BY HILLARY OBERPEUL
Find out how you can use kinesiology tape, no matter your level of athleticism. From students to Olympians, athletes everywhere have been seen sporting kinesiology tape. But is it something the everyday person or weekend warrior can use? Kinesiology tape is actually just as useful for you—and you don’t need to be an expert to apply it. Check out our tips for choosing the right tape and applying it with confidence.
Kinesiology tape is a stretchy, cotton fiber tape that’s latex free and often comes in bright, fun colors. It helps support your joints and muscles, and it temporarily reduces pain. This is thought to happen because of the gate control theory—where an outside stimulus (kinesiology tape) is attached to the skin, and the sensation created overrides the pain signals going into the brain. You may have heard that it can also reduce acute swelling or enhance your performance. However, there isn’t much research out there to prove whether or not kinesiology tape actually does those things. So remember to have realistic expectations for your tape job—it’s a helpful tool, but it won’t fix everything for you.
What to Look For
There are a ton of brands out there offering kinesiology tape, which can make choosing the right one a little confusing. Here’s what you want in your kinesiology tape:
- It stays put and doesn’t irritate your skin. The adhesion of a kinesiology tape is where its power comes from. Meant to last multiple days, this tape shouldn’t peel up or get loose before it’s supposed to. THERABAND® Kinesiology Tape has been proven to stick better than KT Tape and Kinesio tape over a five day period, meaning it allows you to reap the benefits of kinesiology tape for a longer period—without having to reapply. That said, make sure the adhesive is also allergy tested to prevent any skin reactions.
- It doesn’t restrict your range of motion. Kinesiology tape is meant to be used on people, and people move. The support it provides is only useful if it doesn’t cut off your circulation or impede your performance. Look for a tape that provides a good balance between support and restriction.
- It’s easy to use. This might be the most important point—if you’re not confident using the tape, will you actually try it? You want a kinesiology tape that shows you exactly how much tension you’re using, so you can apply it correctly (according to professional instructions) every time. THERABAND® Kinesiology Tape is the only kinesiology tape with XactStretch indicators to make your life easier. The visual hexagon stretch indicators right on the tape eliminate misapplication, even for beginners. Just stretch the small hexagon until it’s equal on all sides for 25% stretch. Do the same for the large hexagon if you need 50% stretch. It’s that easy! No guesswork, no intimidation, no wasted tape and no worries.
Applying Kinesiology Tape Correctly
You can use kinesiology tape for all sorts of support, such as achilles, ankle, knee, shoulder, neck and back issues. Check out our videos and how-to guides that show you some common taping tactics from expert healthcare professionals. No matter what type of taping technique you’re using, be sure that you remember to do the following:
- Break Break the paper backing about two inches from the end of the tape strip. Remove the two inches of paper backing, and discard it.
- Anchor Stick the two inch strip of tape with exposed adhesive to the skin, making sure that this “anchor” has 0% stretch. This anchor keeps your tape job secure, and allows the stretch in the rest of your tape job to work.
- Peel (Partially) Remove all but the last two inches of the paper backing from the remaining tape (you want another anchor at the far end of the strip).
- Stretch Pull the tape until the small hexagon is equal on all sides, indicating you’ve reached 25% stretch. For 50% stretch, pull until the large hexagon is equal on all sides.
- Apply Gently tap the stretched tape into place, starting from the anchor and working your way to the end of the tape (the final anchor).
- Smooth Remove the rest of the backing and stick the final anchor to the skin (remembering that anchors should have 0% stretch). Use the paper backing to smooth the full strip of kinesiology tape into the skin. This creates friction to activate the adhesive, so it adheres properly.
Armed with the right tape, our videos and a few of our helpful tips, you’ll be ready to apply kinesiology tape in no time. Here’s a short list to remind you of the basics:
- Prep the skin before you apply the tape. Wash the application area to remove dirt, oil, creams or lotions. Remove hair in the application area.
- Measure twice, cut once. Make sure that the tape is the proper length, then round the corners so they don’t catch on clothing (and peel away). But if measuring isn’t really your thing, try helpful precut strips!
- Remember to break the paper backing through the tape, keeping about two inches of paper on the end so you don’t touch the adhesive.
- Anchor your tape. Regardless of the specified stretch, always apply the last two inches of tape without stretch. This keeps your tape job anchored in place.
- Rub the tape to activate its adhesion. To make sure that your tape sticks like it’s supposed to, be sure you rub it into the skin after you’ve placed it. This allows the tape to properly adhere to your skin.
- Keep it dry. For at least 60 minutes, let the adhesive properly bond without exercise or showering.
- Take it off slowly. To avoid irritating your skin, press down on the bare skin closest to the tape being removed as you slowly pull the tape back.
So if you’ve been wanting to try out kinesiology tape in your life, but haven’t known where to start, now is your moment! You don’t have to worry about being new, since easy-to-apply THERABAND Kinesiology Tape takes the intimidation factor away. Click here to try out the XactStretch technology for yourself and see the difference.