By Myprotein Writer
Ever since the world witnessed Volleyball star Kerri Walsh sporting kinesiology tape at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the popularity of this elasticated tape has flourished significantly, with athletes (and non-athletes) across many sporting disciplines modelling the brightly coloured tape.
Regardless of its popularity, kinesio tape’s proposed benefits, and how to use it correctly, are still mysterious to many individuals.
What Is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesio tape was developed in 1973 by Dr Kenso Kase, and is prescribed to induce a therapeutic effect.
According to Gibbons (2014), the therapeutic effect occurs as the tape causes a convolution of the epidermis (superficial layer of the skin); improving the circulation of the blood and lymph.
Kase, Tatsuyuki and Tomoki (1996) stated that the therapeutic effect of kinesio tape strengthens weakened muscles and relieves abnormal muscle tension.
Cutaneous mechanoreceptors (sensory receptors located in the skin) are stimulated through the application of kinesio tape according to Murray and Husk (2001), which is believed to enhance proprioception, and thus reduce the risk of injury by providing cues to joint positional awareness.
Kase, Tatsuyuki and Tomoki (1996) suggest that pain may also decrease through neurological suppression.
In short, it is believed that this thin, light and stretchy fabric can:
✓ Improve athletic performance
✓ Amplify proprioception
✓ Provide pain relief
✓ Speed up the healing process.
Kinesio tape has a water resistant protectorate which allows a single application to be worn for three to five days. It is also suitable for people with sensitive skin due to its hypoallergenic properties, and is designed to mimic the qualities of the epidermis for ease of movement.
Benefits of Kinesio Tape
The colour of kinesio tape does not give it different properties; however Kase, Wallis and Kase (2013) express that the fundamental component of this tape is its ability to stretch 40-60% of the resting length.
It is this elastic quality that allows therapists to employ the tension to the skin for the desired effect. Rather than just simply sticking it to the skin, the method of application demands specific ranges of tension depending on the purpose.
How To Use Kinesio Tape
To provide the desired stimulus, the appropriate range of tension should be accompanied by the correct application in regards to the direction that the tape is applied.
In order to relax the overused or shortened muscle, an inhibition technique is applied to provide a soothing stimulus. This technique requires kinesio tape to be applied from the muscle insertion to the origin, utilising a light 15-25% of the tapes available tension.
To stimulate chronically weak or lengthened muscles, the tape is applied from the muscle origin to the insertion, with a 15-35% tension, so as to provide an energetic stimulus for muscle facilitation.
These two techniques are the most widely self-administered applications among recreational athletes; however they are techniques that are often applied incorrectly and with excessive tension.
Too much tension and the effects are diminished; subsequently causing a non-therapeutic effect and irritation to the skin. Following the guidelines set out in this article will ensure an effective kinesio tape application!
Why Use Kinesio Tape?
Kinesio tape is also utilised for various corrective reasons.
Such techniques include applications for lymphatic drainage as well as for space, ligament/tendon, mechanical, fascia and function correction; however these are more complex techniques and require the advice and guidance of a trained therapist.
✓ Round the corners after cutting the desired length of tape to prevent the edges pealing.
✓ Split the paper backing, rather than trying to peal the paper from the tape.
✓ Avoid touching the adhesive side of the tape after removing the paper backing.
✓ Heat activate the adhesive property of the tape by rubbing it after it has been applied to the skin.
✓ Apply an anchor and an end, with no tension on the tape, with the targeted muscle in a relaxed position.
✓ The main application should be applied parallel to the muscle fibres, with the targeted muscle in a stretched position.
✓ Apply the tape at least twenty minutes prior to undertaking activity, this will ensure the therapeutic effects are underway upon starting exercise.
✓ Be careful when removing kinesio tape. To minimise irritation remove the tape slowly, from the proximal anchor/end in the direction of hair growth– for those with sensitive skin try applying baby oil to the tape prior to removing the tape.