Using Kinesiology Tape to Maintain Your Regimen
By Jake Boly
Joint pain and discomfort can be problematic in the gym and during fitness regimens, especially when not dealt with properly. Any form of pain can wreak havoc on workouts, fitness progress, and the body’s day-to-day movements.
Joint pain and discomfort don’t necessarily indicate an injury, but they may serve as a sign that the body is not moving properly. Outside of finding a trainer to watch and correct one’s movement at all times, what can someone do? That’s where kinesiology tape can come in.
What Is Kinesiology Tape?
Kinesiology tape is an athletic tape specifically designed to support and move with the body. This tape often has a special adhesive that can remain attached to the body for a long time. The tape itself is often created with a blend of materials like nylon, cotton, synthetic fibers, and cloth.
Kinesiology tape can be a useful tool when it comes to reducing mild joint pain in a fitness setting. It is specifically designed to support movement and joint health, as well as promote recovery.
Benefits of Kinesiology Tape
Kinesiology tape can benefit its users in three areas: movement, recovery, and stability. It’s important to remember that tape by itself cannot heal an injury, though it can help relieve mild joint pain.
Potentially the biggest benefit of kinesiology tape is how it supports healthy movement. The tape applies a light stimulus on the skin and then pulls the skin in the direction in which it’s applied. This light pulling creates a mental and neuromuscular connection with the stimulus (the kinesiology tape). This connection can help the body redirect movement in a fashion more beneficial to joint health.
Tape can be used almost as a precursor or reminder for the body to move optimally. For example, if you apply kinesiology tape to the back, then the body may naturally maintain a better posture due to the light pulling that the tape is applying. Tape can be used on the mid-back and lower back to support posture.
The second—and a far more subjective benefit—is how kinesiology tape can promote recovery. The light pulling action on the skin that kinesiology tape provides is thought to promote better blood flow to the musculature it is placed on. This, in turn, is said to improve recovery due to the increased blood supply near the sore area of the body.
For example, after a strenuous leg day, one can apply kinesiology tape to the quad muscles in an attempt to promote blood flow to them. Promotion of blood flow will support the transportation of nutrients that the muscles need to recover. Kinesiology tape can be applied to the shoulders, arms, and back, and really anywhere that feels sore to support recovery.
The final benefit that comes with kinesiology-tape use is the promotion and support of joint stability. Before going any further, it’s important to understand that tape itself will not create a stable joint, but it will serve as a stimulus for the body to naturally improve joint stability.
Kinesiology tape provides light support on the skin, although the real joint stability comes from the tension the kinesiology tape places on the body, which then conveys messages to the brain to promote more stability at the taped joint.
For example, the ankle is often taped to improve stability. In this scenario, the tape is not serving as the stable joint, it’s actually serving as a mental cueing mechanism for the body to provide itself with more support. The light touch increases the body’s proprioception and awareness, which can translate into natural joint stability.
Use Kinesiology Tape To Promote Healthy Movement
Kinesiology tape should not be regarded as a tool to magically fix painful, injured joints. This tape is designed to promote healthy movement patterns, recovery, and joint stability. If you experience mild joint pain or need to clean up some faulty movement patterns, then kinesiology tape could be a good option. In addition, a 2006 study in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that long-term supplementation of essential amino acids helped slow the effects of sarcopenia, or loss of muscle.