Kinesiology Tape for Muscular Support
The proper application of kinesiology tape supports muscles while allowing athletes a natural range of motion.
Kinesiology tape has been widely used in almost all sports for the past five years. It is used to support muscle movement, lessen inflammation and reduce pain.
Kinesiology tape is useful for athletes because it helps support and stretch injured muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is purposely created to mimic the thickness and stretch of human skin so it does not bind or constrict movement. Athletes find it useful because, unlike traditional taping methods, kinesiology tape allows for a full range of motion. Traditional taping methods provide rigid support for the taped area and can only be worn for a short period of time due to the risk damage due to poor circulation.
Kinesiology tape is not wrapped around affected areas, but it is placed on top of or next to injuries. It can be worn for up to five days, through exercise time, showers, saunas or swimming. The patient just needs to wait one hour before the tape becomes wet or sweaty.
In addition to supporting weak or injured areas, kinesiology tape is used to reduce swelling by lifting the skin off the underlying muscles, allowing the lymph and venous drainage systems to work more effectively around the swollen or bruised tissue. Some people think this tape can also assist with the removal of lactic acid buildup during long-term exercise.
Kinesiology tape can also help with joint proprioception retraining, joint hypermobility and poor posture.
When a joint is taped with kinesiology tape, the natural range of motion is supported but once a joint begins to go past that point the tape will begin to ‘feel stretched’ on the skin. This subtle signal will allow the wearer to scale back their motion and keep the joint within the proper range of motion.
By taping the back properly, a patient will be able to feel when his posture is out of the proper alignment and will be able to sit or stand properly. With practice and continued muscle strengthening, the proper posture will become more prevalent.
Kinesiology tape is also used for patients with arthritis or joint, ligament or muscle strains. The tape is a gentler form of support that doesn’t need to be removed or rewrapped nearly as often.
There is an art to applying kinesiology tape that comes with practice. Until you have learned how to apply it well, consult with a physiotherapist for advice on tape placement and the amount of stretch required.
How to Apply Kinesiology Tape
The first thing to do is make sure the skin is free from all oily lotions and moisturizing soaps by cleaning it with rubbing alcohol. Excess hair should be removed because it will pull after the tape is applied.
Kinesiology tape is meant to be stretched as it is applied to the patient. To apply it properly, cut the desired length and remove a small portion of the backing. This part of the tape will be the anchor end. It is applied to the skin with no tension. Since the adhesive is heat-activated, it is important not to touch the adhesive side once the backing paper has been removed, and make sure to use the heat from your hand to activate the adhesive on the anchor.
The next step is to remove the paper from all but the tail end of the tape, stretch it appropriately (consult your physiotherapist here) and apply the tape to the skin. Again, warm it with a bit of friction from your hands and finally remove the last of the backing paper and apply the tail of the tape without any tension.
Kinesiology tape will not stick to other pieces of tape, so it must be anchored directly on skin. It is perfectly fine to run one piece of tape over another though.
To date there is not a large body of evidence to support the efficacy of kinesiology taping as a medical practice but if an athlete thinks it will improve performance, and it isn’t detrimental, then there is nothing wrong with taping them.