It’s hard to miss the brightly colored stripes every athlete seems to have crisscrossing their muscles and joints these days. Kinesio taping, or KT, is a thriving modality for both athletic and in-office applications. In fact, many bodyworkers are considering adding kinesio taping certification to their repertoire to benefit their clients or to advance their business into new markets.
What Is Kinesio Taping?
Kinesio taping rocketed into the international spotlight during the 2012 Olympics, but it’s been around for decades. The technique was developed in 1979 by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase. Dr. Kase observed that observed that while manual therapies like chiropractic care and massage therapy offered substantial benefits to his clients, the effects were often temporary.
Dr. Kase altered existing therapeutic taping techniques to create kinesio taping, a method of helping his clients extend the benefits of their treatment between appointments. KT is believed to support injured or overworked areas of the body, reducing pain and swelling.
Today, kinesio taping is used by bodyworkers, chiropractors and physical therapists to support:
- Acute injury
- Chronic pain
- Posture and joint instability
- Pregnant women
The tape itself is made from breathable, elastic fibers designed to mimic human skin. It allows for a 30-40% stretch along its vertical axis only, and it can be applied with varying degrees of tension. Practitioners with kinesio taping certification apply it with muscle groups, joint actions, fascia and lymph flow in mind depending on therapy goals.
Benefits of Kinesio Taping
Those bright stripes aren’t just for athletes. With proper technique, kinesio taping can be used to address almost any joint or muscular concern that a bodyworker treats in the office. Kinsesio taping is believed to work in two key ways. The first is by providing stability and structure. The second is by lifting skin and fascia away from the muscle surface.
- By providing stability and structure, kinesio taping can be used to keep unstable or damaged joints in alignment without limiting range of motion. It can also be used to bring the body back into alignment, which may help decrease pain and improve concerns like posture and tracking.
- By lifting skin and fascia off muscle surfaces, kinesio taping can be used to improve the flow of blood and lymph in key areas. The positive impact of KT on lymphedema is one of the most researched benefits. It’s also believed that the lifting action may reduce fascia tension and pressure on pain receptors, reducing overall sensations of pain.
These effects in tandem can be used to allow select joints and muscle groups to move more freely with less pain, maintain benefits between bodywork session and possibly improve recovery times after injury.
Kinesio Taping on Competitive Circuits
The Olympics aren’t the only arena where kinesio taping grabs attention. You can spot the colorful bands on football players, mountain bikers, casual competitive runners and practically any other athlete. In competitive sport, the benefits of kinesio taping utilized from training all the way to post-event rehabilitation.
- Training: KT is used in the treatment of joint stability, postural concerns and management of long-term injury.
- Pre-Event: KT is further used for stabilization and to minimize any existing swelling.
- Inter-Event: When a muscle is injured during an event, KT may be used to provide immediate relief from pain and swelling, allowing the athlete to continue without as much of an impediment.
- Post-Event: KT provides continued support to injured areas and reduction of swelling in stressed muscle groups.
- Rehabilitation: KT’s original purpose is to help extend the benefits of manual therapies. After an event, injury or overtraining, KT is known to make fascia easier to manipulate, provide stability and take some pressure off overworked muscle groups.
How is Kinesio Tape Applied?
Designed to be worn up to four days, kinesio tape sticks in place using heat- and pressure-sensitive adhesives. It’s applied stretched, running from a muscle origin to its insertion point. The tape is made from breathable, latex-free elastic, and it can be worn while swimming or bathing. Some brands, like Rock Tape, use cotton blends. Others, like KT Tape, are 100% synthetic fibers and come in reflective colors for nighttime safety use.
During kinesio taping courses, bodyworkers can learn taping methods specific to certain injuries or conditions. Some common taping shapes (or “cuts”) are:
- V: Used for medium-sized muscles with a combination of broad and taped areas, like the deltoid
- Y: Used to circle around sensitive areas, like behind the knee, or stabilize joints like the knee or elbow.
- X: Used for large, long and broad muscles, like the biceps femoris
- Fan: Used for swelling and lymphedema
The average kinesio taping course provides 3 to 16 hours of continuing education credits. Multiple levels and some specialty courses that provide kinesio taping certification are often available. Whether it’s working with athletes before a marathon or helping expecting mothers stay active, there are many ways bodyworkers can use KT to benefit their practice.