We've all seen people with colorful tape on their shoulders, knees, and backs. What is this colorful tape? Is it different from athletic tape? Why do people use it? Let's dig in a little deeper to learn more!
Though more popular of the past few years, kinesio tape has been around since the 1970's. Essentially, kinesio tape is a stretchable tape that is used to reduce pain. When the tape is applied, it subtly lifts the skin which alters the flow of blood and lymphatics. In fact, those who use kinesio tape site the positive physiological effects on the skin, lymphatic and circulatory systems, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. It should not be used as a person's sole treatment. Rather, it is most effective when used with therapeutic and neuromuscular exercise.
Why is it applied using those patterns? The tape is designed to lift the skin and the space in between each strip allows air to move through. Once on the skin (some call this curing), the kinesio tape acts as a kind of rubber band that lifts the skin to create space between the skin and the structures underneath. This increased space reduces the person's sensation of pain.
Kinesio tape is different than athletic tape. While kinesio tape is used to reduce inflammation and pain, athletic tape is used to provide stability, support, and protection to joints.
Lastly, why the different colors? There is no difference between the colors. The tape and adhesive are the same strength, so it does not matter which color you use. The different colors make it easier to see where strips of tape have been applied.