When American figure skater Mirai Nagasu landed a triple axle at the winter olympics in Pyeongchang – helping to secure a bronze medal for Team USA – viewers across the globe wondered about the rectangle shape on her leg that looked like a tattoo. It wasn’t a tattoo – it was kinesiology tape, an extremely high quality elastic athletic tape used for support and stability.
Both summer and winter olympic athletes, as well as athletes in other sports, use kinesio tape. While athletes use kinesio tape to support their joints and muscles during sport activities, your chiropractor will use kinesio tape to relieve pain, decrease swelling and stabilize your injured joints during the healing process.
KT Tape and Chiropractic Care
Kinesio tape was developed in the 1970s by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase for his chiropractic patients. It’s become popular as an effective non-drug treatment for joint inflammation, pain relief and support for injured muscles. Kinesio tape generally is used six basic ways in chiropractic care:
- Mechanical Support: improve joint stability and body biomechanics.
- Muscle Lining Movement: decrease swelling and ease and control the movement of muscle lining, called fascia.
- Spacing: decrease pressure over a target tissue.
- Ligament and Tendon Relief: relieve pain and decrease stress on a ligament or tendon.
- Functional Improvement: enhance sensory stimulation to assist or limit a motion.
- Lymphatic Circulation: move lymphatic fluids from one area to another.
It is used to treat common issues, including:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Lower back pain
- Knee conditions
- Shoulder conditions
- Hamstring injury
- Groin injury
- Rotator cuff injury
- Tennis elbow
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ankle sprain
- To change muscle tone
- To move lymphatic fluids
- To correct movement patterns
- To improve posture
- To reduce scars
What is KT Tape?
Kinesio tape is an elastic athletic tape of extremely high quality. It is designed to remain
in place during strenuous exercise – without irritating the skin – for an extended period of time, usually three to four days. It is latex free and FDA approved. Kinesio tape has an elasticity that matches the same basic elasticity found in your skin and muscles, so it works with your body as you go about your daily activities. It provides support and stability with full range of motion without peeling off or leaving any residue.
How Does KT Tape Work?
Kinesio taping is a technique based on the body’s own natural healing process. It affects the neurological and circulatory systems of the body. Muscles control not just movement but also circulation of blood, lymph flows, body temperature and more. The failure of muscles to function properly can create a wide variety of symptoms. That’s where kinesio taping comes in. It treats muscles to activate the body’s own healing process.
Muscles constantly extend and contract. Sometimes they extend and contract beyond their normal range of motion. When this happens, muscles become inflamed. Inflamed muscles become stiff and swollen. The space between the skin and the muscle is compressed, resulting in restriction to the lymph flow. This compression also applies pressure to the pain receptors beneath the skin, causing you to feel pain. When you have pain, you don’t use the area correctly and when the lymph flow is compromised, healing doesn’t happen as effectively. Using kinesio tape helps solve these problems.
Kinesio tape also affects the muscle lining, called fascia. Fascia and lymph are closely connected. Fascia divides and separates the muscles and internal organs. Lymph removes fluids and chemical substances in the muscles. Lymph channels pass through fascia between the bone and the muscle and between the skin and the muscle. When the flow of lymph is disturbed, fluid accumulates, resulting in swelling. This decreases the space between the muscle and skin, causing the body to react.
Kinesio tape pulls the upper layers of skin, creating more space between the skin and the muscle, relieving the pressure on the lymph channels as well as on the pain receptors. This allows the body to work in a more normal way, removing roadblocks to the healing process.
Dilated blood and lymph vessels: blood and lymph flow normally
Uncompressed pain receptors: pain is relieved
Kinesio tape also affects deeper tissues in the body. The increased space that allows lymphatic movement and decreases pain also allows muscles more room to contract, and this results in better muscle performance. This also helps reduce muscle fatigue and increase range of motion.
Whether you are interested in kinesio tape to improve athletic performance or heal an injury, talk to you chiropractor to find out if this technique might be right for you.
Learn more about the medical science behind chiropractic treatments.