If you’ve ever watched the Olympics or mainly another sporting occasion, you’ve most likely seen athletes on the courtroom or within the discipline, and even within the pool, carrying giant items of brightly coloured tape — not wrapped round their limbs however positioned on high of their pores and skin, usually in lengthy strips atop their muscle groups.

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It’s not a style assertion. It’s elastic therapeutic tape, a particular kind of stretchy, versatile athletic tape usually used to assist deal with muscle and joint ache. But does it work?

Sports medication doctor Dominic King, DO, explains why you would possibly use elastic therapeutic tape and what it may possibly (and might’t) do on your physique.

What is KT tape?

Often simply referred to as KT tape, elastic therapeutic tape is an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive on one aspect. It was invented within the Nineteen Seventies by Dr. Kenzo Kase, whose Kinesio® Tex Tape continues to be widespread at present, although many different varieties have since cropped up.

Physical therapists and different healthcare suppliers use KT tape for quite a lot of causes, together with treating ache from sports activities accidents and enhancing athletic efficiency. You may also hear it referred to as:

  • Kinesiology tape.
  • Okay-tape.
  • KT.

How does athletic tape work?

Not all athletic tape is created equal, and it’s not all meant to do the identical factor.

There’s customary athletic tape (generally referred to as strapping or inflexible tape), which is thick and never stretchy. This conventional tape is used to immobilize a joint, like a wrist or ankle.

On the opposite hand, there’s KT tape, which is skinny, stretchy and utilized straight over a joint. Because it doesn’t restrict motion the way in which conventional sports activities tape does, athletes can proceed to put on it whereas they follow and compete.

“When you apply KT tape to a joint, it helps to act almost like a rubber band, supporting muscles and tendons and taking a little stress off the joints,” Dr. King explains. “It can also help relieve swelling in certain areas.”

Where can you employ it?

Depending in your accidents or particular areas of ache, your bodily therapist or different healthcare supplier might suggest utilizing KT tape in your:

Pros and cons of utilizing KT tape

To tape or to not tape? Dr. King walks us by way of among the claims about KT tape and helps separate reality from fiction.

Can assist relieve sore joints

Went a bit of too exhausting? With the appropriate steerage, KT tape can assist you discover some temporary relief by easing the depth of your ache — however the key phrase right here is “temporary.”

“For the short term, it can help with some joints that might be painful, for a couple of hours or maybe for a day,” Dr. King says.

May assist with continual ache

“Research suggests that Kinesio tape may help relieve pain for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain,” Dr. King notes, “though it’s not any more effective than other treatments.”

One study discovered that KT tape helped cut back ache in individuals with osteoarthritis, whereas research is mixed on whether or not KT tape can assist relieve the ache of shoulder tendinitis. And there’s no conclusive scientific proof that Kinesio tape can cut back incapacity in individuals with continual ache.

No confirmed long-term advantages

Don’t anticipate KT tape to resolve any ongoing ache or different points. Research has but to point out any lasting profit from utilizing it.

“I wouldn’t rely on KT taping alone to treat your musculoskeletal conditions, but it may serve a role as one of many treatments that your provider recommends,” Dr. King says.

May offer you further assist

Because KT tape doesn’t prohibit your motion, it’s good for giving further assist to your joints and muscle groups, particularly if you happen to take care of a continual problem like:

  • Patellofemoral stress syndrome.
  • IT band friction syndrome.
  • Achilles tendonitis.

Research suggests that KT tape offers some assist to unstable ankles, and one study discovered that it helped defend martial artists’ Achilles tendons. Because of the bonus assist it offers, some individuals additionally report feeling extra comfy being lively with KT tape than with out.

“Just be aware of the risk of being over-confident in how well the tape is going to work,” Dr. King cautions. “You don’t want to push your body too hard, and you don’t want to push through pain.”

Can complement different remedies

Kinesio tape isn’t a standalone remedy, however it may be paired with different remedies.

“We don’t recommend using the tape as a first line of defense to treat muscle soreness, but rather as part of a program that includes rest, stretching, recovery and sometimes physical therapy to address underlying muscle imbalance or instability,” Dr. King states.

Probably received’t assist your athletic efficiency

Some individuals might expertise short-term efficiency advantages from utilizing KT tape. But don’t anticipate to abruptly flip right into a LeBron James-style athlete.

“Many people think using KT tape will give them an advantage over the athletic competition,” Dr. King says, “but it’s often more of a perceived effect than a real one.”

Research hasn’t dominated out the placebo impact with regards to Kinesio tape — however you continue to shouldn’t depend on it to present you a aggressive benefit. Studies present that KT tape doesn’t have an effect on track and field runners’ soar efficiency or soccer players’ general efficiency, amongst different sorts of athleticism.

Won’t show you how to get well sooner

There aren’t but many high-quality research about utilizing Kinesio tape after a musculoskeletal harm, however Dr. King says to not anticipate it that can assist you bounce again any sooner.

Recovering from severe sports activities accidents requires bodily remedy by a educated sports activities remedy skilled. “There’s really no replacement for the neuromuscular reeducation you get through physical therapy,” he says.

How to make use of KT tape

It might seem to be no huge deal to attempt to apply KT tape by yourself, however not so quick. It’s way more than a easy bandage.

Kinesio tape ought to at all times be utilized, no less than initially, by a educated sports activities remedy skilled who can decide how a lot tape you want, what route it must be utilized in and the place it ought to go in your pores and skin.

Without that correct steerage, Dr. King warns that you can truly make your ache worse. “Whenever you’ve muscle soreness — both ache throughout exercise or lingering ache after exercise — it’s vital to see a healthcare skilled to know the underlying downside that’s inflicting that symptom.

“That results in the appropriate remedy for the appropriate diagnoses, and in the end, the appropriate restoration.“

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