What is that funny tape that sportsmen use?
Kinesio tape, you may have seen it but not known its name.
It is that brightly coloured tape you often see sportsmen and women wear these days. But you may have been wondering if it is just a gimmick, or if it serves some legitimate purpose.
We look in more detail at the uses and benefits of kinesio tape to give you an insight into why it is so popular.
Kinesio tape – what is it all about?
The word kinesio is short for kinesiology, which is the study of how the body moves and functions. It takes into account the physiological, psychological and biomechanical aspects of movement.
The purpose of the tape is to support the body’s muscles and joints during rehabilitation. It is effective because it does so with the minimum amount of restriction on the body’s natural range of motion.
Although it became more widely seen and heard about after the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, it has actually been around since the 1970s. It was developed by a Japanese/ American chiropractor with the rather cool name of Kenzo Kase.
His goal was to make a product that mimicked human skin. The tape is made from cotton fibers woven with polymer elastic strands. It can stretch up to 140% of its original length.
The beauty of his design is that when it shortens again (recoils), it creates a pulling pressure on the skin that helps protect the muscle or joint. It is more flexible than more traditional types of taping that tend to restrict movement.
If it is used correctly, it has been found to have a variety of different benefits. For example, it has been helpful for correcting postural problems, increasing blood flow and for aiding lymphatic drainage.
With Lymphatic drainage, for example, the tape works by lifting the skin to create a small space between the muscle and dermis layers. That space makes room for improved blood flow and drainage.
As with so many of these therapeutic aids though, it is important that kinesio tape is applied correctly. So make sure you get expert guidance on how best to use it.
It can be used for a whole range of conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, subluxations and herniated disc.
How specifically is the tape applied?
It is applied over the affected area with the muscles in a stretched position. Typically the tape will be applied over the entire length of the muscle from where it starts to where it ends (known as the origin and insertion points). It is applied slightly differently depending on whether the muscle needs to be supported or needs to be relaxed.
There are some important dos and don’ts when applying the tape. The skin needs to be free of oil, sweat or any lotions. The tape should be applied at least an hour before or after physical activity or showering (to make sure it retains its adhesive qualities). And although the tape should be stretched, it should not be over-stretched, as this can cause irritation to the skin.
If in doubt, be sure to contact your local rehabiitation clinic for more advice.