17/08/2018 · 5 min read
How Kinesiology Tape Can Level Up Your Rock Climbing
Climbing has absolutely exploded on the fitness scene in recent years with climbing walls going from being niche locations to pretty crowded every night of the week. Climbing has a steep learning curve (no pun intended) but when you feel your grades plateau and old injuries niggle, it might be time to explore the world of kinesio tape.
What is Kinesiology Tape?
Simply put, kinesiology tape is a cotton and elastic tape that’s sticky on one side and quite soft on the other.
You really get what you pay for here too, as cheap tape uses low-quality cotton and very tacky glue. You don’t want to save on costs only to have irritation from harsh glues and chemicals.
The tape is used in varying lengths on different muscles and joints to achieve a range of results. These go from pain reduction and muscle recovery to supporting movement range and stabilising injured areas.
Kinesiology tape is increasingly being used by physiotherapists in the prevention of sports injuries.
What does Kinesio Tape even do?
If you’ve been climbing for a while, particularly outdoors, you’ll probably have a pretty filthy roll of climbing tape somewhere in your kit bag right?
Real rock has a tendency to rip your hands up and without taping up certain parts, you’ll be leaving bloody smears about the place.
So climbers already love tape. But we’re not talking about traditional zinc oxide tape, we’re talking kinesiology tape.
Kinesiology tape has been gracing the bodies of professional athletes and Olympians for some years now.
While taping was traditionally used for supporting already damaged muscles and bones, kinesiology tape has now moved into the realms of not just aiding recovery but also helping to prevent it happening in the first place.
Kinesiology tape can be applied in a number of ways, one of which is to help improve posture. When placed across the back from shoulder to shoulder with slight tension, you’ll soon know if you’re reverting into that slightly slumped position.
The tape remains comfortable when sitting or standing in correct posture and becomes tight when your shoulders begin to droop.
How can kinesiology tape improve your rock climbing?
The beauty of kinesiology tape and its popularity lies in its simplicity. Plenty of athletes swear by it and because it doesn’t contain any medication, it’s safe to use for everyone.
1. Reducing pain – one of the main uses for kinesiology tape is to reduce pain in injured tissue. While comprehensive studies are thin on the ground, there’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence of its pain-relieving properties.
One of the main theories as to why kinesiology tape might relieve pain is that it serves to decompress the area under which it’s applied.
By placing the tape over a sore muscle, the tape can lift the skin slightly, relieving pressure on the tissue and nerves underneath. This then allows better circulation to the area, potentially speeding up the rate of healing.
Another reason for kinesiology tape’s ability to reduce pain is that it creates a new sensation in the area. Essentially, you can feel the tape and this can reduce the amount of pain that you feel. It’s a simple trick but it’s incredibly effective.
2. Stabilising muscles and joints – You know how it goes, you’ve had a dodgy knee for a while and you’re halfway up a 6a. You can see the foothold you need to go for but…oof…will your knee make that movement?
It should, but it’s been a little stiff today.
Taping up joints and sore muscles can provide extra stabilisation and help give you greater trust in your body when going for holds that you know you should be able to reach.
While climbing on injuries isn’t recommended, we all get twinges here and there that don’t require rest. In fact, a lot of muscle and joint soreness actually worsens with rest and physiotherapists recommend exercise to see improvement in those cases.
Climbing involves all manner of movements and when the only way to crush that new route is to contort yourself to keep your balance, you need to know that your muscles and joints are going to behave themselves. You can’t be worrying about shoulder rotation when you’re hanging off the crimpiest hold in Crimpville.
Sports tape tricks for climbers
Finger Pulley Protection – You know you’re a climber when you’re cutting off zinc tape that’s filthy and congealed around your fingers at the end of a session. It’s cheap but it’s gnarly. Using kinesiology tape like Adapta Tape is far better for protecting the pulleys and tendons in your fingers and preventing injuries from crimping too much or slipping.
Pulley and tendon finger injuries are becoming much more common in the climbing world as more and more people get into the sport and we all start climbing harder. But if you tear or otherwise damage a finger, that’s your climbing fun gone for weeks, possibly longer. Criss-cross taping your fingers using Adapta tape helps to support the inner workings of your fingers and because it’s stretchy and comfortable, it won’t bunch up, roll its edges or turn into a sticky mess after.
For a detailed explanation of pulley and tendon injuries, check out The Climbing Doctor blog post on the subject.
Shoulder support – Shoulders and knees are often the bane of athletes’ lives, including rock climbers. These tricky systems can get in the way of training whether you’ve slept funny or you pulled up on a hold with your shoulder not quite in the right position.
There are a few excellent methods for shoulder taping that can work wonders for climbers. From supporting the natural movement of your shoulder to correcting posture and keeping everything in line, when you see climbers using kinesio tape, it’ll most likely be in the shoulder area. One of the most common injuries that taping can help prevent is rotator cuff injuries. If you want to learn how to use Adapta tape to prevent rotator cuff injuries, then check out the video below.
Skin Protection – We’ve all taped up our fingers with zinc oxide tape to keep that sharp granite from tearing apart our skin, but the problem with classic climbing tape is that it’s very restrictive. With no elasticity, zinc oxide tape inhibits your muscles and tendons from engaging in their full range of movement. Worse still, if you tape up too tightly or tape a joint that needs to bend, suddenly your on-sight potential is going to come to a grinding halt.
With Adapta tape and other kinesio tapes, you can still use your full range of motion no matter where you place it. This allows you to tape up fingers, shins and other places that are particularly susceptible to the ol’ granite rash.
Knowing when to rest
Using kinesio tape to support tendons and muscles for the prevention of injury is a great idea. It can offer that little bit of extra support when you need it and help you keep your technique on point and not lazy. But if you’ve already damaged a tendon, it’s probably time to rest.
Torn tendons can take a frighteningly long time to heal and climbing on them is a bad idea. You can use kinesiology tape around the damaged tendon as one of the aims of the tape is to improve lymphatic flow and reduce healing time.
But don’t think that because you’ve taped up a torn tendon you can head to the wall! Tendon injuries can be severe so get some rest and go have a friendly chat with your doctor.
What makes Meridius kinesiology tape so special?
Kinesiology tape is usually much less tacky than the traditional finger tape you might be used to climbing with. Some brands, like our Adapta tape here at Meridius, can stick for days at a time and yet still be peeled off gently without pain or leaving a residue.
Made using hypoallergenic materials, our tape doesn’t cause skin irritation and remains breathable and water resistant for up to four days.
Traditional finger tape is almost always zinc oxide tape. This type of tape offers no elasticity or give and can easily lead to reduced blood flow when taped too tightly.
Because it has no give, if you tape up your finger and then crimp, you could be cutting off the blood supply in that position while it felt fine just moments before.
Meridius Adapta tape is 5cm wide but can be cut down to any size with ease. You can use it to support your fingers as well protect them from grazes all while keeping the blood flow optimum.
Apart from fingers, our Adapta tape is ideal for taping up knees, shoulders and backs to help minimise the risk of injuries and soothe tired muscles.
Click here to buy Meridius Adapta Tape and level up your rock climbing. We produce our tape in a range of funky colours because life’s too short for dullness.