What is Kinesiotape?
By Johanna Lelke, DC, ART
Have you heard of Kinesio® taping?
There’s a good chance that you have seen it on pro athletes, maybe unaware that it’s any different than traditional white sports tape except for its fancy blue, black, pink, or flesh colors. Kinesio® tape has been used in the sports realm for over a decade, but wider use came during the Bejjing Olympics when my own teacher and mentor, Dr. Ted Forcum of Portland, applied some tape to Kerri Walsh’s shoulder to keep her playing strongly in spite of her injury. Chiropractors are one of several professionals who use “k-tape”, as it is otherwise known, on their patients and report huge therapeutic and performance benefits. Back strains in gymnasts, knee sprains, neck and upper back tension in cyclists, plantar fasciitis, leg strains in runners, and tennis elbow in climbers are just a few conditions in which I’ve found k-tape to work extremely well.
What exactly does Kinesio® tape do?
Many things. Depending on how it is applied, k-tape holds tension over a muscle that is partially torn, promotes lymphatic drainage in area that is swollen, supports the movement of irritated tendons, and prevents excessive movement at an injured joint. These functions, and others, are accomplished while still allowing near full range of motion. This is a key distinction from white sports tape which limits range of motion. More recently, certain applications of k-tape have been used to increase the kinetic potential in sports-specific muscle groups like quads for cyclists, rotator cuff for overhead throwing athletes and hamstrings for runners. The options are endless when considering how to fine-tune muscle movement for performance enhancement.
Scientifically, only a few research papers on k-taping have been published. Clinically, increasing numbers of PTs, OTs, ATCs, DCs, MDs, LaCs, MTs and RNs have been using k-tape methods with success. Sufficiently high-caliber randomized, controlled research trials are expensive to conduct and therefore have not been funded and executed to date.
How can you get some?
At Innersport, we use k-tape on a regular basis for certain conditions. You will see how we apply it for your specific condition, then we can re-apply it during your office visits as needed (it usually stays on your skin for 2-4 days before peeling at the edges). Also, we can show you how to apply it at home. You can purchase it from several websites for about $14 per roll. Kinesio® is the original brand that researched and developed the method of taping. Other brands now exist, like KT Tape and Rock Tape, which are very similar.
Read more about k-taping---I was highlighted in the October 2009 issue of Triathlete magazine