Kinesiology tape is a thin elastic tape that is applied directly to the skin. The tape can be of cotton or synthetic material with an adhesive backing that sticks well to skin. Depending on the brand, it has the ability to stretch from 130 to 180 percent of its original length. This allows the taped area to move without restriction, but also provides support to muscles and joints. Kinesiology tape is most often used for musculoskeletal conditions (issues arising from muscles and joints), but also is used for reducing inflammation, improving circulation, and promoting lymphatic drainage.
Once applied, the tape may last anywhere from a day to a week, but skin type and activity level will influence that. Skin with a lot of hair can be problematic, so shaving such areas can prevent a “waxing” experience when the tape is removed!
Yes! You can shower, swim, sweat, and take baths with it. Some people say getting it wet decreases the time the it lasts, while other people report no change.
Kinesiology tape contains no medication, latex, or known allergens. It is a non-invasive, non-restricting, and researched treatment option for people looking for an alternative to pain medications and traditional therapies.
Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD) is an often painful condition that plagues much of the adult population. Lost cartilage and slackened ligaments result in abnormal wear on the joints that can be extreme enough to limit daily activities. Arthritis can occur in any joint, but mostly affects knees, hips, hands, feet, and the spine. A 2014 study showed kinesiology tape to be effective in reducing knee pain and improving the ability to climb stairs1. These improvements suggest that kinesiology taping may offer promise for those suffering from arthritis in other joints, though research has yet to be conducted.
Post-surgical healing. Major joint replacement surgery is common today, and often these are the same joints susceptible to arthritis (hips, shoulders, and knees). Afterward, reducing pain, controlling swelling, and improving mobility become primary concerns in the healing process. Taping has been shown to reduce post-operative pain, swelling, and improve knee mobility in patients with total knee replacements2.
Posture and back pain. Poor control of postural muscles is one of the major symptoms of cerebral palsy. Studies have demonstrated kinesiology tape to positively affect sitting posture in individuals with cerebral palsy, which can have a great impact on the quality of life in people with this condition3. Similarly, when kinesio tape was applied to patients with chronic lower back pain, their posture control muscles were positively affected and lower back pain was reduced4.
Shoulder impingement is a common source of pain, and frequently occurs as a result of repetitive motion and doing things with the arms over the head. Kinesiology tape has been shown to be more effective than traditional local physical therapy modalities in treating this condition5.
Lymphedema occurs when the lymph nodes, critical parts of your immune system, are not functioning properly, usually as a result of cancer treatments. This causes swelling in the area, as the lymph nodes are not able to filter and circulate fluid like they are supposed to. Taping has been shown to help with swelling from excess lymphatic fluid and could help improve lymphatic uptake6.
Menstruation cramps can be very painful. Certain taping techniques have even been shown to make significant reductions in pain associated with menses7.
Getting Taped. With a little direction from a practitioner trained in the therapy, you can go on to tape yourself to experience some of these benefits. You might find that assistance from a variety of practitioners, including Chiropractors, Massage Therapists/Bodyworkers, and Physical Therapists, but no one modality teaches taping as an integral part of the coursework, so you may need to ask around.
To read a full article written by Dr. Cassie on kinesiology taping, Click here!