What is it?

Over the last two decades, we have seen a growing trend in the use of Kinesio taping (or K tape). Although it was first invented in the 1970’s by a Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kaze, it only saw worldwide exposure during the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Even then, it hadn’t gained enough widespread attention. Fast forward twenty years to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the world would never be the same again. The insurgence of Kinesio taping from this point onward has been quite remarkable and today it is being used worldwide by various health care practitioners to treat and compliment treatment strategies.

Does it work?

The answer to this burning question is a unanimous yes. And the approach doesn’t have to be complicated. It is actually quite simple and most of all effective. K-tape is completely different from conventional types of sports tape in the fact that it stretches along its length but not across its width. This allows it to contour around body parts and allows joints to move through a full range of motion.

The tape serves to allow tissue decompression. Tissue decompression has two pivotal effects on the body. First, it relieves pressure from the free nerve endings in the tissues that are responsible for pain, so it can immediately reduce perceived pain. Secondly, the decompression action of the tape permits better circulation around the area that is taped.

Apart from tissue decompression, K-taping stimulates a wide array of sensory nerves in the skin and the deeper tissues. The skin and the connective tissue beneath it are filled with sensory receptors that are responsible for feeling light and heavy touch, fine point discrimination, pain, temperature and pressure. Additionally, some of these receptors give us a sense of where the body’s parts are in space, especially with movement.

What do we use it for?

With K-tape, the goal is to encourage proper movement. It has various applications which can be utilized throughout the different rehabilitation care phases or stages of healing. In other words, it is useful in the acute, sub-acute and chronic stages of injury healing as well as throughout active rehabilitation. If we look at the opposite end of the spectrum, it can be used for prevention, recovery and performance improvements in training or competition.

The tapes application proves useful for pain reduction, fluid dynamics (swelling), postural feedback, nerve entrapment and scar tissue taping.

How do we use it for tennis elbow?

Before any tape can be applied, a quick screening has to be done

If you have never had the tape applied, the best would be to use a test patch

Apply a small piece of the tape to the skin and monitor it for 15 minutes

Ensure the skin is clean and dry-soap water or alcohol can be used to prepare the skin

Any long hair should be trimmed short

Round the corners to ensure longer adherence

Kinesiotape preparation

Stretch the skin, not the tape. The ends of the tape should never be stretched.

Assessing the skin and measuring the kinesiotape

Stretch the arm out and flex your wrist with fingertips pointing towards the floor

Start with sticking the stabilisation strips from the elbow down to the wrist

Application of the stabilisation strip

Follow these with a decompression strip

Apply decompression strip

The direction of application, starting point, number of strips, the order of the strips and the length of strips is all up to you. All you need to ensure is that the application is practical, comfortable and safe

How do we take it off?

The tape can stay on for 3 to 5 days. Removing the tape should be done by supporting the adjacent skin or sliding the finger along the tape while removing and pulling the tape with the opposite hand. Its best to do when the tape is wet and warm, so remove after a shower or good soak!

Do we have to watch out for anything?

Tape CANNOT be applied to: open wounds, skin infections, active cancer, deep vein thrombosis, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

Only tape areas that you can stretch and have good control over and are visible. Avoid putting yourself or others in awkward positions.