Benefits and applications
Taping athletes has been a widely used technique to aid in the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries as well as to provide support to the joint or muscle area during movement. Kinesio tape is an elastic therapeutic tape used in the treatment of sports injuries and various other disorders. It was developed by a Dr. Kenso Kase, a Japanese chiropractor, and its use was widely noticed when the tape was donate to athletes from approximately 60 countries during the 2008 Olympic games (Thelen, et al, 2008). It was designed to be able to stretch up to 120% of its original length and retract back to its original size when not stretched. The benefit to this elasticity is that it will exert tension on the skin when applied correctly. This tension then pulls on the skin and increases the space between the dermis and the underlying connective tissues, hence increasing fluid flow in these areas. There are competing studies that continue to measure the effectiveness of the kinesiology tape in all categories. Kinesio tape is typically made with a thin, porous cotton fabric to allow the skin to breathe and the adhesive is a water-repellant, medical-grade acrylic adhesive.
Proposed benefits of kinesiology taping vs traditional athletic taping (Williams, 2012):
Decreases pain (some cases)
Allows mobility with normal function
Restricts fluid exchange
Restricts circulation and blood flow
Application considerations (Kase, 1996):
- For muscles that are injured or overused, needing relief and healing from pain and tightness, apply the tape with no tension, starting from the tendons that hold the muscle to the bone and extending toward the origin of the muscle. (In some case, tension up to 15% may be used)
- For chronically injured or weakened muscles, needing support and full range of motion, apply the tape with light tension (25 – 50%), starting from the origin of the muscle and extending toward the tendons that hold the muscle to the bone.
- Use 50-75% tension, when joints or ligaments are damaged.
How to prepare the taping site:
- The skin must be clean; no oils or lotions
- Hair removal in the affected area may be necessary to provide sufficient support without additional pain from the tape adhering to the hair.
- Check the skin for open sores, abrasions, and sensitivity.
- For example, caution should be taken if the athlete has eczema or psoriasis in the affected area
Caution should be used and advice should be sought after when looking to apply the tape to the following areas:
- Ulnar side of elbow: caution due to Ulnar nerve
- Posterior knee: Take caution
- Pregnant abdomen: Facilitation only
- If currently under treatment for any form of cancer: Do not want to promote lymph movement
- Contact your physician to see if kinesio tape is right for you.
- If you feel “Pins and Needles” or numbness under tape, gently remove tape.
- If skin irritation occurs, gently remove tape and seek advice.
There are many competing brands that offer the benefits of kinesiology tape, like SureTape , StrengthTape and McDavid Tape. It is important to do your own investigation and decide which brand and tape type is right for your body and athletic needs. When purchasing kinesiology tape, be sure to read all application and safety instructions prior to use.
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. It is important to seek advice from a physician if chronic pain occurs and before starting any medical treatments.
- 1.Crawford, S. (2016). How kinesio tape works. http://science.howstuffworks.com/kinesiology-tape.htm.
- 2.Fu, T-C, Wong, A.M.K, Pei, Y-C, et al. (2008). Effect of kinesio taping on muscle strength in athletes: a pilot study. J Sci Med Sport. 11 (2), 198-201.
- 3.Thelen, M.D., Dauber, J.A., Stoneman, P.D. (2008). The clinical efficacy of kinesio tape for shoulder pain: a randomized, double-blinded, clinical trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 38 (7), 389-395.
- 4.Williams, S., Whatman, C., Hume, P.A., Sheerin, K. (2012). Kinesio taping in the treatment and prevention of sports injuries. Sports Med. 42 (2), 153-164.