Kinesio tape was first developed in the 1970s in Japan by a chiropractor, Dr Kenzo Kase.
Throughout his practice, he found that there was a lack in the variety of treatment options he could practice to help rehab his clients.
Kinesio tape was developed as a way of helping to prolong the benefits of the clinical treatment Dr Kase provided and to tap into the body’s natural way of healing.
Since its development, Kinesio tape has become a very popular adjunct to treatment for many therapists and has been seen on many Olympic and professional level athletes.
What is Kinesio Taping?
Kinesio tape or kinesiology tape or K-tape is an elastic, adhesive tape that is hypoallergenic and water-resistant. When applied, the tape does not restrict motion and can be worn for several days before removal.
How does K-tape work?
The theory behind k-tape is that it microscopically lifts the skin, which encourages lymphatic drainage and blood flow.
While there are studies that question the effectiveness of K-tape, there have been many cases where clients feel a positive effect after having k-tape applied to an injury.
Some positive effects include: reduction in pain, decrease in swelling, improved circulation, increase in muscle activation (stability) and improved confidence of the affected area.
When might I need K-tape?
K-tape is commonly used when clients present with the following:
minor strain or sprain
It is also used at the end stages of rehab when getting back into sport and for those that could benefit from some neuromuscular stimulation.
When an athlete suffers an injury, an ankle sprain for example, there are stages of rehab that they must go through to properly heal said ankle.
Once the initial inflammation and swelling has reduced, which K-tape can be useful for as well, exercises must be performed to regain any losses in range of motion, strength and proprioception (your body knowing where it is in space without having to look at it).
As you progress from basic strengthening to advanced strengthening and agility, there can be a hesitation of the athlete to perform complex movements such as jumping or quick changes of direction for fear of re-injury.
At this time in rehab, K-tape can be useful, not because it provides extra support (it doesn’t really), but because it provides some stimulation to the receptors in the skin which translates to the muscle, sending a message to the brain implying “hey, there’s something going on over here, pay more attention to me” as well as some confidence to the athlete that they have a “support” on the injury.
Where can K-Tape be applied?
K-tape can be applied almost anywhere on the body. Where some areas of the skin are more sensitive to adhesives, the tape may not be able to be worn for more than 24-48 hours. In more common areas such as the shoulder, knee and ankle, the tape can be worn for 3-4 days. Where the K-tape is applied, you need to ensure that the skin is in good, healthy condition; any cuts or abrasions should be cleaned and covered to prevent infection.
How is K-tape applied?
The way K-tape is applied is dependent on the desired result and the injury. For example, a sports therapist will vary the application of K-tape:
by increasing or decreasing the amount of stretch
by cutting a piece of tape at one end
by crossing multiple strips
by guiding the tape along a certain muscle, bone or joint
Who can use K-tape?
Anyone with an injury or symptoms can use K-tape. When applying K-tape, the sports therapist will ensure that the skin is in good healthy condition, so as to not irritate any current skin conditions, and will apply the tape appropriately for an individual's injury.
When should you not use K-tape? As with all treatment options, there are contra-indications to using K-tape.
Here are examples of when K-tape may not be the best option for you:
allergy to adhesives or have sensitive skin where an adhesive may irritate it
open wounds, fresh abrasions or infections
thin skin – may be thin due to age, medication or an injury
altered sensation – those with diabetes may have altered sensation in their extremities and therefore should avoid applying K-tape in those areas
Deep Vein Thrombosis – blood clot – do not apply K-tape in that area
lymph node removal – in this case the therapist will alter the application of the tape to help encourage the edema to a different area of your body
Please contact us if you have any questions about K-tape!