A number of sports personalities from Serena Williams to Lance Armstrong have used it – what is known as athletic tape or elastic therapeutic tape or Kinesiology tape. Claimed uses and benefits include providing support for an injured muscle or joint, and proprioception, or a body capability of perceiving its position in space such as the position of the leg in a kick or that of the arm in a throw.
The origins of elastic athletic tape can be traced to Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor. He formally introduced this advanced invention in 1979, intended to lessen pain and enhance soft tissue healing.
Types of Athletic Tapes
Here’s a look at four types of athletic tape:
1. Rigid Tape – This stiff tape restricts joint movement. It generally utilizes a glue containing zinc oxide that enables the tape to mold onto the area where it is placed, similar to a cast (whenever the body temperature rises).
2. Felt Tape – This tape functions as a barricade to your skin. Owing to the fact that it is glue-free, it feels more comfortable.
3. Elastikon Tape – Usually manufactured using cotton elastic cloth, an elastikon tape is a strong supportive tape like rigid tape. Owing to its being made of cotton material, it enables the skin to breathe to a certain extent and transfers moisture through the material. The tape is characterized by considerable elasticity that allows for added flexibility.
4. Under wrap – Worn beneath rigid tape, under wrap safeguards the skin from the painful waxing sensation associated with removing the tape. It is a kinder tape.
What is Kinesiology Tape?
This is the most recent tape to hit the athletic scene and unlike traditional athletic tape, additionally provides therapeutic benefits. It is a very thin tape made purely from superior cotton and thus bereft of any of the harmful ingredients such as zinc oxide or latex present in many athletic tapes. Though kinesiology tape helps to restrict unfavorable movement, it still provides some room for safe movement. Thus it can be worn, without worry for 4 to 5 days whereas the traditional tape should be on only for a day.
When kinesiology tape is applied onto the target area, it pulls soft tissue and skin a distance from the muscle, thereby permitting increased flow of blood and better lymphatic drainage. This, in turn, contributes to pain relief.
Therapeutic Advantages of using Athletic Tape
It is believed that kinesiology tape assists with achieving neural circuitry balance in the tendons, muscles, skin, and joints. The therapeutic benefits of using this kind of tape include:
1. Prevention and management of injuries – Athletic taping helps reduce injuries associated with collision sports. It is also useful in preventing injury in the majority of other sports as well as in decreasing injury severity.
2. Alleviation of Pain – Kinesiology tape is beneficial in alleviating muscle spasm and pain that possibly develops after an injury. It can assist with reducing nociceptive (pain triggered by nerve cell stimulation) input to the brain. This, in turn, would help control protective spasms and muscle guarding thereby contributing to pain relief.
3. Supportive Application – The extra support associated with kinesiology tape means favorable joint support for conditions such as iliotibial band friction syndrome and patellofemoral stress syndrome. The joint will be supported well while also enabling permissible motion.
4. Rehabilitation – Just like a foam rolling and mobility workout, taping provides rehabilitation benefit. For athletes who resort to manual therapy, the application of kinesiology tape after the therapy can help speed up the healing process.
5. Management of swellings – Kinesiology taping can help swelling resulting from surgery or an injury. The tape helps by reducing the pressure between underlying tissues and the skin.
Specific applications for which kinesiology taping helps, include a sprained ankle, neck spasms, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome,
post-knee surgery, foot pain, calf cramps, and lower back pain.
Kinesiology taping is one of several beneficial lower back pain relief products. Whether for overstrained back muscles, sciatica or simple muscle inflammation, kinesiology tape helps by collaborating with the lymphatic and nervous systems to bring down pain and swelling.
How to Use It
Here are some steps to make the process easier:
1. Select the right kinesiology tape. Different tapes have different degrees of elasticity, with the common range being between 130 and 140 percent of the tape’s original length. The objective should not be to stretch to the full length but only slightly.
2. Cut the tape. For beginners, the “I cut” is pretty easy. What’s more, it is suitable for the majority of applications. A more confident and knowledgeable kinesiology taper can try an X, Y or fan shape cut. To ensure that there is proper linking, you only need to hold up the tape over the region you were taping. Pre-cut tapes are available for purchase.
3. Clean and dry your skin before application. You may use drying alcohol or soap and water.
4. Peel off the tape’s backing.
5. Smoothly but tautly place the tape over the affected region. Make sure the tape runs over the area extending from the muscle all the way to the tendons that keep the muscle and bone secured to each other.
6. Following tape application, rub it tautly for a number of seconds to let the adhesive do its work. Then allow an hour for tape setting. Keep the tape on for 3 to 4 days.
Keep In Mind
Refrain from taping on areas of hypersensitive or sunburnt skin, covered with a fresh scar, or affected with any kind of active psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis. You should also avoid taping areas of wrinkled skin such as on your hands and feet.
Jessica is an avid reader who enjoys getting lost in the world of books. She co-authored Supercharge Organic Traffic: A popular course focusing on Organic Traffic for E-commerce. Holding on to her passion for fitness, She Believes that a healthy diet is a key to healthy living.