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by Erin Looney, DPT

With the Olympics fast approaching, I thought it might be appropriate to touch upon the topic of taping.  Not white, beige or brown tape, but that funky colored (ultra-cool of course) black, blue, and pink tape!  Several years back I remember watching beach volleyball where a couple of the players had this black tape strangely stuck all over their shoulders.  It definitely sparked my interest as to why they were wearing it and what it did.  I grew up playing sports most of my life where I had seen and experienced plenty of athletic tape, but never anything like this.  What was that tape?

Flash forward a few years.  It turns out they were wearing kinesiotape.  This tape is not restrictive like most athletic tape, but instead it is supportive.  It allows the body/joints to go through its normal range of motion and can be worn for 3-5 days (yes, of course you can still shower)!  It’s great in that it can be successfully integrated into the treatment of a variety of conditions:

  • Muscle Imbalance
  • Postural Insufficiency
  • Circulatory conditions
  • Ligament, tendon, and joint injuries
  • Fascial adhesions and scars
  • Altered movement patterns

So how does it work? Well, it works on 5 major systems in the body – skin, fascia, circulatory/lymphatic systems, muscle, and joint. At first it seemed like “magic tape” that you could just stick over that troubled spot and poof it would be better.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite that amazing!  Depending on how and exactly where the tape is applied it can:

  • Inhibit muscle activation – for those muscles that are working too hard or compensating for other muscles that aren’t working as they should.
  • Facilitate muscle activation – help kick start those weaker muscles
  • Correction/support of injured tissue – space corrections, mechanical corrections, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and more!

It can be easily incorporated into a patient’s rehabilitation and also be worn when returning to sport.

I have found it to be a great addition to my practice.  I use it frequently to help extend the effects for some of the hands-on treatment I perform on my patients.  I have found that it has worked well in combination with Graston, myofascial work, and cupping techniques performed in the clinic.  Could it work for you?

Stay tuned for future postings on kinesiotape for more specific injuries.

Dr. Looney is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine