How kinesiology tape is used in physiotherapy

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If you have suffered an injury or illness that causes a problem with functional mobility or normal activity, you may benefit from the qualified services of a physiotherapist to help you regain your previous level of mobility. Your physical therapist can use a variety of exercises and modalities to help you address your specific problem.

Kinesiological taping is a specific mode of treatment that your physiotherapist can use. This involves placing strips of special tape over your body in specific directions to help improve your mobility and support your joints, muscles and tendons.

Kinesiology tape was developed in the 1970s by a chiropractor named Dr. Kenso Kase, DC. He discovered that using a flexible tape that exploited the interface between skin and muscle could provide lasting effects for his patients. He developed many of the techniques used in kinesiology today, and he also has his own brand of tape called Kinesiotape.

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Is kinesiology tape just fancy athletic tape?

Although kinesiology tape looks a lot like a sophisticated form of athletic tape, there are many differences between the two. Athletic tape is used for support and to limit movement, and kinesiology tape is used to facilitate movement and inhibit pain and spasms. Kinesiology tape is a flexible material that moves as you move; athletic tape is relatively stiff. The kinesiology tape helps improve lymph transport and increase circulation. The constricting nature of athletic tape serves to decrease circulation.

What he does

Kinesiology tape performs different functions when applied. Your physical therapist will perform an assessment and evaluation to determine the best use of kinesiology tape for your condition. He or she will assess whether the tape is even necessary for you or if there are any contraindications to using the tape.

There are different theories about how kinesiology tape works. First, it is thought to alter the proprioceptive input of the sensory nervous system into muscles, joints, and skin.The tape is believed to improve the interaction between the skin and underlying structures to help reset the circuitry in this part of the nervous system, which improves muscle activation and performance.

Kinesiology tape is also believed to inhibit nociceptors, or pain pathways, in your muscles, skin, and joint structures.Decreasing pain input to the brain is thought to normalize muscle tone, leading to less pain and muscle spasms.

In general, kinesiology tape is believed to help create balance in the neural circuitry of muscles, tendons, joints, and skin. It is believed to work to reduce pain, decrease swelling, and improve muscle performance and function.

It is also believed that kinesiology tape realigns joint positions and can also be helpful in reshaping collagen tissue, such as in the management of scar tissue.

Types and brands

There are more than 50 types and brands of kinesiology tape on the market today, such as Kinesiotape, KT Tape or RockTape. Some specific bands are designed for athletic performance, and others are designed for managing lymphedema and swelling.

Your physical therapist can help you decide which band is best for your specific condition.

Specific uses

There are many different uses for kinesiology tape. Your physical therapist can assess your current situation and your injury to decide on the best use of the band. He or she can also teach you how to cut the basic types of bands to use for your condition. Some common uses of kinesiology tape include:

  • Facilitation: Kinesiology tape can be used to help improve muscle shooting and contraction patterns.This can lead to normalized muscle tone and can also help improve athletic performance.
  • Inhibition and management of pain: Kinesiology tape can be used to help reduce pain and muscle spasms that can occur after an injury.It can help decrease nociceptive input to the brain, which can help decrease muscle protection and protective spasms.
  • Support and stability: If you have a condition that requires a specific joint to be held in place, kinesiology taping may be right for you.Conditions such as Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome, Iliotibial Band Chafing Syndrome, or Shoulder Instability may benefit from the additional support provided by Kinesiology Tape. The tape can support your joint while allowing some movement.
  • Swelling management: If you have suffered an injury or undergone surgery resulting in increased swelling, kinesiology tape can help reduce swelling by decreasing the pressure between the skin and the underlying tissues. This provides a pathway for excess fluids that have accumulated from your injury. Kinesiology tape is sometimes used in the management of lymphedema or for superficial bruising.
  • Scar tissue management: After surgery or trauma, you may have a scar on the injured area. Sometimes the tissue under the scar binds to your skin and underlying fascia. This scar tissue can limit your normal mobility and range of motion. Kinesiology tape can be used to gently pull scar tissue, providing a low intensity, long lasting stretch to the tight collagen that makes up scar tissue.

Does kinesiology tape really work?

Since kinesiology taping is a relatively new and innovative concept in the field of physical therapy, a lot of research still needs to be done to understand how the taping works and if it truly lives up to its claims.

Recent studies have shown that using kinesiology tapes can improve muscle contractions in the vastus medialis, a specific part of the quadriceps muscle responsible for controlling the position of your kneecap.

One study demonstrated improved range of motion in the lower back immediately after applying kinesiology tape.Another study showed short-term improvements in neck pain and cervical motion in patients with whiplash who used kinesiology tapes.

To support the use of kinesiology tape to improve athletic performance, RockTape conducted a study on 5 cyclists and found that they performed 2-6% better with the application of kinesiology tape (specifically RockTape) compared to no tape.Of course, the study is fraught with bias, as it was sponsored by RockTape, included only 5 athletes, and there was no control group.

Other studies have looked at the effect of kinesiology tape on pain, swelling, and improved mobility with varying results.

The bottom line: The jury is still out on the kinesiology tape, and more work needs to be done.

A word from Verywell

If you have an injury that causes pain, swelling, loss of movement, or muscle spasms, your physical therapist may recommend that you use kinesiology tape to help treat your problem. He or she should teach you about the tape and help you set realistic goals and expectations for using kinesiology tape.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Does kinesiology tape work?

    Some studies show that tapping injured areas can help reduce pain, but it’s still unclear if the pain reduction is significant. There is no strong evidence that kinesiology tape improves performance in healthy athletes, as some have claimed.


  • Are there any downsides to using kinesiology tape?

    It is possible to cause blisters or tears in the skin if you tape an area too hard. If the tape is not applied in the correct direction and with the correct amount of stretch, it may not be effective. A professional should put the tape on.


  • Can you shower while wearing kinesiology tape?

    Yes. The tape should last three to five days on your skin, even in the shower.

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