If you’re having trouble moving around during your everyday activities or a sports injury has slowed your athletic prowess, the answer may be something as simple as tape.
Kinesiology tape can make a huge difference both in the way you feel and the way your body works.
In this article, I’m going to explain what kinesiology tape is, how it’s used, what to look for in it and give you a brief history lesson on it.
Then, I’ll tell you about the 10 best kinesiology tapes of 2017 to help you make the right choice for your needs.
- What Is Kinesiology Tape For?
- How Do I Use Kinesiology Tape?
- A Brief History of Kinesiology Tape
- What to Look for in Kinesiology Tape
- RockTape Kinesiology Tape for Athletes
- Physix Gear Sport Kinesiology Tape
- KT TAPE PRO Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape
- Kinesio Kinesiology Tex Gold Tape.
- Master of Muscle Beast Tape
- Spartan Tape
- Kinesiology Tape by Anuva Products
- Kinesiology Tape by 321 Strong
- Kinesiology Tape by AZSport
What Is Kinesiology Tape For?
Kinesiology tape is used to help damaged muscles, tissues and joints repair while allowing athletes to continue physical activities.
Common uses are for shoulder stability, ankle support, sore knees and many other issues.
Now, it’s important to understand that the tape doesn’t do this all by itself. It’s also using the Kinesio taping method. If you use this specialized tape without understanding how you need to put it on the skin, it will be useless.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do. I’m going to talk about it and even provide a video in the next section. Many of the tapes I’m going to highlight later even come with their own manuals.
In any case, the combination of this tape and the proper method of using it is designed to do two things:
- First, provide support and stability to the muscles and joints
- Second, allow the body’s natural healing process to run its course
Once applied, the tape pulls up on the skin, creating space between it and the inflamed or otherwise injured area below. By doing this, lymphatic fluid and fresh blood are able to flow through the tissue in question.
Lymphatic fluid contains infection-fighting white blood cells, making it very important for helping your tissue recover.
Therefore, while traditional forms of tape seek to immobilize the area to keep further injury from occurring, kinesiology tape actually pulls away from it. In doing so, it not only lets the tissue to recover but allows for the full range of motion, too. This is why athletes love using it: they can continue playing and get better faster.
How Do I Use Kinesiology Tape?
For the most part, you can apply kinesiology tape as you would traditional tape to any other surface.
The big thing to remember, though, is that your skin has to be nice and tight when this happens. You may need to put the area into a slightly awkward position in order to get the skin as tight as possible.
This way, the tape will keep it nice and tight when you go back to your normal posture, elevating the skin and allowing the increased blood circulation you’re looking for.
You can also use multiple pieces. The initial strip should go over the area in pain. Then, you can run other strips perpendicular to it that will help pull the skin up further.
When you have the tape in place, make sure you heat activate it by rubbing the surface. You can use the discarded backside of the tape for this.
Most times, kinesiology tape strips should be good for at least three days before they should be removed. Check the package of the brand you use to make sure.
A Brief History of Kinesiology Tape
Before I jump into the 10 best kinesiology tapes of 2017, let’s briefly discuss the history of this miraculous product. It may seem like it showed up out of nowhere, but it was actually invented back more than 35 years ago.
The inventor’s name is Dr. Kenzo Kase. He began looking for a better way to treat athletes who had traumatized tissues and muscles.
Back then, the conventional approach involved athletic tape. While this method definitely provided the athlete with extra support, it also:
- Didn’t support the fascia
- Reduced range of motion
- Inhibited the healing process in many cases
It was clear to Dr. Kase that a better option was needed.
He began looking for a way to aid healing and support the joints and muscles without restricting the athlete’s range of motion. On top of that, he believed it was possible to do this while assisting the lymphatic system.
After two years of working on this goal, Dr. Kase found success with Kinesio Tex tape and the method he invented for using it.
Still, it wouldn’t be until the 1988 Seoul Olympics that kinesiology tape would see worldwide exposure.
Even after that, Dr. Kase started the International Kinesio Taping Association International. The KTAI exists for two reasons:
- To support clinical research
- To bring together the latest research in order to train healthcare professionals
Though it had already become popular with many athletes all over the world, the London Olympics of 2012 was a tipping point that brought kinesiology tape into the mainstream.
What to Look for in Kinesiology Tape
In a moment, I’m going to cover the 10 best kinesiology tapes of 2017 and you’ll receive all the important details you need about each brand to make your decision.
That being said, it will still be very helpful to have some context about what matters where this type of tape is concerned.
Keep the following in mind when you’re making a decision about kinesiology tape.
- Stretch – As I covered earlier, this tape needs to stretch for it to do its job. If you just tape over an injured area, nothing positive is going to happen. In fact, you’ll probably do more harm than good.
Not all the tape on this list stretches to the same degree, though. For lighter injuries and aches, you won’t need as much stretch. If you have deeper or more severe pains, you’ll want more.
Unfortunately, knowing exactly how much stretch you need is something you can really only learn from experience. All of the options below should provide you with some amount of pain relief, but you may order a different degree of stretch the second time around because you need more or less of it.
- Price – The difference between the most expensive and cheapest kinesiology tapes below is about $15. It’s not a huge amount, but it also depends on how often you’ll be using this product.
If you have a freak injury that you expect will heal in the near future, price probably doesn’t need to be an issue in your decision.
On the other hand, if you’re using kinesiology tape to help with arthritis or some nagging pain you’ve always had, there will probably be big savings in looking at the more affordable versions.
This also goes for you medical professionals. Kinesiology tape is fantastic for helping patients in pain, but if you’re not passing the cost along, you need to think about the price involved.
- Waterproof or Water-Resistant? – Unless you’re just wearing kinesiology tape to address pain related to everyday activities, you want it to be water-resistant. This will keep it from buckling because it’s exposed to your sweat. You also won’t have to worry about showering or bathing.
Now, if you play water sports on a regular basis, you’re going to need a tape that is waterproof. Some water-resistant tapes have been reported to stay on despite being completely submerged for prolonged periods of time. Nonetheless, my recommendation is to go with waterproof varieties for things like swimming.
- Precut/Uncut – Kinesiology tape comes precut or uncut. The latter means you get one roll of tape and will have to use scissors to decide where you want the cut to be. This is the more preferred option because it will let you address as much or as little space on your body as you want. The injured section of your body might only be five inches long, for example. It’d be a waste to use a 10-inch strip simply because you have to. If you plan to use this tape continuously, precut versions will tax your budget much more.
The precut versions have their fans, though. They’re mostly for people who want them on hand just in case. During an athletic competition, they don’t want to have to sit down with scissors and cut the piece out. They just want to slap one on ASAP and keep playing.
- Ingredients –If you’re allergic to anything (e.g. latex, zinc, etc.), be sure you check the ingredients or you’re going to be in a lot of discomfort once the tape is gripping your skin.
- Duration – Kinesiology tape should stay in place for at least three days. Some can last much longer. If you need to wear the tape regularly, you’ll want one that can stick for as long as possible. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep spending money on renewing your dressings.
Now that you better understand the history that led to Kinesiology tape’s popularity, how it works, what to look for and how to apply it, let’s look at the 10 best options available in 2017.
The 10 Best Kinesiology Tapes of 2017
The following are the top 10 Kinesiology tapes on the market in 2017. Links have been included for each to Amazon if you’d like to make a purchase.
RockTape Kinesiology Tape for Athletes
- Ultra-Strong and Stick
- Hypoallergenic Adhesive
- Water & Sweat Resistant
- 97% Cotton, 3% Nylon
- 2-Inch x 16.4-Feet
- 180% Stretch for Full Range of Motion
- Latex and Zinc Free
Our first entry makes the list for being able to alter the pain signals being sent by the nerve endings and receptors within your skin. By suppressing this message to your brain, it is able to “turn down the volume on pain.” Aside from the reduction in pain that provides, RockTape also delays fatigue, allowing you longer durations of athletic performance.
The tape was also designed to help with non-athletic discomfort. This can include “text neck” and other issues that stem from bad posture.
Low-quality kinesiology tape suffers from a lack of stickiness. This is not a problem with RockTape. It boasts the strongest amount of stickiness in the industry, making it ideal for injured areas that may otherwise be hard to tape.
This stickiness also causes less irritation, so if you’ve had issues with this in the past, give RockTape a try.
Thanks to a combination of synthetic fibers and natural cotton, RockTape can stretch 180% more than the competition. You’ll need less tape for your injured areas, but you’ll also be able to pull the skin back further and enjoy greater mobility.
More than 45,000 medical professionals around the world have made RockTape their kinesiology tape of choice. This list includes:
- Massage Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Orthopedic Surgeons
- Physical Therapists
It’s trusted by organizations like Reebok, USA Diving, US Speedskating, USA Water Polo and Major League Baseball.
RockTape comes with a 100% money-back guarantee so there’s no risk in giving this option a try.
Physix Gear Sport Kinesiology Tape (2″ x 16.5′ Pro)
- Waterproof adhesive formula
- Hypertonic stimulator technology
- Lymphatic drainage
- Designed for people of all ages, including pregnant women
- eBook included
- FDA and CE approved
Physix Gear gives you 16.5 feet worth of kinesiology tape and you get two of these roles with your purchase. An 82-page eBook is also included, which you’ll be able to download upon purchase. The book provides many taping techniques for beginners to advanced users that work for all kinds of injuries.
If you’ve used kinesiology tape in the past and were frustrated because it kept peeling, this version by Physix Gear is worth considering. It was designed specifically to resist peeling, even when used in water.
People report that it can easily stay in place for up to three days, yet won’t hurt when you’re peeling it off.
As much as it’s designed for health purposes, there is no denying that kinesiology tape has become a bit of a fashion statement on the court and field, too. If that’s a priority for you, Physix Gear offers 16 different colors to choose from.
Lastly, this option has proven very popular for women who are pregnant. If you’re feeling discomfort around your abdomen, this tape can be used to take some of the pressure off your more sensitive areas.
KT TAPE PRO Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape
- Reinforced 100% Synthetic Fibers
- Expanded elastic core
- Ultra-light, durable and extra-strong
- 20 Pre-cut 10-inch
KT TAPE PRO Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape can boast that it was made available to consumers before any other version. This 30+ year track record certainly speaks to its quality and reputation.
One great reason to go with KT TAPE PRO Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape is that it comes precut. It’s not that cutting your own tape is especially challenging, but as I mentioned before, you probably don’t want to deal with scissors and eyeballing it when you’re in the heat of the moment. During competition, you could need to quickly run to the sidelines to apply a strip. Having a 10-inch strip waiting for you is ideal.
Another unique feature about KT TAPE PRO Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape is that it’s made with reflective print. This makes it safer to use in low-light conditions and during road training. At the same time, it’s not flashy enough that it’s going to become a distraction for others or draw unwanted attention.
Though anyone can use this kinesiology therapeutic tape, it was designed for high-performance athletes, so if you ask a lot from your body and need an option that can keep up, this one won’t let you down.
A lot of people appreciate that every order comes with a protective case. It’s not necessarily a reason to buy this tape all on its own, but it certainly helps to have. Otherwise, it’s easy for the roll to become undone in your bag or for the protective strip to come off, ruining the exposed section.
This is another option that comes in multiple colors and designs. There are 20 in total to choose from.
- Kinesio Kinesiology Tex Gold Tape
- Nano-touch epidermis stimulation
- Micro-grip adhesive for better grip and hold w/less surface area
- High-grade breathable cotton
- Hypoallergenic and latex free
Kinesio has been producing kinesiology tapes since 1981. Since that time, the company has created many versions of their famous product. This current version is made with FP (fingerprint) technology. The company uses it to mimic the original “fingerprint” concept created by Dr. Kase.
This is an important distinction. The fingerprint design is meant to pull on the layers of skin far below the epidermis. By doing so, the underlying fascia is also brought away from the source of the injury.
On the other side of the tape, the higher-grade cotton used is meant to increase the overall breathability of this tape. Not only will you not feel any irritation after it’s applied, but that feature should also help you enjoy improved mobility and hardly even know the tape is there. The new weave process used for this tape was invented with your comfort in mind, too.
It’s this additional feature that has made Kinesio Kinesiology Tex Gold Tape such a popular option amongst professionals who regularly deal with more complicated issues. While you can still use it for straightforward problems like pulled muscles, if you’ve tried in the past with other tapes and found your results lacking, this is probably the best choice for your needs.
- Master of Muscle Beast Tape
This is the second tape on our list that comes with a free eBook to help you better understand how to apply it to address your specific injury.
Master of Muscle Beast Tape has developed a reputation for its stretch and durability. It’s a great choice for those who are going to play fast-paced sports that may otherwise force other tapes to let go.
When applied correctly, Beast Tape can stay in place for three days straight without becoming uncomfortable. Thanks to its waterproof design, you can jump in the pool or sweat buckets without any problems.
If you’re on the fence, one nice thing about Master of Muscle Beast tape is that they’ll not only refund your money but send you a free roll, too.
- Spartan Tape
Your order of Spartan Tape will come with an actual booklet that shows you how to properly apply it to your body. 15 different taping scenarios are covered. This includes helping with common problems like lymphedema.
The combination of a hypoallergenic adhesive and natural cotton gives Spartan Tape its signature second-skin feel. This material can stretch by 50% to 80%, which gives you some choice over how much pull you want to place on your skin. Sometimes, less is better. Light tendonitis, for example, may only require that the tape be stretched to 50%.
Once applied, this tape should last for five days. This includes through showers and/or water sports.
This product has found a home with numerous PTs, ATs, MDs, chiropractors and surgeons from all over the world.
- Kinesiology Tape by Anuva Products
- 4 feet
- Hypertonic stimulator technology
- Designed for lymphatic drainage
- Fingerprint adhesive pattern
As with the Kinesio Kinesiology Tex Gold Tape I highlighted earlier, this version from Anuva Products uses a fingerprint pattern. This allows the tape to pull the skin from several layers below the epidermis.
When you combine that with a roughly 95% rate of stretch, this tape is extremely versatile and can definitely provide a lot of pull on the skin. If you’ve tried other kinesiology tapes in the past and still felt discomfort or pain, you might want to check what happens when you have a lot more stretch to work with.
Each application should last you two to three days.
Anuva offers a downloadable eBook to make sure its customers properly apply this tape to their injuries.
- 2″ X 16.4′
- 2 rolls per order
- Elasticity up to 180%
- Latex and Zinc free
- ISO 13485 Quality Certified and FDA approved
PrimeTape boasts the longest lasting option on our list. It can stay in place for up to eight days. Although it’s not waterproof, it is water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about sweating too much or not being able to shower during those eight days.
Being able to wear it for that long could really save you a lot of money, too. If you’re someone who’s working out often and needs tape to do it, you could cut your consumption considerably by using PrimeTape.
Another interesting feature about PrimeTape is its ability to stretch by as much as 180%. As I’ve covered with other options on this list, the greater stretching capacity could be unnecessary for many of you. On the other hand, if you’ve only ever used tape with limited stretch, you may be surprised to see what happens when you’re able to cover a greater surface area.
- Kinesiology Tape by 321 Strong
321 also offers a lot of stretch with their kinesiology tape. 160% is a lot. However, you have to keep in mind this is pre-cut tape. While this has its advantages (again, you won’t need to fumble around with scissors during an athletic competition), it also means that it’s going to cover a set amount of surface area on your body.
You’ll get 20 of these precut tape sections with your order. Each one should last you three to four days. As the material is both sweat- and water-resistant, you can partake in normal athletic activities, though full-on swimming may prove to be too much.
The company offers a 100% lifetime warranty and satisfaction guarantee with this tape. They also provide customers with an eBook to help them make the most use of it.
- Kinesiology Tape by AZSport
One of the most common comments in reviews about this kinesiology tape from AZSport is that it’s a bit stickier and the material itself is a bit denser than other popular versions.
This probably helps explain why it lasts four to five days. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like it’s too difficult to remove when it’s time to do so.
However, the denser material may be a drawback for some. If you really don’t want to feel the tape while you’re working out, one of the above options might be a better choice.
Using kinesiology tape can change your life. Whether it’s because you’re having a hard time getting around like you used to or you’ve recently suffered an injury playing sports, this tape is a deceptively simple and affordable method that could give you your mobility back.
I hope the above list has helped you better understand your top 10 options. Nonetheless, I would recommend you keep an open mind, even if you find a great tape on your first try. There are enough differences among brands that you might be happy with one only to find out that another is even better.