That colorful tape you see on beach volleyball players and increasingly on endurance athletes is more than just a fun shade of athletic tape. The brightly-colored kinesiology tape is made up of cotton fibers with polymer elastic strands woven throughout. Whereas traditional athletic tape restricts blood flow and movement, kinesiology tape is pliable and allows for a full range of motion. Although it can be applied in a variety of patterns, the tape predominantly works in a few key ways.
It turns down the volume on pain. More specifically, it runs interference on pain. Ever whack your shin and rub it, and suddenly realize you feel better? Kinesiology tape on the skin can interfere with painful signals which are directed to the brain. When kinesiology tape is properly applied, many of our patients call it “magic” or think that it fixed their injury instantly. In fact, it helps to change how your body interprets pain, turning down the pain “volume” that your body hears.
It normalizes muscle tone. When someone is injured, fatigued, sick, or inflamed, the symphony of muscle action that normally takes place with great accuracy often falls out of tune. This can happen all over the body. For instance, research has shown that people who sprain their ankle tend to have altered activity of their hip muscle as a result. Kinesiology tape helps bring dormant muscle back to life and help calm down the overactive muscles. It helps your body coordinate movement as if it weren’t hurt, hence allowing it to heal properly.
It distributes physical stress. Unlike conventional taping, which prevents movement – kinesiology tape allows full movement of a taped area. Through elastic properties and quick recoil, kinesiology can help distribute forces to other nearby areas through the fascia, ligaments, and even bones.