Kinesio Tape

6 Sep

In his book “Every Second Counts”, Lance Armstrong says it was “…a special hot-pink athletic tape that came from Japan and seemed to have special powers…” Current ATP world number 1 Novak Djokavic, US Open Champion Rory Mcilroy, and Wales football international Gareth Bale all swear by it. 

So, ever wondered what that crazy coloured tape that seems to have suddenly appeared everywhere is, or more importantly, what it actually does? Having recently completed the Official Kinesio Taping course in London – gaining another baffling combination of letters to place after my name in the process –  I will here try and condense hours and hours of classroom learning into a digestible blog! 

To fully understand K-Tapes potential, however, we will need a certain amount of back story; In the early 1970’s, a chiropractor in Japan, Dr Kenzo Kase, started thinking of a way in which he could ensure that once his patients left his treatment room, his manual work wasn’t undone. He started developing a tape that would act as a ‘prescription’ between appointments – essentially a tool to maintain the benefits of the treatment, and encourage the body’s healing. Fast forward nearly 40 years, and the strips of pink, black and blue tape paint Wimbledon, The Tour de France, The Premier League, The Six Nations, International Athletics, and still it is estimated that 85% of Kinesio Tape applications are on non-athletes. It has been found to be beneficial on conditions from prolapsed discs to cerebral palsy to muscle strains.  How?  Well, here comes the science bit.

Kinesio Tape works by being placed on stretched soft tissue. This causes convolutions on the skin, which have 2 major benefits;

1) Making more space underneath the skin for the waste products (lactic acid, interstitial fluid etc) to drain, and

2) Moving the tissue away from nerve receptors, which interrupt the nervous system relaying pain messages to the brain. 

To put that in even more simple terms – less swelling, and less pain

These 2 factors, when partnered with manual therapy treatments, combine to stimulate the body’s natural healing and repair responses. The tapes qualities mimic those of the skin in stretch and weight, meaning the body becomes unaware of its appearance. It is also water-proof, and porous, and is designed to last up to 5 days (with some looking after, I would add) which means that although it is a slightly more expensive option than traditional tapes, it actually works out more cost effective. 

Kinesio Tape works in a vastly different way to ‘traditional’ taping techniques. Anyone who has played sport to any level will have seen the traditional McConnell type taping – mummifying the ankle, for example. That type of taping aims to limit range of movement – to avoid taking an injured joint beyond its often limited range of motion. Kinesio works to encourage homeostasis, or to return to the body’s state of normality. Put another way, it is a corrective tape. Dr Kase himself  say that “Kinesio-taping is a rehabilitative, therapeutic modality based on the body’s own natural healing process”, and can be successfully used for mechanical, fascial, spacial, functional, and circulatory/lymphatic correction, as well as ligament and tendon correction.

I’ll admit it’s very easy to be cynical about a strip of bright coloured thread – it’s never going to be everyone’s idea of looking cool, or tough – though if the New Zealand All Blacks can carry it off….

My personal opinion is that as it can be used to aid or hamper a muscle (depending on treatment), K Tape relies heavily on the application – and certainly a good working knowledge of anatomy. Sports injury treatment is a results business, and Kinesio Tape – when applied correctly – gets results.  What else matters?

Taping to reduce swelling








K-Tape for "Shin Splints"








 For more information on Kinesio Taping, visit

For more information on whether Kinesio Tape can benefit you, email


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