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Kinesio Tape for Sports Injuries: What is it and How Does it Work?

Updated on October 30, 2015

For avid sports fans, it is not at all uncommon to see athletes wearing colorful tapes on various areas of their bodies. At first glance, most people would think they’re wearing a new kind of war gear or war paint as the case may be but those colorful tapes aren’t just there for ornamentation. They might just look like tapes slapped on the body but they are not mere tapes; these things are Kinesio tapes and they serve a very specific purpose.

Athletes may be fit and toned but the constant beating their bodies go through means that their bones, muscles, tendons, and cartilage often break down at a much faster rate. This is especially true for professional athletes. When your career depends on you being able to move and win games, some help is in order and this is where the Kinesio tape comes in.

What is a Kinesio Tape?

At first glance, a Kinesio tape looks nothing more than a colorful tape but once you learn more about it and how it works, you will be astounded at what mere tape can do. So what is it? It is a thin and stretchy strip of elastic cotton that also comes with an elastic adhesive on one side. According to its makers, this type of tape is able to help people who suffer from a wide range of sports injuries as well as some musculoskeletal injuries. Inflammatory conditions can also be remedied with the application of this tape.

What makes this tape so unique is that when it comes to both elasticity and thickness, it is almost identical to human skin. This means that the tape can be worn without sacrificing movement. You can use this tape and you do not have to worry about it impeding your performance as you play your favorite sport. This tape is now used to help treat athletic injuries as well as a range of physical disorders. It has been around for quite some time now but in the first ten years of its release, it was the practitioners in Japan who really made full use of the tape. In fact, by the year 1988, the Japanese Olympic team was using the tape and it was also slowly spreading across the world.

What are the Benefits of Kinesiology or the Kinesio Tape?

When used correctly, the kinesio tape can bring about a whole lot of benefits to the human body. Have a look at some of the benefits as listed below:

  • Speedier recovery for overused muscles – Muscles, when used too hard, get over-fatigued and end up all weak and stiff due to the lactic acid that accumulates in them. When Kinesiology is applied on areas where muscle pain is felt the lactic acid is drained at a faster rate which means faster relief and quicker recovery.

  • Relief or prevention of cramps and spasms – When the tape is applied correctly, it works to enhance the circulation in the muscles and this means that more oxygen and nutrients are distributed on a cellular level. This also enhances the rate at which waste products are removed from the body. Kinesiology can help in the prevention of cramps and spasms in overused muscles.

  • Provided support for injured or weak body parts – Anyone who plays sports can tell you that injuries are part and parcel of playing but they need not be the reasons to stop playing. When the Kinesio tape is applied to the injured or weak areas, it helps provide structural support while still allowing for movement. This is all thanks to its unique elastic properties that allow for full and safe range of motion.

  • Pain relief – Using this tape means that you relieve pain using both physical and neurological mechanisms. The tape has a lifting action and it helps to relieve pressure on the pain receptors that are directly under the skin. People who have tried this swear that they feel an instant drop in the level of pain from acute injuries.

  • Reduced swelling, bruising, and inflammation – When an area of the body is injured, fluid and other materials accumulate in that area but putting on the tape can help. It helps reduce pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels so the fluid and other materials are drained faster. It is not only good for sports injuries but it also works on other inflammatory conditions, including lymphedema.

  • Ability to remain active even while injured – Athletes who are injured normally cannot do much and this means they have the risk of getting out of shape. This is where the tape comes in handy since it works to reduce aches and pains as well as inflammation so that athletes can still move around and not get totally rusty while they are suffering an injury.

As you can see, there are lots of benefits to using this tape and you can clearly see that it is not just any other tape.

Kinesio Tape vs. Traditional Strapping Tape

The Kinesio tape is by no means the first tape to be developed for athletes because for the longest time, they would count in the conventional strapping tape for their injuries and pains. However, the main difference between the Kinesio tape and the traditional one is both in the form and function. Remember that the Kinesio tape has a structure that is very similar to human skin while most conventional strapping tapes are of the non-elastic variety. Conventional strapping tapes are wrapped tightly around the body parts to do the job and provide the area with rigid support. Given the way that it is used, it restricts movement and can only be worn for short periods of time after which they must be removed so that movement and circulation can be restored.

On the contrary, the Kinesio tape that comes with unique elastic properties and not wrapped around a certain body part does not restrict you to move even while you are in the process of healing. It is not meant to be rigid or to restrict blood flow. It might be elastic but it still provides support to muscles and joints and at the same time allows movement and circulation. Another thing that makes the Kinesio tape unique is that it is placed in a strategic way on the affected area so you have even less restriction on your movements. It doesn’t have to be removed after several hours and can be worn for four to five days at a time so that the person wearing it can take advantage of the benefits for a certain period of time. This tape can be worn during periods of intense exercise, swimming, bathing, and showering.

What Conditions are Remedied by the Kinesio Tape?

Now that you already have a pretty good idea of what this tape can do and why it is effective, it is time for you to gain a better appreciation for this tape. Below are some specific conditions where it can be used:

  • Swelling and edema – Edema, chronic joint or muscle inflammation, lymphedema, etc.
  • Soft tissue injuries – Patellar tendinitis, back strain, iliotibial band syndrome, tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, golfer’s elbow, rotator cuff injuries, etc.
  • Overuse injuries – Shin splints, tension headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
  • Muscle pain – Torn muscles, tight muscles, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms and cramps, pulled hamstring, abdominal strain, calf strain, etc.
  • Joint pain – Arthritis, lupus, joint instability, bursitis, etc.

Kinesiology is now being used many sportspeople around the globe because of its benefits for the body and its overall convenience.

Have you ever tried wearing Kinesio tape to treat or prevent sports injuries?

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