Ever noticed the neon-colored tape on the legs of some athletes? No, it’s not an athletic fashion trend. Nor is it some magical way to prevent or heal injuries. It’s called Kinesio tape, and if done correctly, it can be an excellent way to support weak muscles, joints, and tendons that are problem areas.
Kinesio tape can definitely be an alternative way to prevent injuries or even help in injury recovery. However, it’s not the end-all-be-all for injury prevention. Instead, Kinesio tape is a method to use to help support more proven methods of injury prevention and recovery. It is a method to help supplement real rehabilitation, says Kyle McCuskey, a certified athletic trainer for OSR Physical Therapy.
“Kinesio tape doesn’t solve the problem,” says McCuskey, who’s certified in the supplemental therapy method. “It can be used as maintenance and can help catch some pain, but it’s building strength and letting the injury heal that’s going to solve any problems.”
What Exactly Is Kinesio Tape?
Kinesio tape, or taping, is a rehabilitation method that supplements other recovery methods. It provides support and stability to muscles and joints as the body is going through the healing process. Furthermore, it helps provide support to someone who may not have an injury that completely debilitates them, but is still in pain.
Certain pain, especially lingering or nagging pain, is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong; that there is not enough support or stability for that area. Furthermore, it indicates improper movement or misalignment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that an athlete must sit out a game or practice. However, it’s a good indication to seek help and guidance from an athletic trainer or physical therapist. These professionals are going to determine how serious the pain is and what can be done about it, including the usage of Kinesio tape.
“Kinesio taping provides biomechanical feedback on certain areas of the body,” says McCuskey, who’s been an athletic trainer for over three years. “It will help guide or assist proper movement, helping reduce swelling and certainly helping with sprains.”
What Does Kinesio Tape Do?
Kinesio tape can certainly alleviate pain by reducing swelling. However, if it’s important to realize the place taping holds in an overall rehabilitation and injury prevention method. Although it’s supportive and supplementary, the best way to recover and prevent future injuries is to build strength. By targeting the supporting muscles around the problem area, you can help prevent injuries.
However, until we can build that strength and support, Kinesio tape can help guide the body in proper movement. We can also use it as maintenance, says McCuskey.
“For someone who has a nagging injury but doesn’t want to sit out the game, you can use this tape to get you through this next game until we can focus on rehabilitation,” he says. “It catches the negative effects of injuries and pain, but we shouldn’t be relying on it. The only way to make the pain go away is through proper rehabilitation, which includes strength-building and the healing process.”
Do You Need It?
The answer is really between you and your physical therapist or athletic trainer. Either one is going to recommend methods that are dependent on your individual circumstances surrounding your injury or pain. Kinesio tape may help you be pain-free as you get through the season or just to get through the strength-building process. However, taping is only a supplemental method as you heal and build the strength needed for support.