You may have seen an athlete or a runner wearing brightly colored tape that seems to have been applied in various directions. Likely, what you saw was kinesio tape. Kinesio tape is a specific latex-free and water resistant tape that is carefully applied to the skin after a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms.
Kinesio tape merges acupressure, pain management techniques, and physical therapy, placing kinesio tape over symptomatic areas. This elastic tape places a slight stretch to the affected area, slightly lifting up the tissue increasing blood flow and still allowing for full range of motion and joint mobility.
Kinesio tape is used mostly by athletes, especially those in endurance activities. Runners, swimmers, and cyclists enjoy the low-profile and when applied properly does not limit motion and can stay on extended periods, even through the pool and hours of activity. Others can also benefit from Kinesio Taping, such as someone experiencing low back pain, the office worker limited with sitting, or the grandmother returning to a dance class.
Some of the most common conditions our physical therapists treat using Kinesio Tape are:
- Low back pain
- Muscle strains
- Sports injuries
- Shin splints
Kinesio tape is used to decrease swelling/edema, to inhibit muscles, or to stimulate certain muscles. The cut and placement of the tape will determine its function. For example, taping for edema is applied with light tension in a specific pattern to raise the superficial layer of skin and allow excess lymph to drain into the lymphatic system. In the cases of inhibiting or stimulating muscles, different cuts and tension are used on the tape specific to which particular muscle is being inhibited or facilitated. A muscle may need to be inhibited if it has been in constant spasm whereas a muscle may need to be facilitated if it is weak.
Kinesio tape must be applied a specific way to work effectively. Simply putting a bit of tape on your leg or elbow isn’t going to make much of a difference. Our physical therapists are trained to apply kinesio tape to specific parts of the body to ensure proper blood flow and allowing full range of motion. Determining where the tape should start and end, the tension of the kinesio tape, and how to align the tape, are skills developed by each physical therapist and specific to each patient. Applying the tape without proper training can sometimes have the opposite affect and possibly lead to further injury. However, when a physical therapist applies the tape in a strategic way that it is designed to follow muscle movement as you move through your day, then the tape can effectively improve healing and reduce pain.
If you are interested how kinesio taping can improve your function and get you back on the field quicker, swing by for a consultation or give us a call today.