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The use of Kinesio® Tape or as some say “K-tape”, has become an adjunct to other forms of treatment. It can be used to support chiropractic adjustments and exercises long after the in-office treatment. But how does this tape work? And why is it any different from other forms of taping?

Supportive taping has been popular for a long time now, but the style of K-tape has only recently been discovered by the public. Kinesio® Tape made its first appearance in sports by the late 1980’s and steadily gained popularity within the sports realm. It wasn’t until 2008 during the Beijing Olympics that public attention was brought to the tape. On this world stage, the tape was made most famous by beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings as her and Misty May-Treanor won gold with the tape applied to Walsh’s shoulder during the majority of games. Since then, the tape has been used by more medical professionals and now sold in stores for people to use on their own. Today it is still a popular tool used to support athletes and from time-to-time, you will see professional athletes subtly wearing it during their games. Unknown to most, taping has even become applicable for the use in animals (i.e. Equine and canines).


Pain relief: Pain alleviation is achieved by the tapes ability to act on receptors found in the skin. This effect alters the signal to the brain and results in modulation of pain sensation.(1)

Decreased inflammation: Facilitation of lymphatic drainage occurs due to the adhesive design creating a convoluted pattern, resulting in microscopic separation of the skin and fascia. This decompression forms space for improved clearance of inflammatory waste.

Muscular awareness: Similarly, to pain relief, application of tape provides a different feedback from local receptors in the skin, which in turn, increases awareness of possible hypotonic or neurologically weakened muscles.(3) Basically, you feel the tape, so now you are aware of the tissue surrounding it.

What is kinesiology tape?

Kinesiology tape is a therapeutic tape that is thin and stretchy and is designed to promote movement as opposed to immobilizing an injured region of the body. Kinesiology tape is used to help relieve a patient’s pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, provide structural support to joints and muscles, and enhance athletic performance. While it is most often used as a sports tape for injured athletes, it can also be used in the healthcare settings to address a wide variety of inflammatory conditions or to speed recovery after surgery.

How does kinesiology tape differ from conventional sports tape?

Unlike most athletic tape or medical tape that is non-elastic and restrictive, kinesiology tape is light, thin and flexible.   Designed to mimic the same thickness and elasticity as human skin, it is comfortable and easy to wear. Most applications can be worn from 3-5 days, even through showering, swimming or intense exercise. Kinesiology tape comes in rolls, precut strips and precut applications for specific parts of the body, making application by the physician and the patient very simple.


How long does kinesiology taping take to work?

Every patient is different so naturally the response from patient to patient will be variable.  From a clinical standpoint, there are two critical healing components of recovery that kinesiology taping can help maintain.  These are, increasing blood flow and preserving or restoring proper range of motion.  Kinesiology tape is designed to offer support and stabilize an injured region of the body without limiting blood flow or range of motion.


How is a kinesiology tape applied?

Kinesiology tape is applied over and around muscles, ligaments, tendons and other fibrous tissue.  Depending on the method or direction of application, kinesiology tape benefits by providing proprioception that signals muscles for facilitation or inhibition.  Kinesiology tape mechanically supports joints such as the shoulder or wrist by approximating connective tissues to relieve stress and/or can activate the cell layer-thick lymph system to move fluid.  In addition to direction while taping and region specificity, the main difference in application involves the amount of stretch applied to the tape by the physician.  Very simply, the stretching of the tape, whether it is the amount or direction, significantly impacts the desired taping effect.


What conditions can be treated effectively with Kinesiology tape?

The following areas are addressed through various taping procedures:

  • Mechanical Correction
  • Fascia (Fascial) Correction
  • Space Correction
  • Ligament/Tendon Correction
  • Functional Correction
  • Circulatory/Lymphatic Correction


Kinesiology tape can assist in the treatment goals for many conditions that patients suffer from including the following:


TMJ Dysfunction
Headaches (tension)
Shoulder Impingement/Subluxation
Rotator Cuff Tear
Bicipital Tendonitis
Tennis/Golfers Elbow
Compartment Syndrome
Trigger Finger
Forward Shoulder
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Shin Splits
Foot Drop
Herniated Disk
De Quervains
Low Back Sprain/Strain
Sacroiliac Sprain/Strain
Piriformis Syndrome
Quadriceps Strain
Toe Cramps
Sprained Ankle
Meniscus Tear (minor)
Osteoarthritis of Knee
Calf Cramps
Plantar Fasciitis
Post Operative/Traumatic Edema
Hamstring Strain
Bells Palsy
Headaches (Migraine)
Tinnitus (SCM cause)
Frozen Shoulder
Pregnancy Related Lower Back Pain



What are the contraindications for using kinesiology tape?

While most kinesiology tape brands are very safe for the majority of patients, careful monitoring of any treatment is important to ensure positive clinical outcomes.  Kinesiology taping is deferred when the patient’s skin is fragile or in the early stages of healing, when the skin has been treated with radiation therapy or if there has been an allergic reaction experienced in the past to the adhesive of the tape.  As well, kinesiology tape should not be applied over an open wound or in the area of cellulitis, infection or near known cancer regions.  Kinesiology tape should also not be applied in an area where there may be a blood clot.