Kellie K. Middleton, MD

Kinesiology Tape Benefits and Uses

Mar 10, 2023
Kinesiology Tape Benefits and Uses
If you have ever seen athletes or fitness enthusiasts with thick colored tape on parts of their bodies, you’ve probably wondered what that tape is for...

If you have ever seen athletes or fitness enthusiasts with thick colored tape on parts of their bodies, you’ve probably wondered what that tape is for.

Well, it was probably kinesiology tape, an adhesive tool with a range of therapeutic benefits for sports players and other athletic people. Keep reading to learn more about the uses and benefits of kinesiology tape.

What is kinesiology tape?

Kinesiology tape is a form of adhesive tape used by athletes, physical therapists, trainers, and people who undertake above-average levels of physical fitness. They use this tape to provide support and enhance performance, amongst other things.

It was first developed in the 1970s by a chiropractor named Dr. Kenzo Kase under the brand Kinesio Tape. Today there are dozens of companies that sell their own versions of kinesiology tape based on the product and techniques that Kase developed.

The tape itself is a blend of nylon and cotton, resulting in an ultra-stretchy material with a layer of incredibly strong and waterproof adhesive.

How does kinesiology tape work?

How does kinesiology tape work

Image by prostooleh on Freepik

One of the main functions of kinesiology tape is to imitate the elasticity of your skin, hence the stretchiness of the material. This allows the tape to stretch and bend with the full range of motion of whichever body part it is taped to. It is typically applied to injured body parts, providing support to affected muscles while still allowing them to move fully without impeding circulation and slowing down the healing process.

This is because the tape slightly lifts your skin and tissue while it is applied. This leaves a tiny space between the skin and tissue, which is believed to help increase blood and lymphatic fluid flow around that muscle.

In regards to body parts, kinesiology tape for the knees, shoulders, and ankles are the most common areas for application.

Benefits of Kinesiology Tape

There are a number of purported benefits to using kinesiology tape, with the main benefits being:

  • Improves Circulation: As mentioned above, the lifting mechanism of the tape is said to increase blood flow and lymphatic circulation, remove chemical build-up, and reduce inflammation.
  • Providing Support: perhaps one of its most important uses is in supporting sensitive zones of the body, including muscles, joints, and tendons. It is especially useful for people with conditions where joints need to be stabilized, such as shoulder instability, iliotibial band friction syndrome, and patellofemoral stress syndrome.
  • Performance Enhancement: Some studies have shown that the use of kinesiology tape can improve endurance and movement during physical activity, and it is particularly effective as a performance enhancer when applied to fatigued muscle tissue.
  • Injury Treatment: Kinesiology tape is often included in a comprehensive treatment plan for athletic injuries, as it reduces pain and swelling during the recovery process. It is most effective when used alongside physical therapy.
  • Re-training muscles. It can help retrain muscles that have become weak, lost function, or has been over-used in unhealthy ways. It has been used to correct poor posture, treat people with musculoskeletal conditions, and rehabilitate movement in stroke victims.

How To Apply

While kinesiology tape can be applied on your own, it is always recommended to consult a doctor or physical therapist who can show you the proper application. They will show you how to apply the tape in a way that caters to your needs and watch you apply it to ensure you have the technique down.

Kinesiology tape is normally applied in one of 4 ways – in a Y shape, X shape, I shape and fan shape.

Some tips for applying and removing kinesiology tape:

  1. Clean and dry the area before applying to ensure the tape will stick.
  2. Trim or shave excess hair that may affect the tape’s grip.
  3. Cut the length of tape you need and snip rounded corners on the ends to prevent the tape from snagging on your clothing.
  4. When removing the backing, leave a few centimeters on each end as an anchor. While the main body of the tape will stretch, these ends will remain firm.
  5. Apply one anchor end without applying tension.
  6. Stretch the tape as much as recommended by your PT or doctor before applying the length of the tape. Then remove the backing from the second anchor and apply.
  7. Rub the length of the tape for a few seconds – the heat will activate the adhesive.

How Not To Use It

There are some circumstances where kinesiology should not be used. These include:

  • Infected areas or open sores. Using kinesiology tape on these areas will likely exacerbate any wounds or infections.
  • If you have particularly sensitive skin or any allergies to acrylic or adhesives, avoid using the tape.
  • Deep vein thrombosis. Kinesiology tape can increase blood flow, dislodging blood clots and potentially leading to a pulmonary embolism.
  • Cancer or cancerous tumors. This tape can increase blood flow to tumors as well, potentially encouraging their growth.

However, in any case, you should consult your doctor or physical therapist if you are curious about kinesiology tape usage. They will be able to tell you if it’s the right choice for your situation.

If you are recovering from an injury and think you may benefit from using kinesiology tape, whether you’re a full-time athlete or an occasional marathon runner, get in touch with our team at Kellie Middleton MD. We specialize in treating athletic injuries via surgery and therapy, providing pain management, and restoring mobility. We can assess whether kinesiology tape is the right choice for you.

To book your first consultation at our Atlanta office, give us a call at 770-509-4030 or fill out our contact forms here.