What is Kinesio Tape (Kinesiology Tape)?
There are many options available for the treatment of sore and injured muscles. Athletes use many different methods; from pills and creams to massage therapy and acupuncture. Traditional treatments often involve restricting movement of injured muscles to allow time to heal. However, we now know that keeping muscles active improves circulation, reduces pain and speeds up healing. In 1979 Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase developed a new method of treatment that he named the Kinesio Taping Method, along with the first therapeutic tape, Kinesio Tape. Kinesio tape is a brand of the type of tape now known as Kinesiology Tape.
Functions of Kinesiology Tape
The four major functions of Dr Kase’s Kinesio Tape along with the application of the Kinesio Taping Method are:
• Supporting the muscle – Correct taping improves the muscle’s ability to contract even when it’s injured or weak, it can reduce pain and fatigue, and protects the muscle from cramp, over extension and over contraction.
• Removing congestion to the flow of body fluids – Kinesiology tape improves circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids to allow a reduction inflammation and excess chemical buildup in the tissues.
• Trigger the endogenous analgesic system – Endogenous means self-originating, i.e. within the body, and analgesic means that it can relieve pain. Therefore the tape must assist the body’s own healing mechanisms, a central focus in chiropractic medicine.
• Correcting joint problems – The purpose is improving range of motion and adjusting misalignments that result from tightened muscles.
What Make’s Kinesio Tape?
Kinesiology Tape is made of very thin 100% high grade cotton that stretches 120–140% of its original length mimicking the flexibility of human skin and muscles. The adhesive is heat-activated (see How to Apply Kinesiology Tape), latex-free and hypo-allergenic, causing less skin sensitivity or irritability than other tapes and the unique wave design keeps it breathable as it microscopically lifts skin and channels away moisture. It is also quite durable and comfortable enough to be left on for 3 to 5 days per application with an average of 8 to 10 applications per roll making it fairly economical too.
Designed to mimic human skin, with roughly the same thickness and elastic properties; the tape is stretched 30-40% more than its resting length and it will “recoil” after being applied and therefore create a pulling force on the skin or muscle that it is being applied to. How the tape affects the limb is dependent on its usage and how it is applied: the location, the direction of pull and the shape all play a role in its function.
There are several benefits claimed for the tape. Correcting the alignment of weak muscles as well as facilitating joint movement as a result of the tape’s recoiling properties is one. Additionally, the tape is claimed to lift the top layer of skin, increasing the space below it, and therefore increasing blood flow and circulation of lymphatic fluids (swelling). This lifting of the interstitial space leads to less pressure on the body’s pain receptors (less pain detected) and to stimulate mechanoreceptors, to improve overall joint proprioception.