Exercise is a vital activity that keeps us not only fit but healthy too! That’s why many of us prioritize making the time to insert a workout session or two each week.
However, this kind of activity does come with sore muscles, which can be quite discouraging for some, especially for those who are trying to be consistent with exercising.
Luckily, there are many ways we can manage soreness from exercise!
For some, this comes in the form of taking cold showers or stretching, but for others, the life-saver is Kinesiology Tape.
Find out what this is, how to use it, what are its benefits, and a whole lot more below:
What is Kinesiology Tape?
The word “Kinesiology” refers to the study of movement. This tape got its name because it targets and guides muscle movement.
Kinesio or K-tape is flexible and thin. It’s used to not only relieve pain but also to reduce swelling and provide support to muscles and joints as well.
Some may confuse this with more traditional athletic tape, but there’s a big difference.
Yes, both tapes are used to treat injuries, but athletic tape is preferred for splinting and is often used when stability is critical while K-tape reduces pain without limiting motion.
How Does Kinesiology Tape Help You Recover Quickly?
The tape works in a way where it lifts the skin, so it gives more room for the blood to flow, thus increasing oxygen and improving circulation. This leads to pain relief, inflammation reduction, and, ultimately, healing.
One can especially use this right after an injury occurs for faster recovery in the affected joints or muscles.
Kinesiology Sports Tape is specifically designed to aid with any sports-related or exercise-related injuries which are perfect when you want to drain the waste (lactic acid) from the lymphatic system. This is commonly practiced after intense activities to quicken the rehabilitation of the muscles.
Some of the most common injuries include Achilles tendonitis, instability, shin splints, sprains, strains, and swelling.
Since we can’t entirely do away with accidents during active movement, it’s ideal that we prepare as much as we can to limit the severity of injuries.
Have a tape or two at the ready for emergency cases – yes, even when you’re just at the gym.
Who Can Use This?
Because this is an excellent tool to use for injuries made from strenuous activities, many athletes own some. It’s common for them to pack this every time they practice or do a workout.
Of course, anyone active or suffering can use this too.
People who seek relief from muscle soreness or inflammation can benefit from this. Those with chronic physical pain and those who have taxing jobs that physically exhaust them can take a K-tape with them for instant relief.
How Do You Apply Kinesiology Tape?
Applying it is simple, but you have to consider multiple factors before beginning so you can maximize the tape’s full potential.
Don’t worry though, these are simple guidelines:
There are 3 styles when applying the tapes:
o I Strip – This is the simplest style of applying a K-tape. You just need a single strip of tape. Cut a strip and simply apply it to the skin. The length depends on how big the affected area is. This is ideal for large muscles or any specific areas of pain. Because of its straightforward “I” form, it’s called the I Strip.
o Y Strip – The Y Strip is just an enhanced version of an I Strip. The name is also taken from its form, the letter Y. This is used when you want to utilize a single strip and target different angles. To make one, you simply cut the tape in half around the center. Leave a part above uncut, just enough to hold the entire tape together as you move one side of the strip to another area. As you separate the strips, you create a Y while targeting two injured areas.
o Lymphatic Fan – The Lymphatic fan is the upgraded version of the Y strip. Once you’ve successfully made a Y strip, all you have to do is simply cut each strip into two, creating four total strips. One can create three strips and cut just one of the strips, but usually, four are used. This is perfect for reducing swelling and can be evenly applied to the affected area.
Once you pick a style to use, you’ll have to know what kind of technique you’re going to use for the application. There are two ways:
o Muscle or Neutral Technique – This technique means that the muscle is stretched, not the tape. Before applying the tape, the injured area is stretched. This is typically preferred when there are muscle strains or muscle activation.
o Stretch Technique – This technique is the opposite, which means that the tape itself is applied with stretching to lift the skin. This relieves pressure and pain. This is ideal when you are targeting particular points or for anatomical corrections.
● Steps for a Successful Application
Applying Kinesiology tape will need certain steps to ensure that it will last long.
Follow these suggestions and your tape will likely last from 3-to 5 days:
Step 1: Prepare a Proper Pair of Scissors
First, you want to prepare your materials. Apart from preparing your k-tape, you’ll need a reliable pair of scissors. When cutting, the tape must be cut sharply, with a clean edge. A blunt one will cause your tape to fray and peel away. This makes it uncomfortable on the skin. Don’t underestimate the importance of good scissors.
Step 2: Dry and Clean Skin
Next, make sure that everything is clean, including the affected area. The skin should be dry and free from wax, hair, and moisture. This way, the glue will stick well on the skin and the tape will last longer.
Step 3: Apply with Enough Time in Mind
When you start applying the glue, you’ll have to consider the time. Don’t apply it when you’re in a rush because the glue needs to be set first. Prepare at least 30 minutes to 1 hour for a better outcome.
Step 4: Never Touch the Glue
When applying the glue, let it set on the skin without touching it to maintain the integrity of the adhesive. Carefully take off the back paper from multiple points so that you can successfully stick it without contact.
Step 5: Careful with Stretching
While you’ll have to pull the tape, never overstretch it. Too much stretching will recoil the tape too much, thus creating too much friction. Don’t stretch beyond 50-75% and check if the tape is fully applied to the skin.
Step 6: Tape it Directly on the Skin
This last step means that you’ll have to make sure that the tape is applied directly to the skin. Some people stick one tape on another tape, and while they do stick together, it’s much more effective on the skin.
Things to Consider Before Buying Your Own Kinesiology Tape
Now that you’re aware of its benefits and how to apply it effectively, take note that there are guidelines to consider first before using this tape:
● Get a Diagnosis
While K-tapes are available online, you can get them from Hampton Adams e-shop or by your local shops, consider diagnosing your pain first. Whether it’s chronic or not, you must see a doctor.
Remember, this shouldn’t be your primary treatment plan though it can be used as one if your doctor says so.
Using K-tape without a doctor’s clearance may even make the problem worse, so consider purchasing one after you’ve spoken with your physician.
● Know its Purpose
Don’t forget what K-tape is for. Don’t mistake this for an athletic tape.
Remember, Kinesiology tapes are for helping with pain and reducing swelling.
This tape does not help with stability but is used for pain relief.
● Respect the Limit
When you’ve used your K-tape and the pain is still there, consider seeing your doctor again.
Your doctor may initially give you the go-signal to use a K-tape, but don’t hesitate to book another consultation if the pain persists.
Chances are, there could be other elements that should be addressed for the pain to go away.
Overall, kinesiology tapes are reliable and work great, especially when applied as quickly as possible after an injury.
While more studies regarding K-tape are ongoing, Kinesiology tapes are already widely used. Give this a go, and see if it works well for you too.