We’ve all seen athletes with that brightly colored tape wrapped around their muscles. It seems to have become increasingly popular over the past 2 decades, which is why you always see it at most major sporting events and televised games. But what is it, what does it do, and do you need it?
What Is Kinesiology Taping?
Kinesio taping was designed to work in sync with the natural healing process to the body, while also providing stability and rehabilitative support. Originally developed in the ’70s by Japanese Chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase, Kinesiology taping is used by physical therapists with the intention of improving mobility, relieving pain, while also improving the healing process in soft tissues.
Dr. Kenzo found that placing strips of flexible tape in specific directions on the body provided support for muscles, joints, and tendons without limiting movement like the more traditional athletic tapes did.
When the therapeutic tape is applied strategically to the body, it provides long-lasting support for his patients by reducing swelling, increasing mobility, lessening pain, and enhancing recovery, as well as possibly improving performance. Because this medical-grade tape uses an acrylic adhesive that’s both water-resistant and heat-activated to help ensure it stays in place on the skin, Kinesiology tape can be used during big games, while you work out, or even when taking showers for three to five days.
Because Kinesiology taping provides support and stability when muscles, ligaments, and joints are contracted or extended, It can be used to prevent or treat a variety of common injuries such as muscle strains, joint sprains, tendonitis, subluxations, and more. It can also be used to help relax muscles when they’re just tired or overused in general. And because there’s no limitations with range of motion, Kinesio taping can be applied before, during, and after playing sports or many other athletic activities.
How Does Kinesiology Taping Work?
Kinesiology tape basically improves the interaction between skin and the underlying muscles, joints, and tendons to help reset the neural circuitry found in the nervous system. This helps create a balance between skin and the internal mechanisms which results in decreased swelling, realignment of joints, and improved muscle activation, function, and performance.
Kinesiology tape was created to mimic the physical qualities of human skin, with a similar weight, thickness, and elasticity to the epidermis. So, when the Kinesio tape has been applied to your body by a physical therapist, it creates a microscopic space in between your skin and the internal tissues beneath by gently recoiling and slightly lifting your skin. This prevents muscles from over-stretching or over-contracting as well as spasms or cramps, while also enhancing muscle tone and ultimately helping the human body recover much faster from injury.
The Last Word
Physical therapists often recommend treatment with Kinesiology tape if you have injuries that are causing you physical pain, muscle swelling, reduced motion, or muscle spasms. While this may provide some support when used as a stand-alone therapy, Kinesiology taping is generally considered to be much more effective when combined with other more conventional methods of treatment. As the increase in demand for massage therapy continues to grow, massage therapists are now also learning “kinesio-taping,” and when trained, may offer it to their clients as well. Massage therapy is a powerful add on to physical therapy and more and more proving to help “PT” patients make greater gains in physical therapy sessions when they receive a medical massage within 24 hours of their “PT” session, thus sometimes shortening their healing and recovery time.