Remember the strange tape on the US Postal Service cycling team in the 2001 Tour de France? What about the bizarre black tape covering the shoulder of US beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh-Jennings at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing? This tape, which often has some complex and odd patterns, is called Kinesio Tape, developed in the mid-1970’s by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor.
There are other knock-off brands (Spider Tech Tape, Kinesiology Tape), but the original is Kinesio® Tex Tape and is turning up in marathon goodie bags and on athletes from recreational runners to elite Olympians. Unfortunately, it is not applied like a plaster for a wound; you cannot simply stick it on a muscle, tendon, or ligament, and expect it to do anything. There is a technique to applying it in order to achieve the desired outcome.
What are the potential outcomes?Enhance performance Prevent injury Reduce pain Re-educate the neuromuscular system Promote improved circulation and healing
Kinesio Tape is designed to help promote the body’s natural healing process and to facilitate or inhibit muscular contraction. Kinesio Tape has been proven to have a positive physiological effect on skin, lymphatic and circulatory systems, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. It may also be used in conjunction with other therapeutic and rehabilitative treatments. It is breathable and waterproof so can be left on for several days to allow for uninterrupted therapeutic benefits.
The numerous benefits of Kinesio Tape are only achieved by applying it properly. Most Kinesio Tape practitioners have taken a 1-3 day course in the Kinesio Taping Method and Applications. Failure to apply the tape correctly may result in an undesired or ineffective result and possible injury.
Kinesio Tape is not just for athletes trying to make it to the start line or through the “Big Game”. It is for anyone who has developed an overuse injury from overtraining, or doing too much too soon with a new fitness routine. It can help the office worker with carpal tunnel issues and neck strain. Plantar fasciitis and others suffering with foot pain may also benefit. Back pain can also be decreased through various Kinesio Taping applications.
Christine Gibbs, MPT