In 2008, Kinesio Tape appeared on the world’s biggest athletic stage – the Olympics in Beijing, China. Since then, the practice of taping muscles and joints has become more common, appearing on backs, shoulders, knees, and calves in every athletic event from local 5k races to beach volleyball courts in Rio.
What Is Kinesio Tape?
Chiropractor Dr. Kenso Kase developed the elastic therapeutic tape in the 1970s as well as its application techniques. This stretchy tape with adhesive on one side is applied to the skin in a specific fashion in order to improve stability in joints and increase lymphatic drainage in muscles. The concept of taping injured joints is not new but traditional taping methods restricted the movement of the joint. While this prevented further injury, immobilization also impeded circulation and the body’s natural healing process. Because of its elasticity, Kinesio Tape provides stabilization without immobilization. But its benefits extend beyond stabilization.
How does Kinesio Tape Work?
When applied to muscles, Kinesio Tape microscopically lifts the skin away from the body’s fascia, sheets of connective tissue that encapsulate muscle fibers. By creating space between the skin and fascia, pressure and inflammation are reduced and lymphatic fluid, key to healing the body, is free to move in and out of the area.
When Kinesio Tape is applied to joints, the wearer experiences greater range of motion and lesser amounts of pain resulting from proper alignment and support. Most importantly, Kinesio Tape has an ability to stretch longitudinally up to 40%, making it ideal for supporting a joint without limiting its range of motion. This makes it especially popular for those who wish to continue their daily routines without sacrificing mobility for comfort.
Is It Safe and Effective?
Latex free and breathable, one application of Kinesio Tape can be worn for several days in a row, through showering, therapy, and training, without adverse side effects.
A 2015 study published in “NeuroRehabilitation” found that Kinesio Tape, applied to the calves of people with MS, dramatically improved the balance of the wearers. A 2006 study extended Kinesio Tape’s effectiveness in stroke patients when it was found to reduce inflammation and muscular weakness while enhancing postural alignment. While American flag tape is a clever marketing tool used widely during the games in Rio, the color matters less than the well-documented effect on the wearer.