Kinesio taping involves applying strips of plaster or elastic bands to the skin to relieve discomfort and improve muscle function.
This type of tape affects the muscles, ligaments and joints, the blood and lymphatic circulation and the body’s nervous system.
Kinesio taping is currently used by therapists to change muscle tone , stimulate lymphatic drainage, correct movement and improve posture .
Taping is inexpensive, easy to learn and apply, and can last 3-4 days.
The tape rolls are available in pharmacies, sports shops or online.
The tape bandage can also be used during pregnancy and can be attached to all parts of the body, even very sensitive ones (e.g. groin area ).
Kinesio taping differs from classic, inelastic tape and from the McConnell taping method.
Traditional inelastic tape is used to limit range of motion.
The effect of this method is to create a bridge over the injured areas, allowing athletes to perform certain movements without feeling pain.
The classic inelastic tape is removed after exercise, while kinesio tape can remain on the skin for 2-3 days.
With the McConnell method, the adhesive bandage is applied to certain parts of the body to influence certain movements. McConnell uses a very rigid tape that can be worn for a maximum of 18 hours (it is often worn for short periods because of the patient’s discomfort).
Kinesio taping is a new technique that has been gaining popularity in recent years (especially in the sports world).
Kinesio tape is a tape made of hypoallergenic, latex-free cotton fibers that is stretchable in the longitudinal direction (up to 40% – 60% of its original length).
The fabric is permeable to air and breathable.
The adhesive part is covered with a water-repellent acrylic adhesive that is activated by heat.
Thanks to these properties, the tape can stay on the skin for 3-4 days (even if you sweat and come into contact with water).
The tape is free from medicinal substances. It was developed to be as similar as possible in thickness and weight to human skin.
It is important that the tape has a high level of adhesion because it must also be resistant during training (sweat formation) and in the shower.
The tapes come in different colors, sometimes one color will cause a rash while another color of the same brand will not cause any skin reactions .
Where is Kinesio Taping used?
Kinesiological taping is used to treat many dysfunctions by physiotherapists and occupational therapists, as well as by sports medicine specialists, chiropractors, doctors and osteopaths. The range of applications is very broad: from jaw problems to diseases of the foot. Due to its ease of use, kinesio tape is widely used by both ordinary people and top athletes.
How does the tape work?
Kinesio tape can be used to allow full joint movement; the inelastic band, on the other hand, limits the range of motion. Applying the tape to the skin not only has a local effect, but also acts on the underlying tissues and muscles.
The improved muscle work also promotes blood and lymph circulation, the body’s own defenses are activated and the healing process of nerves, muscles and organs is promoted.
The band uses its elasticity to “lift” the skin from the underlying tissue and create waves. In this way, the epidermis is lifted from the derma (subcutaneous layer), which favors circulation and the absorption of liquids. Since the tape is in contact with the skin, important information is transmitted to the brain (proprioceptive information and sensory stimulation), which the muscles then respond to.
The most important effects of kinesio tape can be summarized in four categories:
- Muscle activity support – improves the muscle’s ability to contract even when weak. Relieves pain and fatigue sensations. Protects muscles from cramps and overstretching.
- Drainage of accumulated body fluids – improves blood and lymphatic circulation, inhibits tissue inflammation .
- Activation of the endogenous, analgesic system – the tape is intended to stimulate the body’s own self-healing processes. This is also an important aspect in osteopathy and chiropractic.
- Correction of Joint Problems – The aim is to improve bone-joint alignment and optimize movement by regulating the activity of weak and tense muscles .
The use of Kinesio-Tape is not suitable for lumboischialgia (inflammation of the sciatic nerve), cruralgia or cervicobrachialgia , because the symptoms are caused by nerves that lie in deep regions of the body and not in the tissues under the skin.
Put on the tape
Before application, the tape must be cut to the correct length and shape.
There are different shapes: a straight line (“I’ line”), a “Y”, an “X”, a fan.
Usually the anatomical area to be treated determines which shape is used.
In general, one can say that the “I” cut exerts a greater stabilizing effect than the fan shape, which in turn has a particularly draining effect.
The correct length of the tape results from the measurement of the body part to be treated.
There are mainly two application forms:
- For tight muscles and for drainage: apply the tape without tension (ie without pulling on the ends), keeping the body area to be taped in a stretched state.
- For muscles that need support and stabilization and for tape techniques: apply the tape without stretching, with the body area to be taped in a shortened state. Or apply the tape slightly tensioned (ie by pulling on both ends) while keeping the body part to be taped in a neutral position.
Applying the tape to the shoulder: Before applying the tape, the skin should be cleaned of impurities, creams and oils, as this could impair the adhesiveness of the tape. The use of ultrasonic gel is very effective for the thorough removal of cream residues.
Gradually remove the back part of the tape, being careful not to let the tape come into contact with itself and stick.
Gently place the tape against the skin to check correct positioning. Once the correct position has been found, the band must be pressed firmly; then rub warm for about 30 seconds to activate the adhesive (this is done by the heat generated by the rubbing).
As for the direction to follow when applying the tape (from root to root or vice versa), opinions vary and are often contradictory, depending on which teaching they are based on. In any case, this does not affect the effectiveness of the kinesio tape.
You can start at the origin of the upper arm bicep and apply the tape along the arm towards the elbow.
Combination hamstring taping: Combined treatment of vastus medialis and vastus lateralis. Effective for quadriceps fatigue, double contracture of the external and internal quadriceps, or muscle stiffness .
Taping for calf contractures and Achilles tendinitis
Effect: relieves tension. Shape: a “Y” stripe. Length: below the heel to the hollow of the knee. Apply the tape without tension; start slightly below the heel, stretch the calf and cover the outer area of the calf muscle bellies.
Taping for sprained ankle, swelling of foot and ankle
Effect: draining of swollen ankle and bruising after sprained ankle . Shape: two fan-shaped stripes. Length: 25cm. Attach the strips to form a double fan that crosses at the ankle. Apply the tape without tension while stretching the ankle.
Taping for femoral biceps contracture
Effect: relieves tension. Shape: a ”Y” stripe. Length: from the exit of the sciatic nerve to the top of the fibula. Apply the strip without stretching while the patient bends the trunk forward with the legs straight.
Cover the abdominal muscles of the thigh biceps with the Y-arms and when applying them, the patient should keep the Y-bar taut to stretch the skin.
Taping for tennis elbow and elbow bursitis
This tape bandage is used for any elbow complaints ( tennis elbow , bursitis, etc.). Effect: draining. Shape: a fan-shaped strip. Length: 20-25cm.
With the elbow bent, apply the strip without tension so that it covers the entire elbow like a fan. The individual fan tails must not lie too sideways, otherwise the tape will not crease.
This taping is used for all pain syndromes that affect the lumbar region of the back ( herniated disc , back pain , lower back pain ). Effect: tension-relieving. Shape: four “I” stripes. Length: 25cm.
The tapes are applied without tension just to the side of the spine while the patient bends forward. Always attach on both sides.
Taping for neck pain
Effect: relieves tension for neck pain . Shape: two “I” stripes. Width: 2.5cm. Length: 20-25cm.
The tape is applied without tension to the side of the spine while the patient bends his head forward. Always attach on both sides.
The advantages of kinesio taping compared to traditional tape are that it allows complete freedom of movement, while promoting the flow of body fluids and accelerating the healing process. In addition, it is sweat and water resistant and can therefore be worn during training, in the pool and in the shower: the application period can last up to 5 days.
Kinesio taping results are quick, obvious and measurable in the first 24 hours after application.
If the tape is removed, a few days should elapse before applying a new treatment to the same area to allow the skin to recover.
The kinesio tape is quick and easy to use and can also be applied by the patient themselves in easily accessible places, even if self-treatment is not recommended; the application should always be done by an expert so that the best possible results can be achieved with the help of this technique.
- Shoulder instability: subluxation
- Inflammation of the shoulder tendon
- Periostitis of the tibia or periostitis