The Rio Olympics are here and you will surely see plenty of athletes with tape on their bodies. What you may not know is that’s not just regular tape, it’s Kinesiology tape. Not only do Olympic athletes wear Kinesiology tape, but athletes of all kinds benefit from using KT tape. You may even see people at your gym who are strength training and wearing Kinesiology tape!
KT Tape is a company that makes Kinesiology tape for athletes of all types, from the CrossFit gym all the way to the Olympic stadium. Personally, I use it because when I wear it on my foot (where I recently damaged the ligaments and tendons, and was on crutches for six weeks), my foot doesn’t hurt! I find it hard to explain when KT Tape is when people ask me about it, because in my head it works like magic. Tape is on, I feel great. Tape is off, my foot throbs and swells.
What is KT Tape?
Kinesiology tape isn’t a new product. In fact it’s been around for years. In the 1970’s chiropractor Kenzo Kase developed kinesiology tape. The goal of Kinesiology tape in the ‘70’s was to help Kase’s clients have something to use between appointments.
KT Tape is a preventative measure that athletes of all kinds can use for injuries. The goal of KT Tape is to help ensure that injuries don’t happen while out on the field, in the gym, or just jogging down the street. Things like shin splints, ITBS, knee pain, and more can be prevented by just applying KT Tape in the right spots before you start your workout. You will even find that KT Tape can relieve pain from injuries and help shorten recovery time.
How KT Tape Works
KT Tape is made up of cotton fibers with polymer elastic strands to allow for a broad range of motion. The best way to think about KT Tape is like adding an extra layer of muscle to any particular area of the body.
This additional layer provides enough support to aid athletes who are injured or to prevent injury from happening. The tape achieves this by lifting the skin from the muscle as much as possible. The new space created by the tape allows for natural movements and takes some pressure off of the muscle. The lack of pressure allows swelling to go down and allows for optimum blood flow.
Which Type of KT Tape Should I Use?
KT Tape comes in Original and Pro. The Original KT Tape is made from cotton and lasts 1-3 days. The KT Pro tape is made from synthetic materials and lasts 4-7 days, even through showers! After using KT Tape on my foot for about 6 weeks now, I should mention that these times do not quite work the same with feet.
I’ve only used Pro, and it lasts 2-4 days depending on the technique I use to wrap it. I’m guessing this has to do with a few things–the tape doesn’t always lie flat around your ankle, so that allows water and sweat to build up. Also, putting socks on and taking them off tends to make the tape roll a little around the edges, causing it to not last as long.
How to Use KT Tape
Proper application is everything when it comes to using KT Tape. The tape must be applied in the right places for specific injuries or pain points. Occasionally, you will need help from someone else to implement the tape in the right spots.
If you’re just starting out, it may be a good idea to get advice from a trained professional. The folks at KT Tape have a great series of videos that tells you exactly where to put the tape and how to apply it, depending on your injury. Perhaps the most important part of using KT Tape is knowing that you shouldn’t just take some tape and stick it to the pain point.
Once you know where to place the tape to help with your pain or training, you might need to cut the tape. Some rolls come pre-cut and some don’t. Every muscle group will require a different cut, so be sure to watch the appropriate video ahead of time.
Two pieces of advice from Kase himself can help you with your taping needs:
1. If muscles are injured or overused and just need a bit of relief from pain or tightness, apply the tape with no tension.
2. For chronic pain or weakened muscles that need support and the full range of motion, use the tape with light tension.
Finally, always be sure you know where to apply the tape, you could end up doing more harm than good if you place it improperly!