Did you catch any of the CrossFit Games on CBS Sports last year? How about the Summer Olympics (beach volleyball anyone?!)? NBA game? MLB game? Watch any sports lately? How about competitions… been to any of those? Did you notice how many athletes were sporting kinesiology tape?
KT Tape or RockTape are the well-known brands, and you can see their logos stuck to backs, shoulders, abs and quads in practically every sport there is, not to mention the RockTape line for horses and dogs that’s available too! Kinesiology tape brands now have sponsorships with CrossFit, Nascar, and Ironman, and sponsor a number of athletes individually as well. Across the globe, athletes are literal walking advertisements for the benefits of kinesiology tape and its ability to accelerate healing, increase circulation and relieve pain and swelling– all of which help improve endurance and overall athletic performance.
So what’s the skinny on the sticky stuff?
Developed in Japan in 1979, the taping method was used between manual therapy sessions (massage, chiro, PT…) to increase the effectiveness of the therapy and provide lasting results. This idea hit the good ole US of A in 1995, and Europe in ’96. Who knew it’s been around that long, when it feels like such a new concept!
Kineso tape is made of elastic fibers, and most (if not all) brands are latex free. The weave in the fibers is made in such a way that it has a natural stretch and allows the tape to breathe; it’s lightweight, thin and flexible enough that it mimics the body’s skin. Some brands are stickier than others, some brands sell adhesive spray to help out those with different skin types (ie: you sweat olive oil), and some brands make tapes for special populations (water sports, sensitive skin, children, animals, etc). Which brand you choose is complete preference. When applied properly, Kinesio tape can be used for almost anything- chronic pain, bruising/swelling reduction, support, alignment, performance, etc. It can be applied with different tension strengths and techniques all while allowing for unrestricted range of motion, and one application can last up to a week (yes, even on sweaty bodies and through multiple showers). While Kinesio tape can be applied mid-workout if necessary, it’s best to put it on in advance, so the adhesive can warm up, and while your skin is dry.
So what am I really going to use this stuff for?
Rehab, Alignment, Pain, Performance and beyond!
After competition, when you’re beat down and exhausted, is when you might find yourself looking for a little recovery help. Kinesio tape draws the skin up and away from the tissues beneath it to allow for increased fluid movement, while providing some extra stability and support to those super sore muscles, ligaments and joints that just worked overtime. Taking some of the pressure off, allows for rebuilding below the surface. Got lots of swelling or bruising? Get a tape job that includes a “basket” or crisscross pattern. Extra points if you photo document the change in the bruising as you change the direction of the basket! Surgery incision? No problem! There’s a taping for that too…
Do you slouch or have ankles that turn in? If you’ve got a body out of alignment, simple corrective taping can bring you back to neutral and relieve pain you might not even realize you have because you’ve lived with it for so long!
Achy low back? Annoying hip flexor? Feet hurt from double unders? Shin splints pain? Torn up hammy? Yep, taping can help you there too! Allow the tape to provide a little extra support, and give fluids the ability to move in and out so only the good stuff sticks around! Kinesio tape will decompress the area and allow the surrounding tissues some respite from picking up the slack, decreasing the ouch factor.
And finally, what everyone here really wants to know about… Performance taping. Aside from providing support to ankles, elbows, shoulders, and even toes to help prevent injury, Kinesio tape can also help call on muscles to fire in proper sequence by taping movement chains. There’s research out there that “shows kinesthetic guidance can be translated into behavior 30 times faster than visual guidance can and many times faster than audio guidance.” Meaning, if you feel it, you respond faster than if you see or hear it. The sensory benefit of the taping provides positive results in performance. If you’re hitting reps under duress, having the ability to feel those muscles putting in work will help you continue to perform that movement properly, keeping you in control, instead of allowing the fatigue to breakdown the technique, putting you in harm’s way.
There are a million and one videos on YouTube and brand sites on how to tape, so you can certainly try your hand at it yourself, or ask a buddy to help you with hard to reach areas. Or, for bonus points, you could visit someone with some actual know-how, who’s been trained in the ways of the Force. Some Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Massage Therapists and even General Practitioners have the right knowledge to tape you properly. RockTape in particular offers courses so your fave CrossFit coach can provide this benefit to members too! At CrossFit Shatter, Lucille is our resident expert!! She’s standing by with rolls and rolls of tape in fun colors and patterns, ready and willing to tape what ails you! Chat with her today to find out how you two can work together to get you feeling like a million bucks and hitting all the PRs in 2018!!
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