large or small sections.

Aside from helping specific muscles, the tape can gently tug specific areas to improve posture, increase blood flow, and help with lymphatic drainage.

Leg with kinesio tape being pulled around it

What Is Its Purpose?

The Kinesio Tape website explains that the tape is not only for athletes, but for everyday use as well. The tape can be used in the workplace for sore joints, at home while doing housework or gardening, and even just for simple everyday activities like walking.

Essentially, the tape is for anyone who is experiencing soreness or who wants to help relieve areas of tension. Whether this is caused by repetitive training, sport injuries, or poor posture, the tape is meant to help with all of these problems. The purpose of the tape is to be a more effective substitute than the restrictive options that regular tape used to offer.

Tips for Use

Before use, it is important that you have at least some level of training to tape yourself or someone else. Taping improperly can lead to great injury. The Kinesio Tape company has already trained over 100,000 sports doctors across the globe on the proper use of the product to ensure that athletes get the maximum benefits.

As a general rule, the skin should be dry and clean prior to applying tape, to ensure that it stays in place throughout performance. If you’re not sure if any lotion residue is still on the skin, simply wipe the area with rubbing alcohol to make sure it’s clean.

If you’re taping over joints, be sure that the joint is in a fully-bent position prior to taping. If the joint is in an extended position, then the tape will likely be pulled away when the joint is bent. For best results, make sure to firmly rub the tape from end to end, making sure that there are no bubbles or edges rising off of the skin. If you’re planning to use the tape for an athletic activity, try to apply the tape at least 30 minutes prior, so that the tape has enough time to adhere properly.

If you’re an athlete who wears any kind of bracing for sports, Kinesio Tape is thin and lightweight enough that it will fit comfortably underneath.

Kinesio Tape will not be able to heal an injury all on its own; there are many other practices that can work in combination with the tape to help protect injuries and relieve pain. Other rehabilitation and preventative options that can work alongside Kinesio Tape include quality bracing, strengthening exercises, and conditioning.

If you’re thinking about using Kinesio Tape for any reason, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor ahead of time to speak about your injuries. He or she may be able to suggest some alternative routes for proper healing.

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