Have you ever wondered about that multi-colored tape professional athletes sometimes wear on their skin in varying designs? No, they’re not making a social statement – this tape is actually a sophisticated medical treatment.
What is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology tape isn’t something you’ll find at your local craft store. Rather, it’s a therapeutic tape consisting of cotton and elastic, and it is commonly used for treating pain caused by injuries – most often athletic injuries, though there are therapeutic applications for disabilities, too. It is most commonly used in physical therapy and sports medicine applications.
A Brief History
Kinesiology tape, also known as K-Tape or KT, was developed in 1973 by Japanese doctor Kenzo Kase. He worked for years to create a tape and corresponding technique that would provide therapeutic support for athletes, while allowing them to maintain full range of motion.
Use Cases: Why Choose Kinesiology Tape?
There are five essential variations of tape cuts that serve specific needs:
- The “I” Strip – This is the most basic cut, and it can be used in creating the rest of the cuts. It is used for muscle support, and it is commonly used across the lower back to assist with proper posture.
- The “X” Strip – The “X” is used when you need to cover a large surface area and support more than one joint at a time. For this reason, it is most often used on hamstrings.
- The “Y” Strip – You’ll want this cut if you’re looking to support a sensitive area, such as a knee cap or elbow.
- The Fan – The Fan cut is all about managing swelling. It is most often used on arms and legs to control contusions or swelling caused by lymphedema.
- The Lift Strip – Proponents of this cut refer to it as the Band-Aid because it truly looks like a large version of this first aid kit staple. It treats trigger points and knotty muscles.
How to Prepare
Once you’ve studied the types of cuts and their application, you’ll prepare to apply K-Tape on clean, dry skin.
You can buy pre-cut strips or, for a more personal fit, you can cut your own. Either way, you’ll want to round off the ends to prevent them from loosening or snagging.
How to Apply Kinesiology Tape
Since kinesiology tape contains adhesive, it will stick well once applied. However, it can be removed and placed again if you need to get it just right. Once it’s placed properly, use your hands to vigorously rub the surface area of the tape in order to create friction. This will also create heat, which will further activate the adhesive.
K-Tape offers a host of benefits, but the most common are:
- Pain relief
- Muscle, joint and ligament support
- Control of swelling
- Muscle spasm and trigger point control
- Increased circulation
A Consumer Variation
Although kinesiology tape was created by a doctor and is best applied with training or the assistance of a medical professional, there are variants available for consumer use.
If you’re looking for a simple yet sophisticated solution for pain or sports injury support, kinesiology tape may be just what the doctor ordered.