You may have watched some sporting events and noticed the peculiar, colorful tape in a variety of patterns on athletes. Olympians have also increasingly started to wear the tape, known as Kinesio tape. Although it may seem like the latest trend among athletes, Kinesio tape has been around for decades. In this guide, you'll learn the fundamentals of Kinesio tape, how it works, and if it's a good option for your fitness routine.
What is Kinesio tape?
Kinesio tape is used as a form of therapy for athletes. For example, it's sometimes used in physical therapy to help alleviate pain to affected areas and stabilize muscles. Some athletes wear it before their sporting event as a type of preventative care as well. The tape is made from 100% latex-free elastic and cotton fibers. Kinesio tape acts like a second skin when applied to the body.
What does it do?
Kinesio tape is supposed to support your joints and muscles during and after your workout. It doesn't affect circulation and moves with your body so that you maintain total flexibility. When applied, Kinesio tape can help ease back pain, decrease overall soreness, and speed the healing process among other things.
How does it work?
To gain a better understanding of the effects of Kinesio tape, it's important to understand how the lymph system works. Lymph is a clear liquid that travels throughout the body. Although your heart pumps blood throughout your body, lymph is not aided by a pump. Instead, it is up to you to stimulate lymph flow through your daily activities. A stimulated lymph system helps get rid of toxic waste in your body. A lack of stimulation or a blocked path can result in swelling. In some cases, pain receptors are activated when there is pressure from blocked lymph flow and as a result, pain is felt throughout the affected area.
Whether you experience an injury or intense workout, the stress causes your skin and muscle to compact, blocking any space between the two. When the space is compacted, lymph is unable to adequately flow which creates swelling. Likewise, the tight compaction causes pressure on your pain receptors which sends signals to your brain that cause you to actually feel pain.
Here's where Kinesio tape comes in handy. When applied correctly to a muscle, Kinesio tape subtly lifts the skin creating a small space between your skin and muscle. With a secure space, lymph is able to flow and there is less pressure on your pain receptors. With these results, athletes have felt compelled to sport Kinesio tape when they exercise in order to prevent future discomfort after exercising.
Should I wear Kinesio tape?
Although Kinesio tape has been around for decades, there is no overwhelming scientific evidence proving its merits. However, that doesn't mean Kinesio tape is ineffective. It simply means that scientific evidence is inconclusive for now. Many athletes swear by the effectiveness of Kinesio tape and experience less bruising, soreness, and pain after a particularly intense workout or sporting event.
In addition, some experts have alluded to a placebo effect. While Kinesio tape can very well work effectively, athletes may be subconsciously affected by hearing the positive attributes of Kinesio tape. Thus, results are not truly reliable. Whether there's clear evidence or not, athletes will continue to sport the colorful Kinesio tape.
*It must be noted that correctly applying Kinesio tape is left best to professionals. Although some Kinesio tape products come with instructional videos, only a trained professional in Kinesio taping can guarantee a correct taping.