Tape It Up: How Kinesiology Tape Works
Where once kinesiology tape just graced the bodies of Olympic athletes, it’s now commonly seen on Sunday morning runners, gym goers and Bob from across the road. With its increase in popularity and wide acceptance, more and more people walk through the doors of physiotherapy practices enquiring about it.
While you already know what kinesiology tape is, it’s important to understand how it works. Correctly applied kinesio tape can provide relief from pain and support for muscles and joints.
Kinesiology tape not only offers physical support but it also utilises the placebo effect, one of the body’s most powerful natural abilities to give pain relief and improve its own healing.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the ways in which kinesiology tape works, how you can use it in your practice and what to look out for in the tape itself.
How Kinesiology Tape Works
When kinesio tape is applied, the elastic properties gently lift the skin, aiming to increase the space for the tissue beneath. Tape can be applied with different levels of tension to achieve a range of effects and works to relieve pressure from pain receptors. Chronic pain can potentially also be lessened using tape by stimulating nerves and disrupting the normal pain signals.
Kinesiology tape is often used to aid reduction in swelling and while its effectiveness requires further study, it’s suggested that the negative pressure created by tape application allows for better lymphatic drainage. By the same means, tape can be used to reduce muscle cramps and DOMS.
The tension with which the tape is applied allows it to be used in different ways too. Tighter tension is thought to contract muscles, helping their strength to improve. Less tension may release muscles, relieving pain and tightness.
The stability of joints is a particular area of focus for kinesiology tape use as studies have shown that it may have beneficial effects on proprioception of joints. This supportive function may help increase stability in joints as well as relieving associated pain and improving local muscle function.
Numerous small clinical studies have been done on the affects of kinesiology tape and so far some have shown greater benefits than placebo. However, as we know, the placebo effect itself can produce dramatically positive effects on recovery and pain reduction.
Common Applications for Kinesiology Tape
There are many common complaints that physiotherapists see every day which could benefit from kinesiology taping. With the increase in casual runners and the proliferation of newer sports such as rock climbing, injuries or muscle tightness from sports is on the rise.
Knee pain can be caused by many different issues and kinesiology taping is suitable as a treatment aid. By taping the knee, the patient may benefit from reduced pain and added support during recovery.
Plantar fasciitis has traditionally been treated with cotton medical taping but using kinesiology tape may be more effective. By pulling the skin gently from the inflamed tissue, the tape aims to reduce swelling while providing the necessary support to the fascia.
Prone to a variety of complaints thanks to its large range of motion, heavy use and sheer complexity, shoulder pain and instability often show up in physio practices.
In conjunction with the appropriate exercises and rehabilitation, kinesiology tape can be used around the shoulder to provide further support whilst retaining the full range of motion.
What Kind of Tape is Best for Physiotherapists?
Due to the nature of kinesiology taping and the range of issues it can be used for, it’s advised that physiotherapists apply the tape as opposed to patients doing it themselves. Especially for hard to reach places like the back and shoulder blades, a physiotherapist is in a better position to tape and adjust the tension appropriately.
You don’t want kinesio tape peeling off a couple of hours after application and your patient attempting to re-tape themselves or be forced to return unnecessarily. Using high-quality, water-resistant tape therefore is crucial.
Tape made using a high percentage of cotton is also essential to maintain skin breathability. A stretch of over 100% the tape’s length is useful for the widest range of applications.
Budget kinesiology tape carries a risk of allergic reaction and skin irritation. Always check that hypo-allergenic adhesive is used to reduce any adverse reactions.
Here at Meridius, we only produce the highest quality kinesiology tape because poor quality tape doesn’t help anyone. Our Adapta Tape is made with 97% cotton and 3% acrylic, producing a 140% stretch allowing for a full range of motion.
At 5cm wide, it can cope with any body part and be cut down to strips easily if less width is required. With hypo-allergenic adhesive, Adapta tape sticks down and stays down. Pain-free during removal, your physio patients get the best quality tape without any discomfort. No ripping off the plaster here!
We sell Adapta tape in rolls of 32m, a great length for continued use in your practice. We have a range of colours too, because something’s got to make inflamed muscles fun.
Add Kinesiology Tape to Your Physio Practice
Whilst kinesiology tape was invented in the 70s, it wasn’t until this colourful stuff was flaunted in the 2012 Olympics that it really started gaining ground. As a result, large studies about its effectiveness are still thin on the ground.
Many athletes and laypeople swear by it though, along with sports therapists, physiotherapists and osteopaths. What’s clear is that kinesio tape does have benefits and is only getting more popular.
By adding this simple string to your physio bow, you’ll be able to embrace a growing treatment form and offer it to your patients.
Get in touch with us if you want to discuss our Adapta tape and follow us on Instagram to see our tape in action!