You’ve seen people wear the sometimes colorful stretch tape that goes in all directions. Is it a fashion statement or are there benefits to kinesiology tape? Let’s dig.
Although it may seem like just another fad in the sports world, kinesiology tape (or kinesio tape or KT tape) is a therapeutic tool used for a wide variety of health-related purposes. Jillyan Long, Registered Physical Therapist Assistant at Tulsa Physical Therapy Specialistsexplains: “Kinesio taping is the process of using a specially designed elastic band on the body for several different purposes such as pain relief, decompression and neuromuscular rehabilitation at the sensory level.
And the KT tape is not only limited to athletes or one application area, and can be applied for many uses. “There is a huge list of possible uses for therapy tape,” says Long. From increased stability and support to reduced joint swelling following injury, and it doesn’t stop there.
Many band users can increase mobility, improve lymph flow, improve recovery, support proper form and posture, and prevent or treat many common muscle and joint injuries. It adds support and pain relief before, during and after activities and is even used as a lower back support for pregnant women.
The space-creating benefits of the KT tape
What makes kinesiology tape unique is that it is designed to have the same elasticity as our skin. Abbey Denaro, DC, owner and chiropractor at Denaro Chiropractic in North Reading, MA, explains it this way: “When the tape is applied, you will see the tape crinkle; it basically becomes another layer of skin, and the skin puckers up with the tape.
This is where the magic happens. “It creates space between the skin and the muscles, fascia and soft tissue underneath,” she adds.
This extra space is beneficial for three reasons:
- “It helps increase blood and lymph circulation, and for healing to occur, there needs to be good blood flow to the tissues,” says Denaro. “The increased circulation under the band promotes healing.” This is why the extra space created by tape is so vital; the lymphatic system is responsible for moving fluid and swelling, so the tape helps to drain inflammation from the affected area.
- The second benefit of the extra space is better fabric sliding over each other. “When muscles, fascia, and other soft tissues have improved ‘gliding and sliding’, mobility and range of motion are positively affected,” says Denaro. It can be a great overall improvement in daily activities from the gym to your job.
- Finally, “The third benefit of creating space is the decompression of pain receptors so that the individual can function with less pain,” says Denaro. Essentially, creating a better quality of life, especially if you suffer from pain.
Who should register you?
Although you can buy KT tape online and in many stores, Long strongly encourages you to seek professional help when you want to be taped. “Typically, these recording methods are used in conjunction with an individualized training or rehabilitation program,” says Long.
So, before placing your order, understand that there is more to the registration process than just pasting it. “That’s why taping certification courses are offered as continuing education courses for health and fitness professionals.” So it can be done correctly and efficiently.
Although chiropractors, physical therapists and certified personal trainers are most likely to apply the tape, Denaro says that as long as you know how to apply it and where to apply it, you may be able to do it yourself. “Patients can be instructed by their doctor or trainer on how to do this,” says Denaro. If you feel like getting stuck, make sure you have the proper training and guidance to get ahead.
KT tape can be misapplied
This is something you want to do correctly, and Long explains that when done on your own, KT tape can be applied incorrectly. “If you’re not extremely familiar with your anatomy, you can inadvertently encourage incorrect biomechanical patterns by placing the tape strips in areas you don’t want to facilitate.” This is another reason to seek a professional for application or advice.
Long adds, “Extreme tension on the tape or using too large pieces can lead to skin irritation and blistering, leading to a bigger problem than you had to begin with.”
When to say NO to the KT band
Therapy tape can be used on a wide variety of individuals, but there are times when it should be avoided. “If you have very sensitive or fragile skin, I suggest trying another alternative,” says Long. Reaching out to a professional who can guide you in another direction of therapy will ensure that your issues are taken care of.
Also, if you lean towards the hairy side, you may need to avoid sticking tape or grabbing shaving cream. “Those with a lot of hair on their arms and legs may notice that the tape doesn’t adhere as it should, and so you won’t be able to experience the benefits of the tape because it can’t reach your skin,” says Long. . And we now know that secure contact between tape and skin is vital to reaping the full benefits of tape.
These other contraindications should also be kept in mind before reaching for the tape, says Denaro. “Avoid taping tape over an open wound, near an infection, if you have deep vein thrombosis, adhesive allergies, or sensitive skin, during active treatments for cancer and congestive heart failure.” She adds. Consulting a professional before bonding will help avoid unnecessary application.
It might be time to jump on the “strip bandwagon” because of its many benefits, and we don’t blame you. It’s not a magic bullet, but with the many benefits, Long thinks taping would be a great addition to your fitness lifestyle. “The next time you suffer an injury or need an edge for athletic endeavor, add therapeutic tape to your list of possible interventions.” The extra support during training or during recovery will only boost your performance and your results!