You may not have heard about it, but you've no doubt seen it. Every time you race you will have seen a good number of runners with colourful tape on their ankles, knees, thighs and elsewhere. This therapeutic tape is called kinesiology tape. With so many people using it, we thought we'd find out more.
What is it?
Often known as K-tape, kinesiology tape is thin, stretchy, cotton-based, latex-free sports tape. It is hypoallergenic and can be worn for days at a time. It acts by lifting the skin away from the fascia (body), promoting increased circulation to the affected area.
What are the benefits?
Studies have shown kinesiology tape to offers a number of benefits to athletes.
1. Pain relief
By lifting the skin, the tape relieves pressure on the nerves at the injury. This helps alleviate both chronic and acute pain.
2. Reduces swelling and inflammation
Reducing pressure on the lymphatic vessels allows better drainage of fluid from the affected area.
3. Improved recovery from bruising.
The tape helps remove blood that collects under bruised skin. The lifting action of the tape draws the blood away from the injury in the direction of the tape.
4. Prevention and relief from muscle spasms and cramping
By improving blood flow, oxygen and nutrients are more able to reach the muscles, preventing and relieving spasms and cramping.
5. Recovery from muscle fatigue
Excessive exercise can cause the accumulaion of lactic acid and related chemical which cause muscle fatigue. Kinesiology tape helps to reduce this fatigue by aiding the removal of these waste products and improving provision of oxygen and nutrients.
6. Improve muscle tone
Some patients suffer from neurological or muscular conditions which prevent prevent them doing the exercises needed to aid recovery. Kinesiology tape provides muscles with support that helps allow these therapeutic exercises.