Learn more about Kinesio Tape
Kinesio Tape- what is it? My weekend life consists of many baseball tournaments with my son and his team. The other day I had parent ask me about the purpose of the athletic tape that they are noticing more and more athletes using it. They had questions about how it works and if their son would benefit from getting tape. That tape is called Kinesio Tape (K-tape) and it has many purposes. I thought this is a subject I would explain further by writing about. I have attended classes on how to apply the tape and have used it in practice many times. The tape has many uses based on the need of the patient and the amount of stretch that is used during the application. Chiropractors and Physical Therapists are the most common occupations using K-tape. You do not have to be a world-class athlete to benefit from K-tape, the uses are endless. I am going to break down the most common uses below in a list form. If any of these uses sound like they could benefit you, please call your local chiropractor or PT and make an appointment to talk about applying K-tape on you.
- Pain Relief
- The theory and research suggest that the use of T-tape in this way helps reduce pain. The tape lifts the superficial layer of skin off the injured fascia and nerves, thus causing less irritation to that area. It should not be used on open wounds; the use here is for a type of dull or mild sharp pain. I have used this application for helping patients suffering from Sciatica with Sacroilitis pain. The use of the Kinesio Tape after a chiropractic adjustment helps the patient have less pain during their day-to-day activities. The use of the tape is introduced when the patient first comes in for care and is used for the first 2 weeks. While I’m correcting the spinal mis-alignment the tape helps relieve pain over sciatic nerve. The K-tape has great adhesion and will stay in place for many days and the patient can even shower with the tape still staying firmly in place. The tape is usually removed at the office and a fresh tapping is reapplied on the next visit.
- Reduced Swelling, Inflammation and Bruising
- This helps remove fluid that has accumulated due to swelling or bruising. The theory behind this is the offloading effect that the tape has when it is applied to the skin. When applied with some stretch to the skin and tape, the elastic recoil of the tape provides a lifting force on the skin. This creates convolutions on the skin that decompress the lymphatic vessels, allowing exudates to be removed from the area more easily, reducing swelling. This improves circulation to the area allowing bruising to be cleared more quickly. I had a patient that had a massive bruise on their knee and used K-tape and explained this would remove the bruise in half the time. I left some of the area uncovered just so she could see the affect of the treated area to the untreated area. She peeled the tape off 2 days later with the hope, she said, of “proving me wrong just once.” To her disappointment the treated area was ½ as dark as the untreated area. I had to laugh when she shared that story on her next visit.
- Prevention or Relief from Spasms and Cramping (muscle fatigue)
- This use enhances circulation, which helps delivery more oxygen to muscles, which in turn keeps them from cramping or becoming overly fatigued due the removal of lactic acid. Over fatigued muscles can lead to an injury. Studies that relate K-tape as giving more strength to the muscle have all shown that it does not strengthen the muscle or create more force within the muscle during use. What has been proven in studies is that K-tape keeps the muscle from being fatigued slower thus allowing more reps at full strength. This was proven in a study at Perth Integrated Health Clinic with a vertical jump test. I have used K-tape on myself to help reduce muscle fatigue in my calves while jogging. Usually this is the part of my body where I feel pain and burning the most after 3 miles. With the K-tape I notice I can run longer before I feel pain and also notice that I am less sore after a longer run the following day. Believe me, I’m no world-class athlete, but the K-tape has helped me. This is also how K-tape can benefit the baseball player I mentioned at the start of the article.
- Structural Support for Weak or Injured Body Parts
- It protects an injured joint from harmful movement by reducing its range of motion. This is the traditional use of athletic tape. The difference is that with the elastic in the tape it can still offer limited range of motion while protecting the motion that is painful. If you have ever had your ankles wrapped for athletic competition then you know how much the old tape limits your ankles ability to move normal. I felt the tape was like wearing a cast. With the K-tape you can stretch the tape to its max at the injured area thus limiting the painful motion. The rest of the tape that wraps the ankle is not as tight and acts as more of an anchor for the securing tape. This is much more comfortable during the activity. After the competition is done new tape can the reapplied with less tension to promote healing. The K-tape can also be used to retrain the body for postural corrections. This is where, as a chiropractor, I have seen great effects. As an example, to help with neck pain and mid-back pain the shoulder blades and neck can be taped. This will give over active muscles a chance to rest and weak muscles the opportunity to work again and support the body. Most postural issues are the result of a certain set of muscles not working while another set is overworked, taking up the slack. These postural corrections can be applied to the body for structural support, after an adjustment. The combination of the adjustment and tape really kick starts postural changes while helping maintain the new adjustment for a longer period of time.
I hope that this gives you an idea of how Kinesio Tape or K-tape can be used for you in different situations. Whether it’s for a weekend warrior or to help speed the recovery of an injury, K-tape can be helpful for you. Seek out a chiropractor or PT to ask if the K-tape can benefit you and see if they can teach you how to apply it. There are many brands of K-tape with even more colors and designs that be purchased by anyone. K-tape; it’s like duct tape for the body.
-Dr Travis Early, DC
Cameron, M.L., Adams, R.D.., Maher, C.G,. & Misson D., (2009) Effects of the Hamsprint drills training programme on lower limb neuromuscular controlnin Australian football players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 12 (1) 24-30
Campobianco, Steven, & Van Den Dries, Greg, (2009) Taping movements not muscles, Power Taping version 3.2. Rocktape Inc.