What’s the Deal With Kinesio Tape?

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It’s the newest fashion statement of the athletic world: brightly-colored tape wrapped in eccentric patterns peeking through tank tops and shorts. But what’s the real deal with kinesiology tape?

As part of my injury rehab our physical therapist, Ashley Buffington, has taped my knee on multiple occasions, and I’ll use it to get me through a long weekend of riding with PDX Devo at the Sea Otter Classic. I asked Ashley and Kyle Nelson, the Head Athletic Trainer at Concordia University and Kinesio Taping Association instructor, for the run down on the tape.


This is different from white athletic tape; how does this tape work?

AB: The white athletic taping is designed to prevent motion in an area–think rolling your ankle on the soccer field. Kinesio Tape provides feedback to your body to help the body protect that area by providing specific stability to muscles and ligaments.  

KN: [With Kinesio Tape], depending on the direction the tape is applied and with what tension, we can change stimulus to the sensory receptors in the skin and subsequently change a motor response. Kinesio Tape is designed to be non-restrictive and open the body’s pathways for normal function.  Kinesio Tape will not stop a patient from moving into a pathological position, but is designed to provide feedback to the body so it can correct itself prior to that position.


kinesio tape used at Upper Echelon Fitness in physical therapyKinesio Tape is a brand name, like Band Aid or Kleenex, of elastic therapeutic tape also called kinesiology tape. Are all tapes created equal?

AB:  No. Absolutely not. Different brands use different adhesives and you get what you pay for.  .

KN: I would agree, but I am biased. Kinesio Tape was the original therapeutic elastic tape. It was developed and invented in the late 1970’s in Tokyo and was introduced to the United States in 1995. Subsequent tapes have come out on the market but, in my opinion, none of them match the quality of Kinesio Tape and few have as strong of an educational program as the Kinesio Taping Association.


Speaking of education, is this something you can do yourself, or strictly to be applied by a professional? Can you cause damage with improperly applied tape?

AB: You’re probably not going to get the intended effects unless you learn how to apply it from your physical therapist.

KN: If a practitioner is not familiar with proper application methods or is not really clear on what they are trying to accomplish with the tape, harmful or negative effects can occur. Many of the therapeutic elastic tapes on the market do not have a specific application method, so I caution potential users to make sure to learn proper application techniques.


What’s with the colors? Can I match my shoes, or are the colors significant?

KN: In regards to Kinesio Tape, the original color was tan. The red (pink) and blue are based in color therapy. Preliminary studies show that the red absorbs light rays and possibly causes an increase in tissue temperature by approximately 1-2 degrees. The blue reflects light rays resulting in a possible decrease in tissue temperature. Black was introduced for the more active population as the heat-activated adhesive sticks more favorably when exposed to sunlight. White was introduced in this past year to accommodate a more clean and sterile look for use in hospitals and other medical facilities.

Kinesiology tape: more than just looks. Think your injury could benefit from taping? Schedule a physical therapy consult and get back on the road to your goals. 


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