Have you ever taken a seat to watch the Olympics or a match of your favourite sport and found yourself wondering why the athletes have strips of colourful tape all over them? You might be wondering how tape of all things can help – and what it actually does.
The tape that athletes and many physiotherapist clients wear is called Kinesiology tape. This is a special kind of tape created by blending cotton and nylon together to create an extremely stretchy tape.
There are many brands and options of tape to choose from, but to understand how the tape really works and why it was created, we need to hop into a time machine and travel back to the mid 1970s. There we will visit a Japanese chiropractor by the name of Dr. Kenzo Kase.
Dr. Kenzo Kase wanted an alternative to the stiff athletic tapes that were used to tape up injured or tight muscles and support joints – a tape that could stretch and move to incorporate normal movement, just like our skin. That’s why he created a tape that is much more stretchy, and is used to provide compression and support natural healing. It is usually made of cotton or a cotton blend, and it tends to be water-proof (and also sweat proof!) so that it can be worn for long periods of time.
Since then, a range of brands creating similar tapes have sprung up, creating many options for people looking to make use of this stretchy method of taping.
To recap for anyone who is still feeling a little confused about the differences:
- Traditional athletic tape aims to reduce circulation and movement, and provide a heavy support.
- Kinesiology tape is designed to allow a greater degree of circulation and to support natural movement while applying a light, supportive pressure to the affected area.
How does it work to support injured areas?
Kinesiology tape ideally plays a supporting role to the body’s natural healing processes. Ongoing research is being done on the ways Kinesiology tape supports injuries and the healing process.
The general idea is that it stabilises an injury and helps prevent further damage from occurring. But because it is stretchy, it provides a lighter pressure on the skin than traditional tape, allowing the connective tissue to move naturally so the lymphatic and circulatory systems can reduce inflammation and repair the tissue.
In general, it is recommended that Kinesiology tape supports other medical interventions such as an exercise therapy program prescribed by a physiotherapist.
Common Concerns Kinesiology Tape is Used to Treat
The uses of Kinesiology tape are very wide reaching, although most sources state that further research is required to develop a robust understanding of when and where it should be used and how effective it is. It has been described as being used for:
- Sports Injury prevention (This is probably why you’ve seen this colourful tape on all of your favourite athletes)
- Chronic back pain
- Lymphedema – this occurs when fluid build up in soft tissues of the body
- Myofascial pain management
- Spinal cord injuries
- Studies have also shown that kinesiology tape may be able to reduce musculoskeletal pain in certain circumstances, although it appears that the effects differ between individuals.
Now you know more about this colourful tape you’ve been seeing everywhere!
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help
At The Brisbane Spine Clinic we can provide advice on the correct use, application and management of kinesiology tape. When you book an appointment, we will provide a thorough examination and work with you to develop a management plan that has the best chances of success.
Book an appointment with us today.
All information is general in nature