Kinesiology tape is a tool that seems simple enough at first glance. You see athletes wearing it all the time and have probably heard that it can do anything from speed up healing to increase a joint’s range of motion.
In this article, we’re going to clear up these misconceptions by telling you exactly what kinesiology tape can and cannot do.
Probably the main reason people use kinesiology tape is because they’ve suffered a minor injury and don’t want to miss an athletic event because of the pain. Due to the way the tape pulls up on the skin, you’ll feel a lot less pain in the injured area when you go back to playing.
Many people bring kinesiology tape to their games for this very reason. It’s become very common to see an athlete take to the sidelines to be taped up quickly before returning to the game.
Helping Maintain Range of Motion
At the same time, another popular reason to reach for the tape is when a minor injury is threatening to impede your range of motion. Keep reading because later we’re going to talk about when this is something kinesiology tape can’t help with.
That being said, if you’ve, say, pinched a nerve in your shoulder and can no longer serve in tennis, tape can help take the pain away and restore that range of motion so you can finish out your match.
Provides Structural Support
Lost in the conversation about kinesiology tape is often the fact that it’s great for providing support. This is probably because it gets contrasted with traditional sports tape.
That version is solely for support. That’s literally all it can do. You tape up an area to provide pressure from all sides. If you’re having trouble using your injured wrist, sports tape can help give it the support it needs so you can call upon it in the game.
Kinesiology tape is up to the task, as well. It can be pulled to varying degrees of pressure, which is another reason it’s so good for range of motion. You don’t have to restrict it in order to provide the other benefits your body needs from kinesiology tape.
Helping with Rehabilitation
Whether you’re working back into normal activities after an injury or simply over-trained yourself, kinesiology tape can help open up your fascia tissue. This can assist with manual manipulation or be used afterward to give the muscles and ligaments the space they need to heal.
Assisting with Healing
Again, keep reading because this is another benefit that gets into a gray area.
If you suffer an injury that involves your tissue, you should go to a doctor to have it properly treated. Once that occurs, kinesiology tape is fantastic for facilitating healing. This goes back to its ability to pull up on the skin so lymphatic fluid and fresh blood can wash through the tissue and help it repair.
Kinesiology Tape Is Not for Reoccurring Injuries…
Kinesiology tape may be part of your doctor’s recommendation for rehabbing an injury, even a nagging one you keep incurring over and over again.
However, it should not be your go-to solution for this type of injury. You have to remember that pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. It’s trying to let you know about a problem and keep you from making it worse.
If every time this injury returns, you just keep taping it and “playing through the pain,” that injury is going to keep returning until it’s permanent.
Likewise, if you get a one-off injury but the pain is intense, tape is not going to be enough. You need to see a doctor immediately.
…or Joint and Bone Problems
Another misconception is that kinesiology tape should be applied to make up for the loss of movement suffered from a major bone or joint problem.
Kinesiology tape will definitely help support your joints and can even play an important role in allowing for range of motion when a joint is bothered, as we mentioned earlier.
That’s a world away from another misconception, though, which is that you can use the tape to essentially keep on playing despite a serious injury like a fracture or even a broken bone.
During rehabilitation – long after traditional treatments have been prescribed – kinesiology tape can be great. Again, it can also be helpful for a joint that’s simply been disturbed from a minor injury.
Trying to use the tape to make play possible when you’re facing a serious joint or bone problem is just foolish, though. You can expect that the injury will continue and even worsen until you receive proper medical attention.
To summarize these last two points: kinesiology tape should not be used as a treatment for improving function. It can help, but it is not the solution you need.
Now that you better understand what kinesiology tape can and cannot do, you should feel comfortable using it when appropriate.