For anyone who practices sports, whether recreational or in a professional way, sore and injured muscles are not uncommon. Whether it is because you just started going to the gym after a long break or because there was a change in your routine that requires you to use a new set of muscles than the ones you are used to, muscle pain and injury risk are real. And we are pretty sure you’d like to minimize those as much as possible, right?!
To help you with that, we put together this article about Kinesiology tape, which is designed to improve circulation, support muscles and help heal or prevent muscle injury. Kinesiology tape also allows for plenty of movement and encourages the flow of body fluids in a way that helps speed the healing process. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to get started with K tape.
Kinesiology Tape Origins
Athletes, doctors and physical therapists have many ways to treat injured and sore muscles. As scientists learn more about how our muscles work, treatments improve. Additional methods to pain pills, topical creams, acupuncture and massages keep coming up and changing the old ways of taking care of injuries. More traditional methods favor restricting the movement of injured muscles, but today we know that it is more important to improve circulation to reduce the pain and speed the healing. And how do we achieve that? By keeping our muscles moving!
Under this premise Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor, developed a muscle treatment in 1979 called Kinesio Taping Method. The way this works is that the tape gently pulls on the skin, lifting it and the tissue covering the muscle, so that blood and other fluids can reach the muscle more freely.
How is Kinesiology Tape Made
Kinesiology Tape is made out of porous cotton fabric, allowing the skin to breathe. Its elasticity is comparable to those of the muscles and skin, allowing for a full range of motion. The tape can last up to three or four days, even through showering and intense workouts thanks to its water-repellant, medical-grade acrylic adhesive, that supports the muscles and connective tissues.
How Kinesiology Tape Works
Traditional taping methods would have your injured muscle completely taped out. If the issue is on your calf, your whole lower leg would be engulfed in tape, restricting your movements and making you look like a mummy.
With Kinesiology tape, we take the opposite approach, using the tape to open up the muscle, allowing for a full range of motion. K tape is used on an injured or strained are to stabilize, but taking care not to encircle a muscle or tendon in a ring of tape. This way when you move, the tape, skin and connective tissue over the muscle or tendon, move along with it, creating space for lymphatic fluid to flow and cleanse the swollen tissue.
Benefits of Kinesiology Tape
- Muscle Support: proper taping improves the ability of the muscle to contract even when injured, reducing the feeling of pain or fatigue. It also protects the muscle from cramping, over-extension and over-contraction.
- Cleansing: kinesiology tape improves blood circulation, which helps reduce chemical buildup in the tissue.
- Analgesic: the tape facilitates the body-s own healing mechanisms by activating the endogenous analgesic system.
- Correcting Joint Issues: correct taping adjusts misalignments that result from tightened muscles, while improving the range of motion.
Kinesiology Taping Method
Before we start, we need to cut the tape to the correct length and shape. The most common types of strips are I, X, Y and fan-shaped. Each muscle group has a specific way in which it needs to be taped, so remember to consult an expert about it. To measure the length, hold the tape against the area you are taping.
Before applying the kinesiology tape to the skin, clean the skin of any oils or dirt it might have to maximize adhesion. Remove the backing and check the proper placement for the tape. Here are some pointers:
- Injured or Overused Muscles: apply the tape with no tension, starting from the tendons that hold the muscle to the bone and extend towards the origin of the muscle. This helps relieve the pain and tightness of the muscle.
- Chronically Injured or Weakened Muscles: apply the tape with light tension, starting from the origin of the muscle and extend towards the tendons that hold the muscle to the bone. This helps support muscles while providing a full range of motion.
After placing the tape in its final place, rub it for a few seconds to activate the adhesive. The adhesive sets and seals after an hour and can last up to three or four days. Because it is very resistant, you can keep doing your daily activities without having to worry about it peeling off, even when exercising or showering. Take a day or two off after removing the tape before applying more in case further treatment is needed.
Please note that this is not in any way a thorough guide on how to cut and apply the Kinesiology tape. For some group muscles, including those in the back which are hard to reach, you might not even be able to apply it on your own. Always consult your physician beforehand.
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