Several years ago during the 2012 Summer Olympics we all noticed the beach volleyball players wearing tape across their shoulders, knees, and back. Kinesiology taping is a technique using a very elastic tape to provide stability while allowing movement of the joint. It is a modality we can use in physical therapy to help in recovery from an injury or even surgery.
My own experience with kinesiology tape has been successful! I have always struggled with right anterior hip and lateral leg pain after participating in longer distance running races. Typically, the evening after a race my muscles would be extremely fatigued, and I would have mild aching. Then by the next morning, I could barely move because my muscles were so sore and stiff. The last half marathon I thought I would be proactive and put on kinesiology tape before I raced. I was more than excited how I felt after running. I had minimal to no pain in my right leg and I was able to walk without pain the next day.
So how does it work? The tape helps to facilitate healing by moving with your skin increasing the space between tissues. This decompression reduces the pressure on the pain receptors and will help stimulate the lymphatic drainage system. By stimulating the lymphatic system, the body is able to reduce swelling and further improve pain by removing irritants. This decompression also aids in increasing blood flow to the area the tape covers further helping with healing. This is helpful with both sports injuries and post-surgical recovery.
The KT taping technique can be used for multiple reasons including but not limited to muscle fatigue recovery (like I described in my own experience), reduction of bruising, and improving scar mobility. While kinesiology tape often seems like a “magic tape,” it is only a tool amongst many in the physical therapy tool box.
Written by: Laura McCallister, PT, DPT