What is Kinesiology Tape and How Does it Benefit You?
Kinesiology tape is a fascinating product that offers a number of benefits for athletes, whether you're a weekend warrior or an elite athlete. Kinesiology tape allows you to easily and effectively treat minor injuries and deal with pain from stressed, tired muscles without compromising your workout. When you want to keep training, but pain seems to be getting in your way, kinesiology tape can help you accomplish your goals.
What is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology tape is a type of tape that is applied directly to the skin on the injured or sore body part. Commonly used by athletic trainers and physical therapists to help promote healing, kinesiology tape has recently made a bigger impact on the wider sports world. Kinesiology tape is designed to provide support and increase strength in injured areas without compromising range of motion, which makes it an excellent choice for athletes who need a little additional support, but want to avoid stiffness. It provides support to joints, muscles, and tendons in a way that can help increase range of motion and decrease pain, but without limiting your movement: the perfect solution for many athletes.
What are the Benefits of Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology tape provides a number of healing benefits to patients who use it, including:
Reducing inflammation. Kinesiology tape helps encourage blood flow, reducing inflammation in injured limbs and other areas of the body. Reduced inflammation often means reduced pain, which makes recovery more comfortable for many patients.
Providing support. Kinesiology tape can be placed in a traditional I strip or altered to an X or Y formation to help provide appropriate support to aching joints, tendons, and ligaments. It's perfect for providing a little additional support following an injury or for helping to support a weak area during a major athletic event, like a long race.
Reducing the risk of injury. Because it helps support weaker limbs, kinesiology tape can help reduce the risk of injury or re-injury to a weaker area of the body. Since it is designed to be highly flexible and does not restrict movement in other ways, the body is less likely to become reliant on kinesiology tape than it is to rely on braces, wraps, or other supports.
More comfortable than braces or wraps. Bulky braces and wraps can significantly limit performance. Not only that, they're often ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and hard to deal with when you're trying to exercise, train, or compete. Kinesiology tape is much more comfortable and less likely to limit range of motion, which means you're less likely to inhibit your overall performance.
Kinesiology tape moves when you move. Unlike traditional athletic tape, which is designed to prevent or limit movement, kinesiology tape moves with the athlete, making it easier for you to complete the movements that are part of your everyday training routine.
Letting you keep on training. Many times, the restrictions necessary after even a minor injury can significantly impact your training, making it very difficult for you to get on with it and make the most of your time at the gym, at practice, or on the trail. With kinesiology tape, on the other hand, you're often able to keep training at your usual intensity, with very few modifications for minor injuries.
Reducing pain. Ultimately, kinesiology tape is designed to completely prevent, or at least substantially reduce, the pain you'll face as a result of wear and tear and smaller injuries. When used correctly, it's a highly effective tool that can improve your training even when you're dealing with the after effects of an injury.
How Does It Work?
It seems impossible that a few strips of flexible tape could create such a dramatic difference in your pain levels and your performance. However, kinesiology tape does it--so how does it work? While the jury is still out on exactly how it accomplishes its effects, there are several theories about how kinesiology tape works.
Kinesiology tape inhibits pain pathways. The input on the skin helps prevent pain signals from getting to the brain. This, in turn, improves muscle tone and decreases spasms, enhancing your overall athletic performance.
It helps realign joint tissue. Kinesiology tape can help ease joints back into the correct position and realign your movement so that it is more efficient, more effective, and less likely to cause pain.
Kinsesiology tape may delay muscle fatigue. This makes it easier for athletes at all performance levels to improve their overall performance, including performance following an injury.
Properly Applying Kinesiology Tape
You're sold on the potential benefits of kinesiology tape, but you're not sure how to get started. How should you use your tape to maximum advantage?
Start by identifying the painful or injured part of your body. Consider where you're most likely to feel pain while you're exercising. If you're recovering from a minor injury, that area probably has most of your focus. You may also choose to use kinesiology tape in the areas where you're most likely to experience pain and fatigue while working out: for example, runners may choose to tape their hamstrings before a long run to help decrease stiffness and soreness after the race or to improve comfort levels during the run. Kinesiology tape can be used on the:
- Neck and shoulders
- Arms and hands
Next, make sure that your skin is clean and dry. Properly applied, kinesiology tape can last for several days before it needs to be replaced. You will, however, need to make sure that your skin is clean and dry so that its use doesn't cause other problems.
Apply early. If you're going to be sweating--on a long run or workout, for example--or getting in the water to swim, you should apply kinesiology tape at least one hour before you plan to get wet. This will allow it plenty of time to properly adhere to your skin. If you're applying tape after a workout, consider a shower first.
Cut the tape. If you're using a roll of tape, rather than precut strips designed for specific areas of the body, cut your strips to the proper size. Gently rounding the edges with your scissors can help prevent them from catching on your clothing and pulling loose.
Add stretch to the tape. The tape should stretch over most of the area it's covering to help provide adequate support. You should not, however, stretch the ends of the tape, which will help anchor it in place. Keep these areas free of stretch. It can be helpful to apply the middle of the tape first.
Rub the tape toward the ends. Start at the middle and rub the tape toward its ends. This will help stick the tape down more effectively. Kinesiology tape's adhesive is usually heat activated, which means that the heat from your hands will help activate the adhesive and ensure that it sticks.
• Ready to start using your kinesiology tape? Try these helpful tips to make the most of each application.
• Most kinesiology tape is designed for a single application. If it sticks to something else as you're trying to apply it, you may need to cut a new strip and start again.
• If the ends of your tape are starting to curl, but you aren't ready to remove it yet, consider trimming the ends. In some parts of the body, this may be easier with help.
• Keep kinesiology tape away from damaged skin, including blemishes, scrapes, cuts, and sunburn. Give these areas time to heal before using kinesiology tape.
• Check hair growth in areas where you plan to use kinesiology tape. While short hair won't present much of a problem, longer hair growth may make tape removal more uncomfortable, and thick hair can make it difficult for the tape to stick. Consider trimming hair as needed.
• Remove tape by peeling in the direction of hair growth to help minimize the pain of removal.
• If you're having trouble removing kinesiology tape effectively, consider using vegetable oil, baby oil, or olive oil to help break down the adhesive and make the tape easier to remove.
• Avoid excessive heat while you're wearing kinesiology tape. Don't point a blow dryer directly at the tape, and try to avoid laying out in the hot sun. Because the tape's adhesive is heat-activated, this can make it difficult to remove.
• Don't use lotions or other creams on skin that you expect to cover with kinesiology tape, since this can make it difficult for the tape to stick properly. Instead, wait until you remove the tape or, if needed, apply around it.
Do you want to reduce pain and make it easier to train with minor injuries? Do you simply want to decrease muscle fatigue so that you'll be able to train longer? Then give Mueller Kinesiology Tape a try today,