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Introduction to Using Kinesio Tape in Physical Therapy

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

I am excited to share with you one of my favorite interventions I use with my clients in physical therapy - kinesio tape. I am sure most people have seen athletes or even the average person out in the grocery store with kinesio tape on their shoulder, calf, wrist/hand, etc.

Today I want to give you a general overview of what kinesio tape is, what it’s used for, and how it can help you. Stay tuned for the second blog post in this series where I go into detail about specific types of taping techniques.

What is Kinesio Tape?

a physical therapist applying kinesio tape to a woman's knee

This form of tape often comes in a roll. It is adhesive, elastic tape, different from common athletic tapes, that is applied directly to the skin to relieve pain, muscle tension, tightness, reduce swelling & bruising, and support muscles & joints.

Kinesio tape is designed to be effective once strategically applied by a trained individual.

This tape can be worn for several hours to days following application in the therapy clinic. This is another way that you can prolong your treatment benefits at home. To learn about another effective way to benefit your aches & pains at home, especially neck & upper back pain, check out my blog post here.

How to Apply Kinesio Tape

a physical therapist prepping the skin of the shoulder for kinesio tape application

Kinesio tape is applied directly to the skin in certain directions & patterns. It is placed along muscle fibers or across joints with a certain amount of stretch or tension.

The next sections go into detail about different taping techniques to benefit different regions of injury & issue.

Kinesio Tape for Swelling & Muscle Contusions

a soccer player after spraining his ankle

One of the most common ways I use kinesio tape in the clinic is for swelling and bruising after surgery, a sprain, muscle strain, or muscle contusion. I will oftentimes use kinesio tape following sports injuries to boost an athlete’s recovery.

This technique uses what is called a “paper-off tension.” The backing of the tape is removed, and it is applied as is directly to the area of concern to reduce painful swelling. The biofeedback from the kinesio tape can improve circulation to the area of interest.

Kinesio Tape to Reduce Pain & Muscle Tension

a man with muscle tension in his upper back

The second technique I use kinesio taping for is to reduce pain & muscle tension. For this technique, I use about 20-40% tension on the tape. I then apply the tape from the insertion point of the muscle to the origin point.

This technique requires someone who is trained in the anatomy of the body to understand how the tape should be applied in the relationship to muscle fibers.

Applying Kinesio Tape for Joint Stability

a physical therapist applying kinesio tape to a child's knee to promote joint stability

The final way I use kinesio tape in the clinic is for joint stability or to support a muscle or joint. For this technique, I use 50-100% tension on the tape, or maximal stretch. The tape is applied from origin to insertion of the muscle of interest and across the unstable joint.

In closing, this post is just a brief overview of what kinesio tape is and what it can be used for. Be on the lookout for the next blog post where I go into detail about a specific taping technique.

Interested in purchasing Kinesio Tape for yourself? Check out this link here.

If you would like to learn more about kinesio tape, or feel that it may be something you would benefit from, call use today at 810-215-9222 to schedule an appointment!

We provide free 20-minute calls to get to know each other and see if you could benefit from physical therapy. Working with us may be the first step toward getting back to doing all of your favorite activities pain free!

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