You might have heard of Kinesiology tapes before, especially for all you sports enthusiasts out there. And for those of you who aren’t as familiar with it, a Kinesiology tape is basically those strips of colorful tape you see wrapped around different parts of the athlete’s body. 

Of course, a Kinesiology tape isn’t something that only athletes can use. Are you experiencing neck strain? Or maybe complaining about back pains a lot often? Then, a Kinesiology tape can work wonders for you. 

It’s basically for anyone who’s suffering or at risk of suffering from some sort of muscle pain. So, whether you’re an athlete, a dancer, someone working manual labor, or just someone who spends too much time sitting at your computer and having to suffer the physical consequences of it, you don’t need to think twice about using this adhesive tape.

This article will go through what exactly a Kinesiology tape is, the different styles of applying it, and the right way to apply it without touching its adhesive.

What is Kinesiology Tape

This is a type of tape made from material that’s stretchable and easy for you to breathe in, which is usually cotton.  It’s meant to mimic your skin’s elasticity and provide enough pressure and support to your muscles and tissues. 

This way, your injury or strained muscle can heal even while you’re moving about. Of course, that doesn’t include any strenuous activities. It doesn’t completely remove your injury so it’s best to take it easy as much as you can.

The tape has a medical-grade adhesive that’s resistant to both water and sweat, making it strong enough to last you up to five days. You won’t have to worry about it peeling off even while you’re showering or working out. 

Different Styles of Kinesiology Tape Application

There are different ways you can apply the Kinesiology tape to your body. It can depend on the type of injury you have or which part of your body you want the tape to wrap around, so be sure you’re aware of your purpose before applying the tape.

It’s usually cut into three types of strips:

I Strip

The I strip is a single-piece strip of the Kinesiology tape. It’s also the most straightforward of them all. This is usually used for placing across large muscles or for a single specific area of pain in your body. Simply cut a piece of tape from the roll and you’ve got yourself an I strip.

Y Strip

Y strips, on the other hand, are for when you want to use the same strip of tape at different angles, or across different muscles. 

All you have to do is create an I strip and then cut down the center. Make sure to leave a small tab at the end to create the Y strip.

Lymphatic Fan

The Lymphatic Fan style is not as versatile as the other two. It’s used specifically when you want to reduce any swelling in your muscles. In order to create the Lymphatic Fan, create a Y strip and cut each tail in half. Just like the Y strip, make sure to leave the small tab found at the end. 

Applying Kinesiology Tape

If you’re wondering what it is exactly makes the Kinesiology tape unique and special, then the answer is the acrylic adhesive that it comes with. It also possesses a certain level of thickness and softness that makes it feel a lot more comfortable on your body compared to regular medical or athletic tape. 

Another good thing about the Kinesiology Athletic Tape is that it’s designed to stay on your body for up to five days. But the downside is that it’s a one-time application only which means that the moment it’s removed, it loses its stickiness and can no longer be reapplied. 

So, when applying the tape make sure you’re certain of the spot you’re placing it on because you can no longer move it to a different spot on your body. Touching the sticky side can also cause it to lose its stickiness because of the skin oils that end up coating the adhesive’s surface. 

When applying the Kinesiology tape, it’s always advised to avoid making contact with the adhesive. But it’s easier said than done. With the tape being flexible and thin, holding on to it after the backing’s removed and touching only the fabric side to apply it to a specific part of the body can prove to be a challenge. 

Fortunately, these techniques can help you apply your Kinesiology tape without having to worry about touching the dreaded sticky side:

Center Stretch Application

This technique of applying kinesiology tape is used directly over the specific part of your body that is in pain. For this technique, you stretch the center portion of the tape before placing it on your skin, and then apply both anchor ends without any stretch. 

Usually, this application is done using tapes that are approximately six to eight inches long. Here are the more detailed steps you can follow to learn this technique:

  • Fold your kinesiology tape in half. Make sure the sides with the fabric are facing inward. Form a crease in the backing paper by pressing along the fold. Afterwards, tear the paper carefully across the fold until you have fully separated the backing.
  • The fabric sides of the kinesiology tape should then be turned towards each other and have the ripped ends of the paper face upwards. Place your fingers on the side with the fabric and your thumbs on the side with the paper while gently stretching the tape. Do this until you notice the paper pop up on each side.
  • Hold each of the ripped ends of the backing then peel them back so the center of the tape is exposed. Estimate when approximately two inches are left at each end before pulling at it gently to stretch the tape. 
  • Make sure to maintain the stretch when applying the exposed part of the tape to the pain point in your body. Apply the final two inches at both ends without any stretch in order to prevent any skin irritation. Then, activate the tape’s adhesive by rubbing from the center towards the ends.

Applying using the Anchor Ends

This is a more common way of kinesiology tape application. You’ve probably already used this technique without knowing what it’s called.

In this technique, you simply choose one end to begin with and then continue pressing along the tape, making sure the strip is completely applied. 

Usually, for this technique, you would peel the tip of the tape off its backing using your finger and then work your way from there. The problem is that you still end up touching the adhesive side of the tape with this. 

Here are the steps for applying this technique without having your fingers touch the adhesive:

  • Form a crease in the tape’s backing paper by folding it about 2” from the tip. Afterwards, rip the paper carefully along the fold, making sure to separate the backing into two pieces. 
  • Make sure the parts of the tape with the fabric are facing each other and the ripped ends of the paper are facing upwards. Then, stretch it gently until you notice the backing starts to pull away. You can then remove the tiny piece of paper completely from the short end.
  • Lay the short end over the area you want to apply the tape to. Use one hand to smooth it down while holding the rest with your other hand.
  • Hold that end while stretching the tape to separate the other ripped part of the paper. Once it’s separated from the tape, hold the paper using one hand and use the other to smooth out the tape into the skin.
  • Continue gently removing the paper from the tape until the strip has been completely applied to the skin. Then, begin briskly rubbing the tape starting from the center towards both ends so it sticks to the skin properly. 

Steps to Make the Tape Application Last

Best Kinesiology Tape are designed to last for more than a few days but there are still a few steps you need to do to guarantee that it stays on. It’s better to be safe than sorry after all. 

  • Use a good pair of scissors. When cutting your tape, you need to make sure that you’re using good scissors. If you use blunt kitchen scissors, it will most likely fray your tape and make it uncomfortable to put on your skin.
  • Prepare your skin before applying. Make sure that your skin is dry and clean before putting the tape on. Using moisturizers or waxes stops the tape’s adhesive from working so make sure your skin is free from it. If you can, try and shave too. A good surface area is needed for the tape and hair isn’t included.
  • Avoid stretching too much. Stretching the tape causes it to recoil. If you overstretch, it can create too much friction on your skin. Try not to stretch it beyond fifty percent and make sure the ends are placed without any stretch. 
  • Apply directly to the skin. Stick the tape directly to your skin as much as possible instead of over another piece of tape. It does stick to other tapes, but it works a lot better if it has direct contact with the skin.
  • Avoid touching the adhesive. As emphasized in this article, touching the adhesive is bad for the tape as it leaves a residue behind, causing it to lose its adhesion. This makes the tape last a lot shorter than it normally would have.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! Now that you have an idea of the different techniques for properly applying Kinesiology Tape, you can try it out for yourself and put your knowledge to the test. 

There are several good Kinesiology tapes available online that you can use. Of course, they’re not only great for test practices but for actual application, as well. 

Ultimately, the ways to apply the tape can vary from person to person and injury to injury. Before tackling it yourself, check the brand of your tape. It could contain properties that you or the person who would be using it might be allergic to so it’s best to make sure. Almost all huge brands are hypoallergenic and latex-free but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

But most importantly, you should consult a physical therapist beforehand. It’s always better to ask the advice of an expert, especially when it comes to your own health and physical well-being. 

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