The Rio 2016 Olympics has only just begun but you may have already seen a number of athletes covered in brightly coloured tape. This stretchy type of tape is called Kinesiology Tape (K-Tape for short). The elastic tape is used to reduce muscle pain by supporting them without restricting movement (like rigid/sports tape does). K-Tape has become much more popular in recent years, especially after the 2012 London Olympics, and is now commonly used by physiotherapists for many types of aches and pains.
These bright strips of tape can be seen across shoulders, knees, backs and hips – but what does it do?
There are many theories that suggest how K-Tape may mechanically affect the way muscles contract or provide fascial unloading, however there is no solid research or evidence behind this. At most, it is understood that K-Tape may lessen the oscillations or vibrations that go through the muscles, which during vigorous exercise, would be beneficial for efficiency of contraction.
Having K-Tape stuck to your skin is also believed to stimulate the nerves, in particular, receptors within the skin called mechanoreceptors. These receptors can help to increase the feedback from muscles and improve movement awareness (something physiotherapists call ‘proprioception’). Improving proprioception has the potential to affect the way we move, which in turn can decrease pain and/or symptoms and enhance performance.
Although it can be very helpful with assisting recovery and even improving performance, K-Tape by itself, is neither a replacement for treatment nor a substitute for rehabilitation programs.
If you are interested in how K-Tape may be useful for you or in certain conditions or injuries, please feel free to get in contact with us, by either emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a comment below. Our expert physiotherapists commonly use K-Tape for all sorts of aches and pains and are more than happy to help you with any concerns!