What’s that coloured tape?

You may have seen it on footballers, athletes or even someone at the gym - that coloured tape on shoulders, knees, calves and more, you may have even had it applied to yourself. Kinesiology tape - what is it? What are the benefits? And who can apply it?

The predecessor to Kinesiology Tape (KT Tape) is rigid tape. An adhesive tape that helps to hold muscles, connective tissue and even joints in place while they are repairing from injury. Rigid tape minimises the movements to the injured area to allow for healing.

Kinesiology tape (KT Tape) was created in the 1970s by a japanese chiropractor, Dr Kenzo Kase, who wanted to provide his clients a way to support their muscles and joints while also allowing them to move freely unlike the classic rigid tape. KT Tape is made out of cotton and nylon, making it a stretchy material. It is known to help mimic the skin’s elasticity so it does not limit our range of motion when performing activities. The adhesive on the tape is also water resistant allowing it to stay on our skin for three to five days. It can be categorised as a therapeutic tool. It can be stretched to 100% to create more of a skin stretch/pull enhancing the intensity of the tape.

So rather than limit the range of motion to assist with healing it supports the injured area through its normal range of motion.

Due to the stretchy construction and the way it is applied, it can help to create space between the skin and soft tissues underneath. This results in;

  1. Changing pain receptor signals

  2. Assists with recovery and healing from injuries

  3. Provide support by unloading and creating space for a joint that is usually unstable

  4. Increases blood and lymph circulation, which can help with swelling

  5. Improving movement performance

What can we use kinesiology tape for?

A lot of physical and bodywork therapists may use kinesiology tape as a part of a treatment plan to give extra support to a muscle or joint that has an injury or is unstable. As the tape performs a supportive function it can help to improve the range of motion for the injured area. It can also alter the perception of pain, allowing for continued use of the joint and soft tissues, while supporting to ensure no further injury will occur.

Kinesiology tape is most effective when combined with manual therapy such as massage and functional movement to help with injury recovery and also prevention. If you have a weakness or area that has been injured a number of times KT Tape can be used to provide preventative support when you engage in your usual sporting activities.

Kinesiology tape is also known to help with the posture. Research has found that by applying kinesiology tape on our neck and shoulders it can help retrain muscles to provide greater balanced and correct posture. There have also been studies on kinesiology tape helping people who had suffered from strokes to walk again. This occurs as the tape creates awareness of the muscles and helps the brain to recreate connections to those muscles. This same concept is often used by runners who use KT tape on their gluteal region when running a marathon to help muscle activation, which provides power for their stride.

How is Kinesiology Tape applied?

The application of KT tape depends on the requirements of the clients body. Therapists are required to take a one day course to learn the correct application of KT Tape for specific injuries, supportive and preventative purposes.

When to not apply Kinesiology Tape?

As with anything, there are times when KT Tape is simply not the tool that provides any benefit and may even be harmful. It shouldn’t be used in any of the following circumstances;

  • Open wounds | as it is an adhesive it is counterindicated

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis | as the application of KT Tape can help with circulation, it may aide a DVT to move through the body and cause a fatal incident

  • Active Cancers as it can promote blood supply to cancer cells

  • Allergy to adhesives

  • Skin that is prone to peeling easily, aging skin which can be too thin

At muscle medicine our remedial therapists (Coby, Laura & Steph) are all able to tape if they feel it will benefit the recovery, stability or prevention after assessment and treatment. Our taping is also included in our treatments if it’s required, no additional fees will be charged.

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