Elastic therapeutic tape, known as kinesiology tape, is an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive which is used in the treatment of pain and disability from athletic injuries, such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and runner’s knee, as well as a variety of other physical disorders. This tape can stretch up to 140% of its original length, allowing it to recoil after being applied, creating a pulling force on the skin to which it is applied. The elastic quality of kinesiology tape allows a much greater range of motion than traditional white athletic tape, and may be left on for longer periods of time without reapplication.
Kinesiology tape is beneficial in a variety of ways. It can turn down the volume on the pain by interfering with pain signals as they are sent to the brain. When these signals arriving at the brain are altered, the brain does not recognize the need to produce the same painful response. Applied properly, many patients may experience no pain at all. It does all this by affecting the nerve endings, and various type of receptors in the skin of the injured area.
Kinesiology tape also decompresses the area of swelling and inflammation. When applied to the skin, it creates a microscopic lifting effect underneath the skin, and between its many layers. This allows for a greater flow of blood to and from the site of injury, and also provides for the more rapid dispersal of the unwanted by-products created by the inflammation caused by the injury. It does all this by allowing the congested or compressed vessels, such as capillaries, lymph vessels, arteries, and veins, to flow more freely. It can also create more space between layers of tissue, such as fascia, muscle, fat, skin, and other related structures.
The tape can also relieve muscle fatigue, not only in the affected muscle, but in those surrounding ones, which would normally be called upon to pick up the slack, so to speak, for their injured counterpart. The effects of an injured muscle can be spread to other, even unrelated, parts of the body. Strain and duress from an injured muscle can be referred to other muscles, due to the muscle being pressed into service to perform a function it was not designed to perform. Kinesiology tape can help to bring the dormant muscle back to life, easing strain on related tissue, and calming down stress caused by the resultant over activity. It helps your body to behave in a more normal fashion, as if it weren’t hurting, allowing it to heal more quickly. And, unlike typical white athletic tape, whose aim is to immobilize the injured muscle, kinesiology tape is designed to provide full mobility in the affected area. Through its elastic properties and quick recoil, kinesiology tape is designed to distribute the stress of activity to surrounding areas, including ligaments, fascia, and even bones, relieving pressure on the affected area, and allowing for a speedier and less painful recovery, while providing full use of the injured muscle.
In addition, kinesiology tape has the added advantage of being easy to use, by simply applying it to the affected area as you would any tape. It can be worn for up to five days, even in the bath, shower, or while swimming.
Kinesiology tape can be used to great advantage in the treatment of any muscle, joint, or tissue injury, providing effective pain relief, and a quick return to pre-injury mobility.
At Alternative Physical Medicine in Littleton, Colorado our tape of choice is RockTape. It is stretchier, stickier and more effective than any other brand of kinesiology tape. Dr. Spallone is an FMT2 (Fascial Movement Taping) certified RockDoc. He has provided athlete treatment and taping services at many events including the World's Strongest Man competition. He has participated in instructing the Denver Broncos trainers on the application of RockTape.