Kinesiology tape is one of the most popular non-invasive treatments for minor muscle injuries. If you are planning to try it out, you won’t be disappointed. With the right knowledge and proper application, you will be able to gain the benefits from kinesiology taping.
Kinesiology tape is said to potentially reduce muscle pain and muscle soreness. Unfortunately, pain relief cannot be guaranteed. At the same time, you will gain more body awareness. However, before applying kinesiology tape for the first time yourself, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with proper application techniques.
Here, we have provided answers to your most frequently asked questions about kinesiology tape application.
Precautions for Kinesiology Tape Use
When applying kinesiology tape, do not apply to broken or damaged skin. If you have sensitive skin and it is your first time using kinesiology tape, perform a 24 hour skin test by first only applying a small patch of tape to the area you would like to treat. If any skin irritation occurs, remove the tape right away.
Remove kinesiology tape if you were to notice any:
- Skin irritation
- Pain or discomfort
- Increased swelling
- Tingling of fingers or toes
- Severe itching
We do not recommend using kinesiology tape if you have any of the following medical conditions:
- Congestive heart failure
- Renal insufficiency
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Active Cancer
Skin Preparation Prior to Using Kinesiology Tape
Kinesiology tape directly interacts with the skin and its underlying structures. Kinesiology tape also influences similar systems your skin does, such as the neurosensory system, which is responsible for carrying pain signals to the brain. Therefore, as you apply the tape, it will act as an extension of the skin.
Here is a quick step-by-step guide to preparing the area of skin where you will be using the kinesiology tape:
- Clean the skin with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. Make sure that the area is oil-free and dry. Make sure to remove any lotion.
- If there is any thick hair on the area you wish to tape, it is best to trim the hair to about 1/8” so as not to interfere with the tape’s ability to stick to the skin. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to shave the hair on the skin prior to the application of kinesiology tape.
Preparing Your Kinesiology Tape
If you are using a kinesiology tape roll, you need to round every corner when cutting the tape so that the edges will not peel prematurely due to rubbing on clothing or other materials.
- Determine the number of pieces you need and your required length.
- Use sharp scissors to cut the tape.
- Round all the corners.
- Fold a couple of inches from one end and tear the backing paper.
Make sure to avoid touching the adhesive side of the tape when you remove the backing. Note, that if you are also able to purchase pre cut rolls of kinesiology tape which simplifies the process. However, not all precut kinesiology strips will be the right length for all applications. You may require longer pieces or shorter pieces for certain body parts. If shorter pieces are needed you can cut precut strips to the desired length or shape.
Different Types of Application
Kinesiology tape can be applied in various shapes:
- Y shape - often used to surround the target muscle and must be 2” longer than the affected muscle. It is used to cross sensitive areas such as the ones behind the knee or in front of the elbow. That said, a Y shape is often used for applications to control the position of the kneecap.
- I shape - used for acute injuries, alignment correction and oedema. It is used for muscle facilitation and inhibition. Usually, the I shape is used to help support muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It is commonly used for the rotator cuff, gluteus muscles, quadriceps, or Achilles tendon. In some cases, it is used on the lower and middle back to help maintain a proper posture.
- X shape - used when the origin and insertion of the affected muscle change on movement. It is used to cover large parts of the body and if there is a need to cross multiple joints. The tabs of the X shape crossover on sensitive areas such as the back of the knees and elbows. This shape is commonly used for the hamstrings.
- Fan / Web - used for oedema. The web-shaped application is different because the ends will remain intact. The goal of a fan shape is to reduce the pressure on the area that will allow the lymphatic fluid to drain away through nearby lymph ducts.
- Donut - also used for oedema and requires overlapping strips while the center is cut out over the target area. This shape is used to inhibit overused or stretched muscles.
The shape will vary based on the size of the affected muscle and the result that you want to achieve.
When applying your kinesiology tape, below are some additional tips you may find useful:
- Activate the tape - since the tape is made with an acrylic adhesive that is heat-activated, you can activate it by rubbing the tape from the center towards the ends of each strip. You can use your bare hands for this. Remember not to rub from the ends toward the center.
- Use adhesive spray - an adhesive spray can come in handy. The spray can be applied to areas that are prone to friction. Additionally, the spray can help prevent the ends of the tape from being lifted.
- Do not overstretch - be careful not to overstretch the tape during application. If you are unsure of how much you should stretch your tape, it is always better to under-stretch than overstretch kinesiology tape. In addition, avoid stretching the ends of the tape. The ends of the tape are a form of anchoring. The ends, which should be about 2 inches long from each side, are the last part you are attaching to your skin.
Seek Advice From a Specialist
You can apply kinesiology tape on your own. However, if you are unsure about how to tape a certain body part or have questions regarding a specific injury, you can always consult a specialist such as a sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist, or chiropractor.
What To Do When Your Tape Gets Wet
You do not have to worry about getting your tape wet. Kinesiology tape is water-resistant therefore, you can shower, bathe, or even swim whilst wearing the tape. After activities that cause the tape to get wet, you can dry it by gently patting the tape down with a towel. Best to allow the tape to dry for at least 20-30 minutes before doing any other activities.
Keep in mind not to use a hairdryer to dry kinesiology tape, as this may cause the adhesive to melt. Should the tape start to peel or rollback, you can trim the loose side with a pair of scissors.
Removing Your Tape
While many brands will stress that kinesiology tape can be worn for several days at a time, we recommend wearing kinesio tape for no longer than three days, with one day break in-between wears. This allows your skin some time to breathe.
When it is time to take off your tape, you do not need to rush to your therapist’s office to have it removed—you can easily do it on your own. Here are some tips:
Remember to peel the skin from the tape, and not the other way around.
- Always remove the tape in the same direction as the hair underneath it.
- Never rip off the tape like it’s an ordinary plaster because it’s going to be painful this way.
- Start slowly and fold the corners well.
- Make sure to lay the removed tape on the back of the applied tape.
- Hold your skin down with your other hand or tap it while you peel off the tape.
- If the tape is applied over a hairy area, press down on the tape as you peel it off. The pressure will help prevent pain.
- You can also apply oil on the tape and wait around 10 to 20 minutes before removing it. The oil will reduce the stickiness of the tape.
- Consider removing the tape while you are in the shower. Make sure that the tape is thoroughly wet to help ease the removal process.
When removing the kinesiology tape from your skin, always remember to take your time.
What Happens When Kinesiology Tape is Applied Incorrectly
There is a proper application to kinesiology tape. As mentioned above, various shapes have specific purposes. So, what happens to the affected area when the tape is misapplied?
The common misconception is when the tape is applied incorrectly, it will cause pain or do more harm than good. This is not the case. The worst that could happen is that you will not get the relief that you need when kinesio tape is applied incorrectly. Therefore, it is crucial to get informed on proper application techniques, prior to applying kinesiology tape.
We hope this article answers your questions about kinesiology tape application. Applying kinesiology tape is easy. All of the tips mentioned in this article will help you get the most out of kinesiology taping.
There are many resources that can be easily accessed online to show the proper procedure for taping specific areas of the body. Consulting a specialist is also a great way of gaining knowledge on how to tape areas you need to treat the most.
Nevertheless, you can apply kinesiology tape on your own. All you need is to follow the right tips and do your research well. Kinesiology tape will provide you with the relief you deserve to continue your active lifestyle.
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