Sports fans may be noticing a lot of their favorite athletes these days are sporting various strips of brightly colored tape on different parts of their bodies. They are not simply displaying the latest fashion trend, but are benefiting from Kinesio taping.
Kinesio taping, which has been around for more than three decades, is quickly gaining in popularity for use by people suffering from sports injuries or musculoskeletal and inflammatory conditions. Many athletes find the tape also improves their performance on the field. It also can help prevent injuries or allow them to return to play more quickly.
First adopted by the Japanese Olympic team and other professional athletes in the 1980s, Kinesio taping uses a thin, elastic cotton strip that has acrylic adhesive to stick to the skin in patterns that will speed recovery from trauma or will help prevent injuries. The tape has been shown to help with a variety of conditions. Also, because the tape can be left on the skin for up to five days, its benefits are available around the clock.
Kinesio taping helps relieve pain through mechanisms both physical and neurological in nature. The tape has a lifting action on the skin, providing direct relief to pain receptors located there. It also can help with chronic pain by stimulating the nerve fibers, which is an action that can be useful for persistent pain that may exist after an injury has healed.
By reducing pressure and enhancing circulation, Kinesio taping also has been shown to be effective in reducing swelling, bruising, and inflammation and to relieve or prevent cramping or muscle spasms. This is true in the case of overused muscles, which can benefit from the tape encouraging the removal of lactic acid and other byproducts of exercise. This will allow for a faster rebound from high activity or endurance events.
Athletes have found that Kinesio taping will enhance the muscle tone and strength in muscles that already have been injured, allowing them to remain active. Because the tape has the same flexibility and thickness of skin, it does not constrict their range of motion and will not interfere with their activities.
For those who are not athletes, this aspect of Kinesio taping means they will be able to perform exercises that will improve their condition and to continue with most of their daily activities. The support and enhanced muscle tone the tape offers has been used to help children with hypotonia, or extremely poor muscle tone, which hinders their ability to crawl, roll over, or sit up.