What is Kinesio taping therapy?

Physical Therapy, Pain Management

Kinesio Taping is a technique designed to work with the body’s natural healing process while providing rehabilitative support and stability to muscles and joints. It can be used to decrease pain, reduce inflammation, and relax overused or tired muscles.

Female physical therapist tabing the back of a person's leg.What is Kinesio tape?

Kinesio (Ka knee see o) tape is a flexible tape that supports and stabilizes joints, muscles, and ligaments as they bend, contract, and extend. You may have seen athletes at sporting events wearing long strips of brightly colored tape strategically placed on or near their joints.

Unlike, bulky, elastic bandages, Kinesio tape is not used to limit movement or provide stiff support.  

Kinesio tape, also known as kinesiology or elastic therapeutic tape, boasts up to 40 percent elasticity. The tape is typically made of cotton and spandex with a heat-activated acrylic adhesive to keep it in place on the skin.

Kensio taping info graphicPhysical therapists use various methods of Kinesio taping to apply tension to the skin and muscle. Taping can be used as a rehabilitative tool to:

  • Relieve pain
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Relax overused muscles and joints
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Stabilize joints
  • Support the body’s natural healing process

Kinesio tape takes the stress off the joints by creating a rubber-band effect that modifies movement while supporting muscles and tendons.

Kinesio tape has been around for decades.

In the 1970s, a Japanese Chiropractor named Kenzo Kase wanted to develop a supportive and stabilizing tape that acted as human skin. His invention, Kinesio tape, has been used by athletes, trainers, and physical therapists as a preventative and restorative treatment.

How long can you wear Kinesio tape?

Once a physical therapist or sports medicine provider positions the tape, it can remain on the skin as long as the adhesive works, usually two or three days.

The adhesive is strong enough to withstand approved activities, showers, and daily life movements. Of course, if the adhesive causes itching, rash, or other types of discomfort, the tape should be removed.

Is Kinesio tape effective?

As a stand-alone treatment, Kinesio taping may provide some support. However, when combined with other treatment methods Kinesio taping can improve performance and promote healing.

Woman with blue and pink kinesio tape on her back holding an ice pack on her shoulderIs Kinesio tape used just for athletes?

No. Kinesio taping can ease joint pain, provide support for proper form during activity, and be used to relieve and support overuse and soft-tissue injuries. Physical therapists, sports medicine specialists, and athletic trainers often use Kinesio tape to reduce the impact and pain of:

  • Muscle strains
  • Pulled or inflamed tendons (tendonitis)
  • Swelling (edema)

Can Kinesio tape help performance?

Yes, and no.

Some people think it gives them a competitive edge. Others feel comfortable with the added level of support. But using Kinesio tape can also give athletes a false sense of security and allow them to push their bodies past healthy performance limits.

Does Kinesio taping relieve pain?

Possibly. It depends on the source of the pain and a person’s overall health. Some people who suffer from joint and muscle pain say that the taping helped, others say there was no difference.

Black and pink kinesio tape on a man's footSports medicine providers and physical therapists use the taping technique on a case-by-case basis as a treatment option for sports-related injuries. Often it takes a combination of treatments and techniques in the hands of a skillful provider to relieve pain.

When applied correctly along with other treatment methods, Kinesio tape can help relieve the discomfort of:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • General muscle pain
  • Shin splints
  • Knee pain
  • Achilles tendon pain

It’s important to listen to your body. If you feel a sharp pain during activity or lingering aches and stiffness after activity, see your orthopedic specialist. Sudden pain or pain that lasts for more than 24 or 48 hours needs to be seen by a bone and joint specialist.

 

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