Kinesiology tape, also known as KT, is a commonly used form of integrated medicine to remedy injuries. Its debut at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics quickly brought it to fame, as athletes everywhere sported the brightly-colored tape.
KT Tape is widely used by physical and sports therapists because it has shown to be effective for reducing pain and swelling by applying pressure to muscle tissues without limiting movement. is one of those commonly used forms of integrative medicine that we encounter in our daily lives. We have all seen the athletes walking around with tape all along their legs, shoulders, and chests. It might seem ridiculous, but K-Tape actually makes a difference.
The main thing that sets K-tape apart from other athletic tapes is its stretchy nature, due to its consistency of cotton and nylon. It is so stretchy, in fact, that it can stretch up to 140% of its entire length. The stretchiness was developed to mimic the skin’s elasticity, maximizing its effectiveness in promoting muscle recovery.
K-tape also has an adhesive feature that makes it water-resistant and lasts up to five days. When the kinesiology tape is worn, it recoils and holds the skin taut, keeping the skin, and reportedly, the tissue beneath it, in place.
Kinesiology tape is used for medical and athletic purposes. Athletes use it while performing to prevent injuries and keep their muscles awake. The medical benefits of K-tape are supported by research and physical therapists, who have claimed the tape can be used to re-train the muscles and regain posture. Having the tape on the skin gives a sensation that draws your awareness to how you are moving. Aside from athletic benefits, K-tape has also been proven to correct posture in the head and the neck, as well as to help stroke patients re-learn how to walk and talk. Unlike medical tapes, kinesiology tape allows for greater movement and mobility, making it more effectively provide support to weak or injured joints and muscles. As with all athletic tapes, there are some circumstances in which you should not use K-tape.
Primarily, K-tape should not be used on people with sensitive or fragile skin types, as it could lead to tearing and sensitivity. Additionally, people with allergies to adhesive should avoid using K-tape because of the strong adhesive used to make it sticky. K-tape should also not be used on people with conditions that do not support an increase in blood flow, like cancer, as it sometimes can reduce blood flow. Lastly, kinesio tape should never be used on open wounds as it could cause infections or worsen the wound.
How to apply KT
For safety reasons, it is advisable to consult with a professional before applying the tape. There are various application patterns like the X, Y, I, and fan patterns you can use. Each pattern used depends on the location and the purpose of the application. When applying, the location should be kept clean and dry as moisture or lotion could prevent the adhesive from sticking to the skin.
Brands such as the Hampton Adam are perfect for keeping a fir grip on the skin without leaving glue residue on the applied area. To make sure the tape stays on, the area where you place the tape should be rubbed vigorously to activate the glue.
Best practice for using the tape is to not keep the tape on longer than it is needed. Depending on how you apply it, the tape can be kept for up to five days, depending on your therapist or doctor’s prescription. To remove the tape, oil or lotion should be applied to the surface to loosen its grip.
The tape should then be gently pulled at the edge. You should not forcefully pull the tape as it may irritate your skin or tear it. Gently pull your skin down as you separate the tape from it while gently rubbing it as you go. If you notice a reaction on your skin, report it to your doctor or therapist, as this might be an allergy.
The controversy around this tape is its effectiveness. A lot of people claim that most of the acclaimed benefits are theoretical. However, others believe the tape is very effective, depending on its placement and location. Several studies have been carried out on this product, providing varying contributions. John Brewer, head of sport and exercise sciences in the U.K., claims that the effects of the tape are still not scientifically proven since the muscles below the skin are more involved during exercising compared to those close to the skin.
Brewer points to the fact that many athletes have come to accept the tape as a necessary benefit to their performance as they believe it helps with muscle support. However, John thinks this is more of the athlete’s beliefs rather than the tape’s effect. This is called the placebo effect; the tape only seems to be working because the athletes believe it is.
In contrast to John’s claims, a physiotherapist in Essex, UK, Gavin Daglish, proved the opposite, with the results pointing to the benefits of K-Tape. Daglish observed athletes, kids, and bodybuilders using the kinesio to provide a diversity of results.
In regards to improving blood circulation to the muscles, relieving pain, and taking tension off specific muscles, Gavin Daglish showed the tape was very effective when applied with the support of a professional. The properties of the tape allowed it to mimic the contours in the skin, allowing blood and lymph fluids to flow better under the skin, thereby reducing the swelling around the area.
In a study carried out in 2012 on gastrocnemius muscles testing whether the use of kinesiology tape had any effect on the rate of blood flow to the muscle, it was discovered that after 72 hours, there was no difference in the muscle performance of the 61 active individuals used. This was done using the regular medical tape on some and the KT tape on others.
The researchers claimed that the product was false, dubious, pseudoscientific, and ineffective. On the other hand, another study showed that clinicians prefer to use the Kinesio tape instead of medical tape as it is more effective and patients are more compliant. A separate analysis carried out in 2015 discovered that the tape provided more pain relief to patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
To complement the above analysis, another 2016 research study found that using the tape significantly decreased pain and swelling in the treatment of Pes anserinus, compared to the use of the anti-inflammatory medicine that was normally used. This proof was based on swelling scores which were determined using soft tissue sonography.
Other than research based on the effect of the tape on blood circulation, muscular movement, and athletic performance, other research studies show the varying positive effects of the differing colors of the kinesio tape on the athletes’ performance. Surprisingly, it was discovered that the various colors of the tape had varying effects on the mood of the athlete, which could result in the improved performance of an athlete.
Even though research and studies have tried to disprove the effect of the kinesiology tape, many clinicians, therapists, and athletes still use it. A bulk of these studies have no tangible results to back up their claims, and many confounding factors have been found to dilute the conclusions. When used alongside other medical techniques, the tape has shown great benefits. As much as the health benefits of these tapes have not been scientifically backed up, the psychological benefits cannot be disputed.
This could be the reason why athletes are still seen using it. With the different opinions and conclusions of K-Tape, the only way to effectively utilize the tape is to get a proper diagnosis from a qualified professional. Once the diagnosis is made, it is crucial to choose suitable and effective brands to observe the athletic and medical benefits. Brands like Hampton Adams are the perfect choice to benefit your body and muscles as you pursue your recovery journey.