What you Should know About Kinesiology Tape
Kinesiology tape has grown in popularity with athletes of all levels. It’s different than the typical white athletic tape we grew up with. Kinesiology tape is a flexible tape that doesn’t inhibit movement and can actually improve your range of motion…but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
If you’ve watched a sporting event in the past 5 years, you’ve seen it. It’s everywhere! It’s that colorful tape that’s plastered all over the athletes’ bodies. It gained popularity at the summer Olympics during the beach volleyball matches. Athletes that seemed to be wearing more tape than clothing had it on their shoulders, stomachs, knees, ankles and backs. It was all the announcers could talk about. But, what does it do?
There is still a lot of research to be done on this topic. A lot of the taping approaches are based on theories and anecdotal evidence at this point. There has been some preliminary research that has shown some benefits, but how it works is still theoretical. We aren’t necessarily sure how it works. What we do know is that it does work. Sometimes we need to be okay with anecdotal evidence and patiently wait for the research to follow.
What Does It Do?
Again, there are a lot of different theories as to how this stuff works, how to apply it and what the benefits actually are. My explanation is going to be based on the taping technique called RockTape®, since I’m certified in it. I have some experience with Kinesio Taping® technique as well but I tend to gravitate towards RockTape’s approach. This is just my personal preference and in no way discredits other techniques.
Kinesiology tape has been shown to provide pain relief, improve range of motion, increased blood flow, increased lymphatic drainage, proprioceptive and supportive properties. RockTape and Kinesio Tape both have pages dedicated to the research behind kinesiology taping.
How Does It Work (Theoretically)?
The tape works by providing more room between layers of fascia by slightly lifting the skin. Fascia is a connective tissue that covers everything in our body. Its role is to decrease friction between structures and provide support.
By applying the tape with a slight tension it provides a slight lifting response. This decompresses the underlying tissues and allows for better movement between the layers of fascia which could allow for more range of motion. It also allows the vessels and nerves to flow more freely which will improve fluid drainage and theoretically improve healing time due to the increase in blood flow.
Pain relief is also a common result of kinesiology tape application. The theory behind this outcome is that the tape is stimulating the neurons that control the sensory input of pressure and proprioception (the sensing of joint position). These neurological inputs travel to the brain faster than the pain input. It is referred to as the “Gate Control Theory of Pain”. This is the theory used to explain why we feel better when we grab or rub our thumbs after we hit it with a hammer.
When To Use It
It can be used for many different issues. I use it for a lot of running and sports injuries. With injury comes pain, instability and inflammation. The tape helps to offset some of these issues. Since I’m a chiropractor, I use it for postural support as well. It provides the muscles some relief from the stresses of sitting at a desk or standing all day.
You may want to try it if you are dealing with an acute injury, chronic pain, or just want some added support during your long runs. The tape lasts typically 3-5 days through exercise, bathing and swimming. For those of you who have sensitivities, RockTape is latex free and hypoallergenic.
From plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinosis to shoulder instability and postural syndrome, it can help.
*Selected as a "Minnesota Top Chiropractor" for 2015 by Minnesota Monthly
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