Whether you're a professional athlete or a casual runner, you may have heard of or even used something called KT tape, also known as kinesiology tape. This special tape can be placed on the knees, calves, or shoulders. This tape is elastic and is thought to create sensory input into your muscles while retaining freedom of movement. Read on to learn more about KT tape and find out if it will work for you.
Invented in the 1970s in Japan, KT tape solved the problem of using medical tape, which is typically very stiff. This pliable, elastic tape has taken the athletic world by storm over the last decade. While materials may vary, most KT tape is made of cotton, spandex, and some form of adhesive so it clings to the skin. This specialized tape offers support for the muscles while allowing you to move naturally. When applied properly, KT tape can lift the skin from the tissues underneath, which can cause compression and decompression that alters pain signals to the brain.
When KT tape is applied, it can offer a number of potential benefits. One of those benefits is the ability to provide pain relief and decrease swelling in some cases. But many athletes use it to help stabilize the muscles without constricting motion. Many runners use the tape for problems like shin splints, knee pain, swelling, Achilles pain, and general muscle pain. The tape comes in a range of colors, and you might find various styles to suit your individual needs. For example, some KT tape is made especially for the shoulders or knees, while other formats are designed for general muscle areas.
The effectiveness of KT tape often depends on how it is applied. For shin splints, it should be taped just below the outside of the knee to the base of the big toe, with additional strips applied over the shin laterally where it hurts. For knee pain, two strips can be placed on the quad muscle, and two down the right and left of the kneecap in a teardrop shape. When it comes to muscle pain, use two strips to border the area where it hurts. Read the directions carefully before applying KT tape to ensure proper application. With some practice and an understanding of how to use KT tape effectively, you may notice improved muscle function, less pain, and the ability to run, walk, or jog freely.