Kinesiology tape was originally developed to help top athletes, and it is now commonly used both by those training for and competing in sporting events, and those who do not consider themselves sporting who suffer certain types of injury.
The tape itself is made of cotton fabric backed with a latex free and water resistant adhesive. The tape is extremely stretchy along its length, but not across its width, and it is this property which makes it so useful.
It can be used to treat a problem when massage would not be appropriate, for example, in the first few days after suffering a major muscle tear (when massage would only cause further damage to the tissues), or in cases where the injury is to a tendon or ligament (when massage runs the risk of just causing further inflammation so can only be used to limited effect). And it can be used in combination with massage to provide an ongoing benefit to the client after the treatment has ended.
So how does it work?
Typically K Tape is applied both along the line of the muscle where the injury occurs, and a second piece is placed cross-wise to the first, with the crossing point covering the actual injury. One or both the tapes is applied under stretch, which brings a number of benefits.
- The injured area is supported. This is similar to what happens with conventional tape or the use of tubular or other bandages, but these do not have the further benefits below.
- The application of tape makes the client more aware of the injury and the stretch applied means that the tape will tight up before the tissues underneath, which provides an early warning sign not to overdo movements while the injury is healing.
- The stretch helps to lift the skin layer away from the lower tissues, which then improves circulation, which in turn will reduce inflammation and so reduce pain.
- Because the tape can be left on for several days, it provides a therapeutic benefit around the clock. It can even be left in place whilst taking a bath or shower.
- Injured areas tend to heal faster with K Tape applied.
Kinesiology taping is a useful addition to the range of techniques in Sports and Remedial Massage, both to be used alongside massage treatment, and for those times when massage is ruled out.