Kinesiological taping in therapy and sports

The original method of Kinesio taping was invented by the Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase in the 1970s, but over time it has been further modified and is now well-known.
Kinesiological taping on the back

Kinesiology taping on the knee

The term "kinesiology" refers to the Greek "kinesis" for movement and "logia" for doctrine or science. The colourful, elastic patch strips are mainly used for therapeutic purposes, for example in performance sports or physiotherapy.

Therefore, it is mainly the physiotherapists, as well as doctors, sports therapists, osteopaths and naturopaths, who offer kinesiological taping after appropriate training. It can provide good services to prevent disorders and injuries as a result of heavy stress or sports – not only therapeutically, but also in prevention. In the context of rehabilitation it is also used to support the treatment measures.

Which symptoms can be treated with Kinesio taping?

The possibilities of using kinesiological taping are diverse.
Whether in the case of illnesses and injuries of the musculoskeletal system or tensions in the muscles – by taping, joints and ligaments can be assisted and stabilized and also muscular tensions can be relaxed and pain can be alleviated. Typical symptoms and injuries which are treated with taping are, for example, back pain, knee joint arthritis, sprains in the ankle joints or wrists, irritations in the area of the tendon insertions (for example, in the case of a tennis elbow or iliotibial band syndrome), ruptures of muscle fibers, neuropathies or muscular trigger points. There are also special lymph systems to alleviate swelling in the tissue (lymphedema). Kinesiological tape is also used in cases of haematomas, the treatment of scar tissue and special symptoms such as menstrual pain. It is usually combined with other physiotherapeutic measures and ideally complements them, because its effect can last in everyday life even after the therapy is finished.

How does kinesiological taping work?

The effect of kinesiologic taping is primarily based on the experiences of therapists and patients in practical application. From a scientific perspective, there are only few studies and no clear results so far. One mechanism of action is explained by the fact that the skin is slightly lifted by the tape, which positively affects the blood circulation, metabolic activities and the lymph flow and relieves pain as well as swelling and supports the healing process. In addition, the analgesic effect is also explained by the fact that due to the contact with the skin, the numerous receptors are addressed, which transmit mechanical stimuli more quickly and more strongly than pain signals – the pain is thus almost superimposed. Furthermore, the proprioception (depth sensibility) can be positively influenced by kinesiologic taping, because more information about the position and stress of the body parts is passed on to the brain due to the stimulation of the skin receptors. This leads to a better control and adjustment of the muscle tension as well as the joint function.

Kinesiologic tape therefore primarily unfolds its effect in connection with movement, which can be conducive to the healing process of many disorders. Kinesiological tapes thereby differ from conventional, inelastic sports tapes – the latter are mainly used for the stabilization, support and protection of stressed joints and injuries. With us you can get both the elastic MasterAid® Performance Tape and the inelastic SPORT TAPE®.

In addition to the physical effect, the colour effect allegedly has some significance, too. It is based on the Chinese colour theory and some therapists include it to their treatment. For example, red is supposed to have an activating and warming effect and to stimulate the metabolism, while blue is cooling and anti-inflammatory but also relaxing. Beige, on the other hand, is neutral and is suitable for a more subtle treatment, for example in the face.

How is kinesiological taping used?

Kinesiological tapes are very elastic and available in different colours. On the back of the adhesive strip, a skin-friendly acrylic adhesive is applied in wave form. The tapes consist of a cotton material, they are water resistant and air permeable. The application of kinesiological tapes is very simple and pleasant. There are, however, individual contraindications you should take into consideration when using the tape. These include a known allergy to acrylic, as well as open wounds and scars that have not yet been fully healed.

Likewise, the tape is not applied when the skin is very sensitive, thin and parchment-like due to skin diseases such as psoriasis and neurodermatitis or drug treatments. Pregnant women shouldn't use the taping in the area of the sacrum during the first three months of pregnancy. If you use blood thinning medications you should tell your doctor beforehand, as kinesiological tapes can cause internal bleeding due to the lifting of the skin.

With respect to the method, different application techniques can be distinguished in kinesiological taping. The muscle technique for regulating muscle tension is the most common practice. In order to specifically support joints and ligaments, the stabilizing ligament technique is used in which the tape is applied under increased to maximum tension. In the case of bad posture, corrective tape applications can provide stimuli for postural correction and reduce or avoid pathological load distribution. In addition, there are application techniques that are specifically used for the treatment of fascia. In such a case, the taping is supposed to positively influence function disturbances of fascia and thereby alleviate symptoms. In the concomitant treatment of lymphedema, the lymphatic technique is used to reduce water retention in the tissues.

In all techniques, the anatomical knowledge about muscles, ligaments and joints is crucial to properly apply the tape and achieve the best effect. Therefore, the taping should be carried out by trained therapists and doctors who, after a thorough examination, can decide which application technique shall be used and apply it in a professional manner. Usually, the tapes are very skin-friendly and well tolerated – if allergic reactions, such as persistent itching or reddening, should be noticed in individual cases, the tape should be removed. The durability can be up to one week, but depending on the type of skin and use.

Showering, bathing or visiting a sauna are no problem with the tape. However, when you dry yourself, the tape should be carefully dried by swabbing or blow-drying. The wearing time may be shorter at much stressed body areas, for example at the foot or in heavily sweating areas. As the tape starts to peel off, you should remove it carefully and slowly. When you are wet, for example, after showering, this is usually easier. Afterwards a new tape can be applied depending on the symptoms.

The total duration of treatment with kinesiological tapes depends on the individual symptoms of the patients and is not limited in time.

Complementary treatment with kinesiological tapes is an interesting treatment option, which is characterised by a simple and well-tolerated usage and a wide range of possible applications.