Kinesio Tape: What Is It and What’s the Hype

Kinesio Tape (Cushioning)

The term “kinesio” comes from the Greek word “kin” which means bone or cartilage. Kinesio refers to the padding around your joints. Kinesio tape is made up of two layers of material: a thin layer called the backing and a thicker layer called the adhesive. The backing is usually made of either nylon or spandex. The adhesive is typically a latex based substance.

Benefits of Kinesio Tape

Kinesio tape offers several advantages over traditional orthotics:

1) Less Pressure on Joints : Because it doesn’t restrict movement, it allows greater range of motion and less pain to occur due to pressure on the joint.

2) More Durable : Because it doesn’t wear out, it lasts longer than other types of orthotics.

3) Easy To Use : Because it is so simple to use, many people are able to do so without any training.

How Does Kinesio Tape Work?

In order for the tape to function properly, there needs to be some sort of elasticity between the skin and the backing. This allows the skin to move freely with the backing. In order for the tape to stay in place, there needs to be adhesion. This is why it is important that there not be any oils or lotions on the skin before application.

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The tape should be applied directly on the skin and can’t be applied over any other type of bandage. It can be worn for several days. However the longer it is worn, the stronger the adhesion gets and can cause pain when it is removed. It should be replaced every two to three days.

Kinesio tape can be applied to most any body part, but it needs to be re-applied to the same area every time. If it is applied to a joint, it should not be applied over a bony prominence or the risk of skin irritation occurs.

It is possible for someone to apply the tape themselves, but it is recommended that only a trained professional do so because there are many factors involved in order for it to work properly. If improperly applied, it can cause skin irritation or restrict movement. It is also possible to apply too much to the area which will cause skin dryness and itchiness.

Wearing Kinesio Tape:

The guideline is one inch of tape per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can wear up to one inch and a half of Kinesio tape. This guideline is not set in stone because everyone’s body is different. It is best to start out with less and then add more if needed. If the tape is applied too tightly or too much is applied, it can cause skin irritation.

Can Other Tape BE Used Instead Of Kinesio?

It is common for people to try to use other types of tape on their body instead of Kinesio. This is not recommended because most tapes (such as duct tape) are not made to stretch and apply pressure on the body. These types of tape can rip off pieces of your skin when removed because they stick so tightly to the body.

Kinesio Tape Colors

The color of the tape is mainly for marketing purposes. Most people believe that a color specific to an injury should be used (i.e. green for shoulder, blue for back etc.) This isn’t necessarily true because the color of the tape doesn’t matter as long as it stretches with the skin.

The only real importance of the color is that the therapists can tell what you are using so they don’t give you a hard time for wasting your money.

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How To Apply Kinesio Tape

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to apply Kinesio tape. These are general tips and can vary from person to person. Always ask your physical therapist how they prefer it applied for your particular injury.

Before you apply the tape, make sure the skin is clean and dry. The area should be rubbed lightly to increase the temperature and reduce the chance of skin irritation.

The first piece of tape should be placed directly on the skin. No creases or folds should be in the tape as this can cause it to stick to itself when applied. The tape should be applied in the direction of hair growth or in the direction that causes the least resistance (usually horizontal).

One edge of the tape should be anchored on the skin and the remainder of the tape stretched evenly until it is fully extended. The pressure should be maintained for 30 seconds before the next piece is applied.

The pieces of tape should be applied diagonal to one another (at a 90 degree angle) in a lattice-like fashion. Each piece should have one anchor on the skin and be stretched until it is fully extended.

The final piece of tape should be anchored on skin and the remainder stretched until it is fully extended. The pieces should form an X across the skin. This piece should be left on for at least 48 hours. All other pieces should be removed when they start to detach from the skin in order to prevent skin irritation.

People often ask how long Kinesio tape should be worn. The general guideline is to leave it on for between 24 and 72 hours. This can vary depending on the individual and the type of injury. If there is any sign of skin irritation, it should be removed immediately.

Kinesio tape should not be worn while participating in potentially dangerous activities (i.e. swimming, heavy lifting, etc.) or during sexual activity. It should also not be worn if you have a known allergy to adhesives or latex.

When in doubt, always ask your physical therapist before taping.

Sources & references used in this article:

A Quirky Athletic Tape Gets Its Olympic Moment by T PARKER-POPE – New York Times, August, 2008 –

Rehabilitation following partial glossectomy and neck dissection for tongue cancer by S Courtney-Koro – Rehabilitation Oncology, 2004 –

Bradley Wiggins: My Time: An Autobiography by B Wiggins – 2012 –

Patríot Talon by A Graham – 2006 –