Have you ever been to a running race? Or maybe other sports competitions where athletes give all they have to perform their best and win the first place? If you have, you’ve most likely seen some of the participants wearing a weird strip of colored tape on key body zones such as ankles, knees, or shoulders.
What you’ve seen is called a kinesiology tape. We’re here to offer and explanation on what kinesiology tape is, how it is used, and answer the question can it really relieve pain.
What is a kinesiology tape?
Kinesiology tape is both therapeutic and performance-boosting. It is literally a tape offering elasticity and a nice stretch for athletes or people who are active or want to relieve pain. Although the tape directly works with the muscles, therefore, offers a sensory input on a specific place, it allows for complete movement and is in no way restricting.
Unlike standard tape, most kinesiology tapes are created using cotton, spandex, and elastic fibres, giving it the ability to breathe, be flexible and almost copy the skin’s texture. The main objective of this product is to support the joints. Naturally, by doing this the tape is bound to limit the possible motion. However, kinesiology tape avoids this problem and is able to stretch up to 40% of its length and at the same time keep its elasticity.
Where does kinesiology tape come from?
The history of kinesiology tape derives from the 1970s when Dr Kenzo Kase decided to create an alternative to the standard tape used until then. Dr Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor, observed the problems caused by the rigidness and lack of flexibility of the tapes used during the time and wanted to offer something that feels better on the skin and allows for greater motion. Kenzo’s idea was to develop something that copies the elasticity of human skin.
It wasn’t until 2008 during the Summer Olympics that the new solution gained popularity and with good reason. Kerri Walsh, the volleyball player who wore a kinesiology tape during the Olympics and went home with a gold medal, started a new trend in the sports world.
How does kinesiology tape work?
Kinesiology tape works wonders when it comes to eliminating inflammation and swelling.
Let’s see what happens if the body suffers injury. Inflammation and swelling are two of the most common reactions of injury or trauma as a result of blood and different fluids building up. All that has been gathered is difficult to be removed or distributed by the lymphatic system, causing compression and prevention of the transport and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues in attempts to heal them. As a result, recovery is extremely slow and sometimes even impossible.
The way kinesiology tape helps is by lifting the skin, separating it from the underneath tissue. This happens only if the tape is put on correctly and is of high-quality or elastic. By lifting the skin from the tissue the tape produces a free space where blood and lymph can safely flow. This, on the other hand, leads to a decrease in pressure and swelling, making your body feel a whole lot better. The next step is for oxygen and nutrients to once again be able to travel to the tissues, where they can support the healing process.
The benefits of kinesiology tape
There are a number of benefits of using kinesiology tape and you don’t have to have suffered from an injury to take advantage of them. In short, kinesiology tape has the ability to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Eliminate swelling
- Creates space in joints
- Can change the way you perceive pain
- Boosts blood and fluid circulation
We already described the way kinesio tape affects inflammation and swelling. What about the rest of the points on the list of benefits?
Spaces in joints
When there is no space between the joints and the skin, there is a chance of irritation arising. This may not happen today or tomorrow but there is a risk of consequences in the future, especially if you are an athlete or physically active.
Research reveals that wearing kinesiology tape leads to a slight opening of the space around the joints, leading to a movement that is free and a natural and balanced flow of important elements such as oxygen and nutrients.
Did you know that kinesiology tape can actually alter the signals sent by the sensory nervous system and can completely change the way you perceive pain? How cool is that!
Pain, temperature, and touch are all felt by the human body thanks to sensory receptors, which send specific signals to the brain. The receptors are your brain’s way of knowing what your body is feeling and how it is reacting both internally and to the outside world. By using kinesiology tape, you are decompressing tissues, meaning that a change in the signals reaching the brain is inevitable.
By reading the signals differently, the brain reacts in a different way. This explains why therapists take advantage of the power of the kinesiology tape to relieve tense muscles. By decompressing the affected zone, the brain receives brand new signals from the pain receptors, lowering the tension absorbed in the trigger points.
Blood and fluid circulation
When should you use kinesiology tape?
Now that we’ve shared with you the benefits of kinesiology tape you may be wondering when you might want to use it.
There are a number of occasions when kinesiology tape can help you:
- To treat an injury
- To correct posture and train muscles
- To support weak areas
- To boost your performance
- To treat scars
To treat an injury
Especially when used paired with other medications, kinesiology tape can be especially effective when handling injuries. Regardless of whether you are dealing with injuries from sports or other activities, whether they are brand new or have had a long-term effect on your physical activity and body condition, injuries can be cured with the help of this brilliant creation.
To correct posture and train muscles
Often, muscles that we forget to use or don’t use regularly in the gym or during our workouts can become lazy and not function as properly as the rest. This could also happen if you spend the majority of your day sitting at your desk or prefer to spend time on the couch after work instead of outdoors or at the gym.
In such cases, there is a high risk of developing a poor posture and suffer from problems with the neck and head. Using kinesiology tape can help you re-educate your muscles, correct your posture, and strengthen the muscles that you fail to use on a daily basis. It can help you walk properly and can make you more aware of your body in general.
To support weak areas
Part of the effect of the kinesiology tape is to provide additional support to the joints and muscles that need it most. And as we’ve already mentioned earlier, the best part is that it does not limit your movements and allows you to perform at your best, if not even better!
Kinesiology tape is ideal for extra support in cases where the individual suffers from IT band friction syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, or patellofemoral stress syndrome.
To boost your performance
Remember those professional athletes that you’ve seen wearing kinesiology tape? Well, apart from treating injuries and offering support, the tape can actually help you perform better and boost your activity even further. Kinesiology tape can help you perform at your best and overachieve your results. It can save you from injuries and ensures you have another layer of protection when participating in important athletic events. This is why you can see a lot of runners wearing kinesiology tape during races on different parts of the body.
To treat scars
Although treating scars with kinesiology tape is not an official thing that you hear people talk about, it is an effect noticed by a number of individuals with experience in using it. It has the power to affect the way long-term scars look. For some people, having scars is not something that deserves attention as it is a normal part of life. However, others who strive for perfection may prefer to take measures to eliminate any skin imperfections, scars included. The use of kinesiology tape can sometimes help although it is advisable to speak to a professional before using it for this particular purpose.
You’re ready to try the kinesiology tape!
Are you ready to start feeling the positive effects of kinesiology tape? You are now well-informed about what it is, how it works, and why you may want to try it yourself to feel the relief. Choose a color that matches your preferences and personality and bring a new level of comfort and stability to your active days!