Kinesio Tape: A Sticky Subject

Mario Balotelli - Kinesio Tape

Mario Balotelli Photo by Shaun Botterill/Gett

Kinesio Tape: A Sticky Subject

A lot of people have been asking me about Kinesio Tape, especially since interest in it spiked during the recent Olympic Games. The world’s best athletes were seen with colorful tape on various parts of their bodies, sometimes in interesting shapes and designs. I’d like to set the record straight and share my experience with it.

What is Kinesio Tape?

Kinesio Tape is the most prevalent and popular brand of what we call “elastic therapeutic tape.” With a name like that, it’s easy to understand why people prefer the shorter alternative.  It’s a sticky, porous strip of acrylic with a variety of uses in the medical and physical therapy fields. Though it only spiked in popularity in the past few years, Kinesio Tape has been available in one form or another for more than three decades.

How does Kinesio Taping Work?

Kinesio Tape manipulates the nerve endings and blood vessels at the surface of the area where it’s applied. Here are some of the common effects.

  • The tape pulls upper layer of skin creating space between dermis and muscle
  • It provides extra space to Increase lymph flow. When lymph flow is restricted it becomes congested, can lead to swelling which causes pain
  • Improved blood circulation to get more oxygen to muscles and speed healing
  • Decreased sensations  of pain

When can it be Used?

Kinesio Tape has a variety of different applications and advantages.

  • Applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Relaxes overused muscles
  • Supports muscles and joints in motion without affecting circulation
  • Does not restrict movement, allows for full range of motion
  • Can be worn for several days

Kinesio Tape vs. Sports/Athletic Tape

Athletic tape is similar in appearance and function to kinesiology tape, but it has several key differences:

  • Sports tape is wrapped around a joint only for stabilization and support during an athletic event
  • Athletic tape does not have any other function but support
  • This kind of adhesive traps moisture which can lead to skin irritation

Kinesio Tape and Back Pain

Certain kinds of back pain can be greatly relieved by Kinesio Tape:

  • It can help back pain due to muscular strains
  • Provides support, increased lymph flow, reduces inflammation, and accelerates the healing process

Who Can Use Kinesio Tape?

Many people in the following fields will know how to properly apply Kinesio Tape:

  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Athletic trainers
  • Sports medicine personnel

The overall benefits to health of elastic therapeutic tape are as yet unproven. However, it’s my opinion that in certain instances it can be applied to great effect.

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