What is Kinesio-taping?
Kinesio-taping (K-tape) involves the application of thin, elastic, therapeutic tape with the focus of reducing pain, swelling and inflammation and providing some support to joints and muscles, without restricting movement. The tape was developed in the 1970s by a Japanese chiropractor called Kenzo Kase, and has since been popularised in modern day sports, as it was used frequently in the last two Olympic Games. It can however be used to treat non-sporting injuries as well.
How does it work?
The tape works by microscopically lifting the skin and fascia of where it’s applied. This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas, decompressing pain receptors, blood vessels and facilitates the lymphatic drainage. This creates more space for an increase in blood flow and promote healing of soft tissue structures.
This increase in blood flow to a particular area has also shown to be effective in reducing bruising on the skin where trauma/injury might have occurred to that area.
Who can wear k-tape?
K-tape can be worn by adults, athletes, pregnant women, infants and children and even horses! It must be applied to clean, dry skin for it to be effective and to remain on the skin. An adhesive spray may be used on the skin prior to tape application to improve its adherence. Your therapist may then rub the tape once applied as the glue in the tape is heat activated. Instances where k-tape should not be applied are over open wounds, over sites of skin irritation/infection, over sites of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in people with uncontrolled diabetes or those receiving treatment for cancer.
Useful applications for injuries:
- Knee pain
- Achilles tendonitis/tendinopathy
- Lower back pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Oedema/swelling in joints/muscles
- Offloading/inhibiting overused or overstretched muscles
- Facilitating weak muscles
How long should I leave the tape on for?
K-tape has been shown to be most effective for up to 3 days and but can be left on for up to 4-5 days. The tape is water resistant so can be left on during a shower, bath or swim. You should remove the tape if it starts to feel itchy or uncomfortable as it could mean your skin is reacting to the glue in the tape, of which the effects are temporary.
- Many believe different coloured/patterned k-tape provide different benefits, for example, red tape provides warmth, however numerous studies have found that the colour/pattern of the tape does not influence its properties and is purely for aesthetics.
- Taping will not “hold you together”. Whilst it can provide some support to your joints and muscles, you should not be relying on the tape to hold you together as you can develop a dependency on the tape and your body may adapt accordingly. As a result, when there is no tape applied you could increase your risk of injury.
- Taping does not get rid of pain completely. Whilst it can help to reduce pain to get you playing/doing your sport or activity more comfortably, it will not completely get rid of pain, which is why its application should be used in conjunction with, or to complement other treatment methods. It should also not be seen as a replacement for proper rehabilitation.
Here at Pea Green Physio, we use RockTape® which our therapists may use in conjunction with other treatment modalities, after a thorough assessment has been carried out, whether it be with our physiotherapists, osteopath or sports massage therapist. Give us a call to book in your session!
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Blog by Kieran Yon – Sports Massage & Sports & Rehab Therapist
Pea Green Physio