“Kinesiology” is the study of muscular movement or the biomechanics of human motion.
“Tape” is a strip of flat material (cotton, metal, paper, plastic) with an adhesive backing for the purpose of sticking to something else.
So when we add the words together making “kinesiology tape” it doesn’t make literal sense but it refers to a tape that we stick on the human body, specifically to enhance the movement of muscles.
In many ways, I prefer the term “elastic therapeutic tape” because it a better descriptor for its properties but it should not be confused with “athletic tape” which is the inelastic white cotton bandage used by trainers to all but eliminate movement around a joint. This is the tape typically used on ankle sprains where the goal is to limit movement and compress the swollen tissues.
Many brands have capitalized on the general term, kinesiology tape by using an associated name, Kinesio-Tape™, KT Tape™, K-Tape™ but there are others like RockTape™ and SpiderTech™ that are different. All brands have similar features (albeit there are quality differences) and are intended for a similar use.
Anything that touches our body’s biggest organ, the skin, stimulates skin receptors which signals the brain to have a better sense of movement and position at that location.
Also, by stimulating large skin receptors, kinesiology taping can interfere with pain sensing cells, which decreases pain perception.
This is the same concept as “rubbing a sore spot”…it gives the pain sensing skin cells something else to report.
For a more graphic explanation of this concept go to, “what does kinesiology taping really do?
Recent research indicated that kinesiology tape has a greater effect when a person is injured or fatigued. The researchers evaluated body sway in individuals with and without tape. They found that the tape showed very little change in the rested condition, but when the subjects were fatigued, the tape provided an added stimulatory effect through the skin.
While science is unlikely to discover that kinesiology tape is the answer for all aches and injuries, medical practitioners are discovering the vast possibilities in treating patient complaints.
There are currently no reported dangers associated with kinesiology tape. It is simply an elastic cotton mesh bandage.
Common sense comes into play. It is not recommended over open sores and there is a small percentage of the population that will develop a rash under the tape due to:
Kinesiology tape breathes well and flexes like a second skin, unlike most braces that act more like an abrasive shell. It withstands sweat and/or water and is by most comparisons, inexpensive.
Despite the ostensibly recent, techni-coloured appearance on the world stage, kinesiology tape has been in use for over 35 years. Japanese chiropractor, Kenzo Kase, is credited as it’s developer but it took 50,000 free rolls and gold medal beach volleyball athlete, Kerri Walsh (2008 Olympic Games) before eyebrows were raised.
Most athletes don’t have time and energy to waste on anything that does not improve performace. In many areas of medicine, the use of a treatment by athletes, often pre-dates the scientific explanation of “how it works”. Kinesiology tape seems to be following in those footsteps. The research indicating when and how kinesiology should be used is scant but recent studies are offering better explanations.
Lance Armstrong was one of the first athletes to comment about his chiropractor’s use of kinesiology tape in his book, It’s Not About the Bike” in 2000:
“We swore by Jeff’s pink tape. He would tape the hell out of anything. You had a tweaky knee? He taped it. A guy would start to get tendinitis and he’d say, “Don’t worry. No problem. We’ll tape it.” We all had pink tape on our legs.”
Does Lance strike anyone as the kinda guy who would wear pink tape for fashion?
There are differing schools of thought on how to apply kinesiology tape. Early and persistent reasoning suggested that it should be applied from one end of a muscle, along its whole length to where it ends (origin-insertion taping).
This “anatomical approach” probably makes the most intuitive sense to medical practitioners as it follows anatomical “rules of engagement”.
Dr. Steven Capobianco, chiropractor and developer of the Fascial Movement Taping (FMT) method argues, kinesiology taping should be “based on the obvious yet largely overlooked concept of muscles acting as a chain… the body’s integration of movement via multi-muscle contractions as a means of connecting the brain to the body’s uninterrupted fascial web in order to enhance rehab and athletic performance via cutaneous (skin) stimulation.By taping movement rather than muscles, FMT has demonstrated greater improvement in both patient care and sport performance. “
I live in this “tape movement, not muscles” camp simply because I find it works better for my patients. So my victims…I mean patients, end up with long spirals of tape that connect several muscles in a “movement chain”.
Acute bruising is such a great application for kinesiology tape! And it was one of the first examples that really caught my attention!
How could anyone not notice the stark different in a 48-hour period where the tape lay versus where it did not?
This is the magic (well, not magic, but pretty close) of elastic pull on the outer skin layers creating an area of lower pressure to assist in fluid flow.
Some of the “stickier and stretchier” kinesiology tape brands remain on the skin for up to 5 days. It really should be taken off after 5 days!
Do I need to give the details of the fellow who left in on for 3 weeks? Let’s just say, “air fresheners” are a must-have item in any clinic!