What is a kinesiology tape?
Most people would recognize kinesiology tapes as bright-colored tapes with fascinating configurations. A kinesiology tape is a thin and stretchy fabric made from cotton or nylon blend. This stretchy fabric is backed up with an adhesive, which is made from hypoallergenic and medical-grade acrylic. The tape is quite comfortable and flexible. The adhesive tape does not in any way irritate the skin, so it is suitable for all skin types. Kinesiology tapes are latex-free and without any kind of topical medication.
Do not apply the kinesiology tape tightly around the injured part of the body like the traditional athletic tape. Kinesiology tapes should be directly applied to the impacted joint, muscle groups, or its borders. Rigid tapes tend to completely immobilize the injured area, but kinesiology tapes are more supportive and provide pain relief along with allowing a natural and safe range of motions. It allows the athletes to completely participate in rehabilitation, continue their training program, or compete while recovering from injuries or overuse.
Does kinesiology tape really work?
There is a list of benefits provided by kinesiology tapes. The tape has gained a lot of popularity due to its extensive use in therapeutic modalities both in healthcare and athletics. Below are certain features of the kinesiology tape:
- The tape is effective on its own, but can have a greater effect when it is combined with other forms of therapeutic modalities.
- It can be worn for several days and can provide therapeutic benefits for the entire time it has been used.
- It is one of the least expensive and effective therapeutic modalities available.
- There are just a few contraindications without any side effects.
- It is quite simple to use and most individuals can apply it by themselves.
Physical Benefits of Kinesiology Tape
1. Provides Pain Relief
Even though kinesiology tapes do not contain any kind of medication or other topical substances, they can still help in providing effective relief from both chronic and acute kind of pain. Due to the tape's elasticity, it helps in slightly lifting the skin, which in turn instantly reduces the pressure on the sensitive pain receptors under the skin.
In addition, due to its stimulating effect on the pain pathways, it can help provide a competitive kind of stimulus, which blocks the pain signals going to the brain. This tape is effective for pain due to "hot" injuries, wherein the intensity of the pain is mostly out of proportion to the severity of the injury.
2. Reduces Inflammation and Swelling
The removal of the fluids and other materials that get collected in the injured area is enhanced due to a reduction in the pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels. This would not apply only to sports-related injuries, but it also applies to those recovering from surgery and other types of inflammatory conditions such as lymphedema, which is the general swelling of the arms and legs.
3. Faster Recovery from Contusions and Bruises
Kinesiology tape also works by dramatically removing accumulated blood under the skin due to bruising. The kinesiology tape is applied using a fan pattern over the bruised area to dissipate the bruising by the same lifting mechanism as previously described.
4. Prevents and Relieves Muscle Cramps or Spasms
Kinesiology taping tends to enhance blood circulation. It can help improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to fatigued and overused muscles leading to the prevention and relief of muscle cramps or spasms.
5. Speedy Recovery of Overused Muscles
Overused and fatigued muscles usually contain byproducts of exercise such as lactic acid, which contribute to muscle stiffness and pain. When kinesiology tape is applied over these areas, the removal of these byproducts is enhanced leading to a faster recovery. Thus, along with the improved oxygen delivery due to the enhanced flow of blood, athletic performance and endurance events are improved. Complete recovery is also achieved between high-intensity repetitive activities.
6. Supports Injured Muscles Without Limiting Range of Motion (ROM)
Kinesiology tapes can provide support to injured joints or muscles without limiting ROM due to its unique elasticity and application techniques.
7. Athletes Remain Active While Injured
One of the benefits of kinesiology taping is for competitive athletes to remain active while injured. Kinesiology tapes can prevent the overcontraction or overstretching of injured muscles depending on how the tapes are applied. The tape's anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties tend to allow athletes to continue training or competing while their injuries heal.
8. Strengthens and Tones the Muscles
There are certain muscular and neurological disorders that can weaken the muscles, which can cripple people to perform important exercises to improve daily functioning. Aside from providing muscular support, kinesiology taping can also improve the activation of muscles, which allow therapeutic exercises to be effectively carried out.
One particular use of the kinesiology tape is with young children with hypotonia, which is the state of poor muscle tone that limits their ability to crawl and learn to sit up. The application of kinesiology tape can help improve posture as well as assist better mobility.
Types of Kinesiology Tapes
Kinesiology tapes come in different sizes and styles. There are also options available for different body sizes, injuries or health conditions, and skin types. Moreover, kinesiology tapes are available for every level of expertise, from inexperienced users to health professionals.
Anyone can learn how to apply kinesiology tapes. There are printable instructions and videos available for a variety of injuries or health conditions. Below is a list of the different types of kinesiology tapes.
1. Uncut Rolls
There are a variety of widths and lengths when it comes to uncut rolls of kinesiology tapes.
- Single Rolls - These rolls are suitable for personal or home use. It has an average length of 16 feet.
- Bulk Rolls - These rolls have an average length of 105 feet and are used in hospitals and therapy clinics. They are also used by trainers, athletes, and other people who tape a lot.
Uncut rolls are highly recommended for individuals with basic knowledge in kinesiology taping or those who are new to kinesiology taping. Beginners can follow instructions when it comes to the cutting and application of the tape according to their needs. Uncut rolls are extensively used in healthcare settings.
2. Precut Strips
Precut kinesiology tape strips were designed to effectively create the most common tape applications to save time from tape cutting. There are also a variety of precut configurations and sizes available.
- Serrated Rolls - Some strips come in serrated rolls, which allow easy tearing and application of the strips. Others also come in packages or boxes of individual strips.
- X, Y, I and Edema (Fan) Configurations - Precut strips are also available in X, Y, I, and edema strips. They come in lengths from 6″ to 12″. These strips allow significant customization, which can be easily applied using a variety of combinations or individual application. All you need to do is to remove the backing for a quick application of the strips.
3. Precut Applications for Certain Parts of the Body
Precut applications are mainly designed for specific body parts. These tape applications do not require measuring, cutting, or designing, which make them ideal for people who are new to kinesiology taping.
- Kindmax and SpiderTech - These are precut applications that are made from single wide pieces of tape. The backing is labeled and serrated, which makes it easier to apply one section at a time. They also have a step-by-step instruction for the application.
- Kinesio Precuts and StrengthTape Taping Kits - These are a collection of precut strips in different sizes and quantities for different parts of the body. They come with a set of instructions for several different methods of taping application. These kits are portable and convenient because no measuring or cutting is required. They are the best items to have in case of athletic injury emergencies. These tapes can be used by those who wish to experience the benefits of kinesiology taping but have no experience or training. It can also be used by healthcare professionals who prefer to save time in their clinics.
There are not enough scientific or medical evidence to confirm the tape's effectiveness. According to several research studies, there were no clinically important results found to support the tape's pain-relieving effects. Although the tape possesses substantial effects on muscle activity, it is still unclear whether the changes were beneficial or harmful.