Sports Medicine
Sports Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation

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Voted Best Sports Therapy Clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area 2010-2018!

Kinesiology Taping

About Kinesiology Tape

What is Kinesiology Tape?

Kinesiology tape is a thin, stretchy, therapeutic tape that can benefit a wide variety of injuries and inflammatory conditions. It is almost identical to human skin in both thickness and elasticity, which allows it to be worn without binding, constricting or restriction of movement.

What Makes Kinesiology Tape Different?

Traditional athletic tape is wrapped tightly around an injured area to provide rigid support and restrict movement. It must be removed immediately after activity to restore movement and circulation. Kinesiology tape, on the other hand, is thin and flexible, allowing it to provide dynamic support while still allowing a safe and functional range of motion. Rather than being wrapped completely around an injured area, kinesiology tape is applied directly over or around the periphery of the area. Most applications can be worn 4-5 days, even during intense exercise, showering, bathing or swimming.  Therapeutic benefits accumulate 24/7 for the entire time the tape is worn.

What Conditions Can Kinesiology Taping Be Used For?

How Kinesiology Tape Works

How can something that contains no medications or topical ingredients be so effective at relieving pain, inflammation and swelling? It’s all related to the way the tape interacts with the skin, the nerves under the skin and the circulatory system in the injured area. Following is a simplified explanation of the major mechanisms of action:

Without Kinesiology Tape:
When a muscle or joint is overused or injured, that area becomes inflamed or swollen. This swelling is composed of blood (internal bleeding from the injury) and other fluids. The excess fluid should be removed by the lymphatic vessels in the area, but if the inflammation is great enough, the lymphatic vessels get compressed and can’t do their job. This can lead to an ongoing cycle of inflammation and pain, which limits performance and slows the healing process.

With Kinesiology Tape:
When kinesiology tape is applied to the skin over an inflamed area, the stretch in the tape gently lifts the skin, creating a space between the skin and the tissues below. This creates an area of negative pressure, allowing both blood vessels and lymphatic vessels to dilate (open), increasing the circulation of both fluids. Improved blood flow enhances delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the injured tissues, accelerating the healing process. When lymphatic vessels dilate, the fluid that has collected in the injured area can drain away. This reduces swelling, which relieves pressure on the pain receptors providing immediate pain relief.

But Wait … there’s more! Additional mechanisms that also come into play involve an intricate interplay between the body’s sensory system, neurological system and muscular system. The ongoing, low level sensory stimulation from the tape on the skin activates pain gating mechanisms that assist in the relief of chronic pain. They also allow restoration of normal muscle activation, restoring strength and mobility in muscles that may have been inhibited by pain or injury.

Benefits of Kinesiology Taping

In order to appreciate the benefits of kinesiology tape, it is important to understand how it differs from other types of athletic tape or medical tape. Most of these tapes are fairly thick and non-elastic. This allows them to provide rigid support to an injured area, limiting movement to protect it from further injury. Kinesiology tape, on the other hand, has unique elastic properties that allow it to provide dynamic support, protecting the muscles and/or joints, while still allowing a safe and functional range of motion. It is the only tape that actually has therapeutic benefits that include enhancing muscle function and accelerating the healing process. Following are some of the many benefits provided by kinesiology tape:

  • Pain Relief
    Both the physical action of the tape on the skin as well as its interaction with neurosensory processes in the body allow it to provide relief of either acute or chronic pain. This is especially effective for pain from “hot” injuries, where the intensity of the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the injury.
  • Reduced Swelling and Inflammation
    Reduced pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels enhances removal of fluids and other materials that collect in an injured area. This applies not only to sports injuries, but also to post-surgical recovery and other inflammatory conditions, including lymphedema (severe swelling of the extremities.)
  • Prevents and/or Relieves Spasms and Cramping
    The same features that reduce inflammation can help prevent or relieve spasms and cramps in overused or injured muscles.
  • Speedier Recovery of Overused Muscles
    Fatigued, overused muscles contain byproducts of exercise (such as lactic acid) that contribute to pain and stiffness and limit the ability to continue exercising. When kinesiology tape is used over these areas, enhanced removal of these byproducts allows for more rapid recovery. This could translate into improved performance in an endurance event or more complete recovery between repetitive, high intensity events.
  • Provides Support without Restricting Range of Motion
    The unique elastic properties of kinesiology tape allow it to provide support to injured muscles or joints without restricting range of  motion .
  • Allows Athletes to Remain Active while Injured
    This is one of the most important benefits of kinesiology taping for competitive athletes. When used as a therapeutic athletic tape, kinesiology tape can prevent either overstretching or over-contraction of injured muscles. Except in the case of severe injuries, this can allow athletes to continue training and/or competing as their injuries heal.
  • Enhances Strength and Muscle Tone in Weak or Poorly-Toned Muscles
    Certain neurological or muscular disorders can make muscles so weak that it is almost impossible to do the exercises that are critical to improve daily functioning. Kinesiology tape not only provides support to these muscles, but it can also improve muscle activation, allowing therapeutic exercises to be carried out more effectively. One of the major uses in this category is with infants and young children with hypotonia, poor muscle tone that limits their ability to learn to sit up, crawl, etc.

How Do I Get Kinesio Tape?

Easy, we have Precuts available in our Walnut Creek location, and in our Online Store.

Kinesio Precuts set a new standard for convenience and flexibility. Applications for the back, foot, knee, shoulder, neck and wrist,come in individual foil packets. Each packet contains a set of single-use tape strips with an illustrated step-by-step instruction sheet. The back of each strip has cutting guides for small, medium and large individuals, making Precut KinesioTape the first customizable precuts in the industry.

Kinesio Precuts are the first KinesioTape products designed for consumer use. Each application has been carefully designed for simple taping at light tension levels. The goal of each application is to directly impact the muscle tissues and surrounding fascia to treat the underlying causes of inflammation and pain. They are suitable for a wide variety of conditions, including muscle stiffness, overuse syndromes, strains and sprains.

Applying and Removing Kinesio Tape:
Learning how to apply kinesiology tape properly will help you optimize the  benefits of each application, reduce the occurrence of skin irritation and prevent the tape from coming off prematurely. Because kinesiology tape is both waterproof and breathable, it can be worn during exercise, showering, and even swimming. It dries quickly and seldom causes skin irritation. When properly applied, most kinesiology tape applications will last up to 5 days. Following the tips below will ensure optimal benefits from each taping.

Skin Preparation:

Skin should be dry and free of any lotions, creams or oils, including sunscreen or liniments. To ensure optimal skin condition, clean with soap and water, then wipe the entire area to be taped with rubbing alcohol. If person has been exercising, ensure that perspiration has completely stopped before applying tape.
Small amounts of body hair will not interfere with the effectiveness or adhesion of the tape. Areas with significant amounts of hair should be clipped or shaved for best results – and for less pain when tape is removed!

Wearing The Tape:

Wait at least 1 hour after applying tape to engage in activity that causes sweating. Do not swim or shower for at least 1 hour following application.
To dry tape after exercising, swimming or showering, pat gently with a towel. Do not use a hair dryer – the adhesive is heat-activated, and may become difficult to remove.
Any edges that begin to peel can be trimmed with scissors to prevent further peeling.

Do not apply kinesiology tape on any skin surface that is damaged – this includes scrapes, cuts, burns, sunburn or any type of rash or irritation. Individuals with sensitive skin should apply a test piece for up to 24 hours before a full taping. If skin irritation occurs, remove tape immediately.

Dealing With Skin Irritation:

Kinesiology tape is made from 100% high-grade cotton, with a hypoallergenic acrylic adhesive. The tape contains no latex and no medications. This makes it very comfortable with a low probability of skin irritation. Individuals with extremely sensitive skin, however, may still experience rash, itching or irritation. The following products have been anecdotally reported to minimize skin irritation when applied prior to tape application: Benadryl® Itch Stopping Gel, Maalox®, TENS Clean-Cote® Skin Wipes. Be sure to let any pre-taping skin preparation dry completely before applying tape.

Removing The Tape:

Skin cells begin sloughing after 5 days, which will make tape easier to remove. Techniques for removing tape include: (a) pressing down on the skin at the end of the taped area, while gently rolling or peeling the tape straight back, (b) pulling tape edge back gently as the index finger slides or vibrates back and forth where the tape joins the skin.
It is more comfortable to remove tape in the direction of hair growth, which is usually away from the center of the body on the trunk, and in a downward direction on the arms or legs.
Tape that is still strongly adhered to skin after 5 days may be loosened by soaking with baby oil or olive oil for 15-20 minutes minutes before attempting to remove it.