What Is Kinesiotape And How Can It Help?

Why are all of these athletes walking around decorated in tape? Is it only for athletes or can it help me with my knee pain? Absolutely! Kinesiotape is appropriate for everyone from the weekend warrior athlete, to the gardener, to the teenager with text neck, and neighbor whom just had a hip replacement. 

What is it?  Kinesiotape is an elastic therapeutic tape developed by Dr. Kase in Japan in 1979. This particular brand is made of cotton and is latex free and hypoallergenic. At OMPT Specialists, we use a brand that is made of cotton, latex free and hypoallergenic. Be aware that there are several different brands out there and not all brands are latex free. Kinesiotape is a very light tape that feels like skin and can be worn up to 3-5 days. There is no medication in the tape.  

How does it work?  Kinesiotape lifts the skin, reduces pressure between the dermal layers, and increases the interstitial space which allows for improved movement of blood and lymph fluid through the treatment area. This can relieve pain, improve lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling, and provide a cooling effect to the tissues. By applying different cuts to the tape and utilizing various application techniques, kinesiotape can help to facilitate a weak muscle, inhibit an overactive muscle, provide support to a joint, or provide extended soft tissue manipulation after manual therapy. At OMPT Specialists, we have found great results with the combination of kinesiotape and our manual therapy approach.

How is it used?   In the rehab setting after a thorough evaluation of a patient, physical therapists often use the tape in conjunction with other treatments (manual therapy, postural training, therapeutic exercises) to achieve optimal outcomes. Kinesiotape can literally be applied from the tips of your toes to your nose! Foot, ankle, knee, hip, spine, shoulder, elbow, hand, and any muscle or tissue in between! At OMPT Specialists, we use kinesiotape in a variety of ways. For example, after an OMPT therapist performs specific manual therapy to reduce swelling around a knee joint post injury or surgery, kinesiotape is then applied to the knee in a fan shape to encourage continued lymph drainage between physical therapy treatments. Another way in which we often use kinesiotape at OMPT Specialists is to “quiet” an overactive muscle. For example, in a patient with a weak rotator cuff, the upper trapezius muscle typically compensates for some of the weakness and fires more than it should and often becomes tight and painful. After manual therapy techniques to facilitate proper engagement of the rotator cuff and to reduce tension in the upper trapezius, kinesiotape is then applied to the upper trap to inhibit excessive firing and to reduce muscle tension for extended relief between treatments. If you would like to learn more about how Kinesiotape can help you, please call today for a FREE consultation!

By Gina Gray, DPT, OMPT

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