Kinesio tape, what is it and what does it do?
What is it and what does it do?
Kinesio tape is an elastic tape that is used by (top) athletes and physiotherapists. It stimulates the healing process after injuries or offers a preventive protective effect against overload. When applied correctly, the tape relieves pain and provides support to muscles and joints. It can even reduce hay fever complaints by up to 84%. We will tell you more about how Kinesiotape works and give you tips on the correct application method.
What should you pay attention to?
If you want to buy kinesio tape you are exposed to a huge supply. In recent years, the concept of 'Medical Taping' has grown in popularity. As a result, 'low budget' tapes and suppliers have sprung up like mushrooms. This can cause problems. Cheap suppliers often save on product quality, such as a bad adhesive layer which can cause skin irritations, poor elasticity or no adhesive strength. Especially if you want to exercise with kinesio tape, it is useful that it stays in place.
Several things are important to help you on your way.
- is the tape CE or similar certified (TÜV or ASTM)
- does the tape stretch well?
- is the tape water-resistant and repellent
- is the tape skin-friendly
- the tape stays on the skin for more than 3 days
Where does it come from?
The multicolored pieces of tape you see on athletes are mostly pieces kinesiotape. Kinesio taping is part of the so-called Medical Taping Concept, which was founded more than 40 years ago, mainly in Japan and Korea. This philosophy is based on the fact that muscles are not only necessary for movement, but also determine the blood and lymph flow. Elastic tape that, provided it has the right properties, is able to support the muscles in the correct way, can therefore play an important role in the functioning of the muscle tissue and (help) heal various injuries or aches. These are not mere assumptions, by the way, but an important effect has been demonstrated by extensive scientific research. Later on, it was also noticed that the same theory also appeared to be applicable outside the muscle tissue.
What is it?
Kinesiotape is an elastic, cotton tape, often with anti-allergic properties. The tape has a similar stretch as the skin (namely 140%), but is only stretchable in one direction (unlike Dynamic Tape, for example). The adhesive layer on the tape is activated by body heat, so that the tape can often be worn for several days and it is relatively resistant to, for example, water.
What does it do?
For most applications of kinesiotape use is made of the elasticity relative to the skin. After all, when the tape is applied while the skin is stretched, the tape ensures that the skin is lifted slightly when the muscle is relaxed (well-applied tape can therefore often be recognized by the ridges that appear, the so-called convolutions). The main effect of these curves is that more space is created in the subcutaneous tissue, which stimulates the flow of blood and lymphatic vessels.
An improvement in circulation and a decrease in pressure (more space = less pressure) quickly creates pain relief. By decreasing the pain, you can move faster and better, which only further promotes the healing process. In contrast to regular tape, kinesio tape mainly promotes movement, where rigid tape (eg for a sprained ankle) is applied earlier to limit movement. Based on the philosophy of the Medical Taping Concept, the promotion of physiological movements only promotes the recovery of tissues.
In addition to this pain-reducing effect, kinesio tape has other areas of application. For example, depending on the technique of attachment, it can influence the tone of the muscles. After all, the direction of construction influences the degree of tonization (tensioning) or detonization (relaxation) of the muscle, an effect that can be determined by electromyographic examination (EMG). Because of a complicated interplay of circumstances, the tape “pulls” towards the base of application. So if you apply the tape from origin to insertion of a muscle (eg in the quadriceps: from the muscle abdomen on the buttock to below the knee), you stimulate the muscle to shorten, to contract. On the other hand, if you apply the tape from below the knee upwards, you encourage the muscle to lengthen, to relax. The status of the muscle is an important difference in injuries (detonization, relaxation is usually aimed at) and you immediately understand that this can be a tricky point if the tape is applied incorrectly.
Apart from the pain-reducing and muscle-supporting effect, kinesio tape can also play an important role in the support of joints, blood and lymph drainage stimulate or neuro-reflective pathways to influence. But that would lead us too far…
Miracles do not exist. And certainly not in sports. It is clear that kinesio tape has revolutionized (sports) medicine and physiotherapy in recent years. That at such a European Championship, for example, almost all decathletes have a colored piece of tape to be found somewhere, should not be surprising. These sportsmen and women push their bodies to the limit and certainly at a major championship there are sometimes athletes who – although they suffer from pain – still want to bite the bullet. The Belarusian decathlete Andrei Krauchanka was the most extreme example of this last night (see video below, although he was especially included on the BBC images and it was only really clear). The man walked, stuck together with kinesiotape, to trekkelegs on his closing 1500m. Krauchanka managed to limit the damage to his closest competitors and thus still took home the gold medal in the decathlon. Not ideal for sports like that, but if 1500 meters is the only thing separating you from a European title, then all aids are welcome.
Where to buy?
Kinesiotape or Sporttape is being sold in more and more places. Think of discount supermarkets such as Kruidvat or Action, but also pharmacies and even hardware stores. However, there is an increasing difference in quality, as we have already mentioned.
You can of course also order kinesio tape online. This can be done at large web shops or individual wholesalers such as Intertaping.BV.
Intertaping specializes in advice and distribution of medical tapes, support tapes and related products for professional therapists, physiotherapists, sports therapists and (semi) professional athletes. We sell different brands of kinesio tape in different colors. More information about other types of Kinesio Tape can be found here:
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