Kinesiology Tape 101
by: Marcos Hernandez
Have you seen athletes in the gym or on TV performing their sport wrapped with colorful tape in cool patterns? Ever wonder why they were wearing it or what it does exactly?
Ask those who wear it and they will give you one of two answers: pain relief and performance enhancement.
The mechanism by which the tape works isn’t quite agreed upon but there is evidence it helps relieve pain and provide support and stability as part of an overall injury treatment plan. The patterns can get fancy but ultimately the goal is to help facilitate recovery without impeding normal range of motion. Studies have shown mixed results when it comes to proving these claims, however kinesiology tape is widely used by athletes in many sports and many claim to notice a positive change as a result.
Placebo effect anyone? Even the benefits are purely mental, it’s still worth trying IMO.
Here are two unconventional reasons I suggest trying kinesiology tape: as a reminder about your injury and to protect the skin.
Since k-tape is used in conjunction with other therapy modalities, its presence on the skin can provide a reminder about positions and considerations your physical or massage therapist has suggested.
As for skin protection, I personally tape over my collarbone (it sticks up from where I broke it over a decade ago) and I’ve found that it provides a buffer between my skin and the bar. Having lifted both with the tape and without it I can 100% tell you the bruising and swelling when performing barbell front rack exercises are hardly noticeable when I tape up but are a limiting factor when I don’t.
When applying it yourself, make sure to use scissors to round the corners so the taped doesn't get caught on your clothing. Then, anchor one end of the tape in the target area, apply therapeutic tension as directed by your PT / sports medicine professional, and anchor the other end. Make sure you don’t touch the adhesive, and make sure you change the tape every couple of days (if not sooner)!