Table of Contents
We often see,
especially athletes, wearing elastic bandages known as Kinesio tape on their
limbs or torso, of different colors, and in different ways.
However, apart from
athletes, we also use them in patients with orthopedic and neurological
problems and children with neurological and other disorders.
We also see it even
for aesthetic reasons. So, imagine how widespread the use of tape is and not
unfairly we would say.
The name Kinesio tape
is the name of one of the many brands of these elastic bands. As it is so, it
would be good to refer to this product as an elastic or kinesiology tape. But
because Kinesio tape has prevailed and for purely practical reasons we use it
as Kinesio tape in this article.
So, let’s see for what
purposes we use it so much in rehabilitation and more. Let’s find out what
these elastic bandages are, what they help with, and where their application is
What is taping or KinesioTape?
Let’s start by knowing
the tape or otherwise Kinesio tape or taping or kinesiology tape. They are all
the same thing. It simply changes the name of each brand, that can promote its
Elastic tape or taping
is an elastic self-adhesive tape that can stretch up to 140% longer than its
original length. The different but also effective use has made it a valuable
tool in the hands of physiotherapists.
Taping is the use of
elastic bandages, which have been used for about two centuries, since 1800.
Today there are over 50 brands that produce elastic tapes.
But the Kinesio tape was
developed in the late ‘70s by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor. He was
looking for a tape that would provide support, but not restrict the movement in
the way traditional sports tapes were doing until then.
What is the material of the tape?
Kase created the
Kinesio tape with an exclusive blend of cotton and nylon. It is designed to
mimic the elasticity of the skin so that the person can move in the full range
The tape adhesive is
also water-resistant and strong enough and is heat-activated to hold it in
place on the skin for three to five days, even when the person is exercising or
It is hypoallergenic
and does not contain latex, reducing the chances of an allergic reaction. We
must emphasize that there is no physical or chemical difference between the
The different designs
and colors have only the purpose to have a different palette and to match any
colors of the athlete or the child or to be almost invisible (beige color). It could
be selected accordingly by the patient or the athlete.
Where is Kinesio tape used?
treatment with elastic tape or Kinesio tape, as it is globally known today, is
another tool in our hands. It is very common in rehabilitation but also in the
prevention of muscle and joint injuries such as sprains, fractures, tendonitis,
Kinesio tape removes
stress, tension from the joints creating a rubber effect that modifies movement
while supporting muscles and tendons.
It is used in many
rehabilitation programs for both athletes and patients with orthopedic or
neurological problems but also children with cerebral palsy or other similar
problems or deficits.
It is applied to the
muscle selected by the therapist and is indirectly proportional to the desired
result. The way of the application is different for each person depending on
There is a whole
philosophy and technique behind the placement of the tape and this will be
attempted to be analyzed below.
Where does the application of Taping or Kinesio tape help?
When the tape is
applied to the body, it slightly and gently lifts the skin. This is believed to
help create a tiny space between the skin and the tissues beneath it.
In a small study of 32
participants, it appeared that when an elastic tape was applied over the knee,
the space at the knee joint increased. Also, a similar study applying Kinesio
tape to the shoulder showed similar effects of increasing space in the shoulder
joint. Even if the increase is very small it can reduce the chance of
irritation of these joints.
Taping is generally
used as a recovery tool as it contributes:
• pain relief,
• relaxation of tight
muscle groups or joints,
• improving athletic
• in the stabilization
of the joints,
• in support of the
natural healing process in the body
• reduce muscle
fatigue and to
• to help muscle
• to improve posture
• to improve balance,
• to organize kinetic
• to facilitate
• to improve sensory
• to support ligaments
To improve lymph and
blood circulation, and
• to increase the
range of motion.
children and pediatric rehabilitation, in addition to all the above, the
Kinesio tape can also contribute:
• to improve the
• to facilitate the postural
• to facilitate gross
and fine motor skills
• to facilitate oral
We can use this technique
in many different diagnoses. Such is cerebral palsy (hypotension or
hypertension), plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome, in where there are tight,
weak, inflammatory muscles or muscle pain but also in any other motor-sensory
disorder were deemed necessary by the specialized pediatric physiotherapist.
What are the precautions of the Kinesio tape application?
Generally, it is very
well tolerated by patients and there are not many contraindications but for the
application, precautions should be taken if:
• there have been
previous reactions to the film,
• there is reduced
sensation or gastrointestinal problems such as severe reflux,
• there is an allergy
to film materials
• there is a
disturbance of movement and/or sensation in the affected area.
• there is an open
wound or trauma
• in active cancer
• the patient has a
• has open sores,
irritation, rash, or infection of the area to be applied
• has a history of
hypersensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions (psoriasis, eczema,
• deep vein thrombosis
(DVT) is suspected,
• has diabetes,
• has venous
• has peripheral
• is a newborn in the
In any case, remove
the tape if you see redness on the skin around the tape that remains for more
than twenty-four hours. In the beginning, it is normal to have a little redness
as there is an increase in perspiration in the application area.
The material of the tape
is hypoallergenic and completely permeable to air. In addition, it allows the
skin to which it is applied to breathe. However, if you notice blisters or
severe itching it will also be removed immediately as there is probably an
allergic reaction to the glue or tape material.
If any of these occur,
especially if applied to a child, it is a good idea to contact your therapist
or your doctor immediately. However, usually after the removal of the tape,
there are no other symptoms and the skin returns completely in a few hours.
How is Kinesio tape applied?
The Kinesio tape is
applied to the affected muscle in a stretching position from the beginning of
the muscle to the appropriate point chosen by the physiotherapist for the best
The skin must be dry
and clean so that there is nothing to impede the firm placement of the tape.
Properly covered, it will withstand a lot of adverse conditions for up to five
Once the application
is done, it has to be rubbed a little on the skin, carefully without touching
the edges of the tape. This will activate the glue which is sensitive to heat
but also to pressure and will stick better.
Be careful, we must
not heat the tape with any kind of heat (hairdryer, etc.) except with our
hands. In any different case, the glue will stick too much to the skin and will
not be easily removed.
How to remove Kinesio tape?
The tape comes out
easier when it is wet. You can also apply any oil or baby oil to the tape and
let it soak.
Watch for skin
problems around the area and redness under and around the tape. It may be
normal as the tape increases circulation but should go away within 24 hours.
If the redness lasts
longer or has blisters at that point on the skin or severe itching, the Kinesio
tape should be removed immediately.
You can take a shower
or a bath. The tape will absorb water but will dry in about 20 minutes. Do not
rub it, as this will cause the edges to unstock.
Do not use a hairdryer
to dry the film as the heat will harden the glue and it will be very difficult
and painful to remove it.
How does elastic tape or Kinesio tape help the recovery?
When the tape is
applied to the affected muscle, it lifts the skin. This creates a small space
between the muscle layers and the skin. Thus, the pressure of the injured
muscles is reduced, and as a result, we have a reduction in pain, a reduction
in local acute inflammation, and more free muscle movement.
Lifting the skin
stimulates the removal of waste products and increases the supply of oxygen to
the muscle tissue so that it can regain muscle strength.
It should be
emphasized here that the benefits can be many but only the correct placement
brings the desired results. So do not try to install it yourself if you do not
have the appropriate knowledge.
So, let’s see how it
works in the tissues and how it differentiates pain and inflammation.
What is the mechanism behind the taping that works as a recovery?
It changes the pain
Numerous studies have
shown that applying elastic tape can actually reduce pain and lead to faster
recovery or function facilitation even after surgery.
Let’s see what is the
mechanism that works so positively behind the application of tape.
Creates a gap
between skin and muscle or between the skin and joints.
All tissues, skin,
connective tissue, fascia, muscles contain sensory receptors that feel pain,
temperature, and touch. All of these receptors contribute to susceptibility,
that is, your brain’s sense of where your body is and what it is doing.
The elastic tape
creates a lift that removes the underlying tissues. So, the decompression of
these tissues changes the aesthetic signals that go to the brain. Thus, the
brain receives a different signal and responds differently depending on the new
In this way, when
there is an elastic tape applied and the pain point is decompressed, if the
skin is ‘lifted’ by the aching or tight muscles, the brain receives the message
that there is no more pressure so the tension decreases.
It changes the pain
signals from the brain to the area of inflammation
The mechanism is
simple. Pressure = pain and decompression = relief. In each case, we cause
artificial decompression of the area of pain or intense tension and we have
different information and response from the brain.
So, what we are called
to try to do to soothe the area and the patient or athlete is to decongest the
area and help the healing process. Taping is our ally in this endeavor.
It can improve
blood and fluid circulation
Following an injury, Kinesio
tape can help improve circulation as well as reduce swelling in the affected
According to a study
of 2017, taping can improve blood flow and lymph circulation. Lymph has water
as the main ingredient. Lymph also contains proteins, bacteria, and other
chemicals. The lymphatic system is the way the body responds to inflammation
and regulates swelling and fluid retention.
Helping to improve the
lymphatic circulation also helps to remove, through it, the useless products of
the area of inflammation or injury.
In addition to
removing waste products, it significantly increases the oxygenation of the
area, which helps increase muscle strength.
Where is Kinesio tape or elastic kinesiology tape used?
As a treatment for
we use elastic tape as another tool that will help in the quick recovery of the
patient. It is part of a set of other therapeutic methods of our treatment
plan, which will be applied to the patient.
Research has shown
that optimal results are obtained when there is a combination of kinesiotherapy
or a general rehabilitation program along with tape application.
To support joints
or weak muscles
The application of
elastic tape can and is widely used to support muscles or joints that appear
weak while providing additional support.
In many cases of
instability of a joint or in tendonitis or in syndromes that show friction
between muscle groups or joint surfaces, the application of tape is valuable.
Retrain muscles or
The application of
elastic tape has been found to help retrain the function of muscle groups that
have lost the ability to move or even use non-functional patterns to move.
This happens very
often in neurological patients or in children with cerebral palsy or other
similar abnormalities. Applying tape in such cases is really valuable in trying
to retrain normal motor patterns.
By using the tape, we
help the muscle groups to act in more normal functional patterns. This is a
valuable tool in our hands.
Elastic tape is not allowed
on open wounds. However, today there are scientific sources that it seems that
the application of elastic tape can also improve the long-term appearance of
scars after injury or surgery.
Never apply the tape
yourself in any such case before consulting your doctor. What is good for
someone is not necessarily good for everyone.
tissue and joint alignment
Successfully used as a
therapeutic tool by specialist physiotherapists in the rehabilitation of
pediatric, geriatric, orthopedic, neurological, oncological, and other patients
in daily and home therapy.
In any case, the
application of tape to a patient is an additional tool of rehabilitation. It is
not applied by people who are not trained because it can be ineffective or even
painful or with opposite results from what we have tried for.
Knowledge and scientific
training must always be our priority for the best desired results in our patients.