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How to Use Athletic Tape

By Max Roman Dilthey

Kinesiology tape is made from cotton and polymer elastic strands to provide support and stability to an athlete's muscles. Using kinesiology tape can increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage, aiding your performance, and helping recovery after almost any activity. Kinesiology tape was developed to serve the same purposes as traditional athletic tape, but the addition of elastics and the precise Kinesio Taping Method have advanced the benefit of taping for athletes of every discipline.

The Kinesio Taping Method

The Kinesio Taping Method uses athletic tape in strategic locations on an athlete's body to provide support for sore muscles, enhance lymphatic drainage, increase blood flow, and improve performance. Kinesology tape was first used by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase, and was used in Japan through the 1980's before gaining worldwide use. Karena Wu, the president and clinical director of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in New York, told Men's Fitness, "It's breathable, flexible, and mimics skin’s elasticity . . . For sports, it can help to facilitate muscle contraction/endurance."

Enhancing Your Flow

When properly applied, kinesiology tape provides several benefits. The elastic in the tape works to slightly lift your skin, enhancing lymphatic drainage and blood flow. In an article by Kelly O'Mara in Competitor, Dr. Justin Pierce, a chiropractor in Scottsdale, Ariz. says that "we’re talking a very, very small space of separation, but it’s enough." The benefits of increasing fluid movement under the skin include enhanced muscle recovery and performance, letting athletes avoid the soreness and pain associated with intense athletic training. The increased interstitial space under the skin can also help to reduce inflammation.

Structure and Support

Preventing pain from old joint injuries and relieving pain during activities like running and cycling makes kinesiology tape essential for some athletes. The Kinesio Taping Association International says, that when properly applied by a trained specialist, athletic tape can provide structure and support to joints and muscles by mimicking the thickness and elasticity of skin. Kinesiology tape can also provide extended soft tissue manipulation, which increases the effectiveness of other physical therapies.

Tape Yourself Up

With proper instruction, you can apply kinesiology tape to yourself. The Kinesio Taping Association's self-study resources provide a starting point for athletes without access to a Kinesio Taping Method certified practitioner. Precise analysis of the needs of each patient is an important part of proper athletic taping. Taping the affected area incorrectly can limit the benefit you'll get from athletic tape. When properly applied, however, kinesiology tape can last for days, and persists through perspiration, swimming, or showers for long-lasting comfort and recovery.

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