If you’re into athletics, lifting, or working out regularly, you’ve probably wondered how to best recover after a session.
There are all of the usual methods like hydrating, using recovery powder, and cool-down routines. But using muscle tape for recovery is a newer method that has been showing promising results for many users.
We’ll walk you through kinesiology tape and how to use it to aid with your recovery!
No matter whether you’re a beginning lifter and dealing with some simple aches and pains or you’re lifting heavy and a recovery routine is crucial.
Kinesiology tape is a simple and cost-effective way to keep your body ready to go for your next workout.
Great athletes have often been seen wearing colorful strips of tape and everyone started asking what it is and how it works.
Kinesiology tape is one of the easiest ways for athletes and workout fiends to find relief without turning to heavy medication.
While there are always a few people who use the product simply to look good, for the most part, taping up trouble areas on your body can provide relief even if you aren’t playing a professional sport.
Choosing to turn to a method of pain relief that doesn’t cause side effects like kinesiology tape is a great way to improve your health whether you’re a dedicated walker, a professional athlete, or you just get sore from work.
Using kinesiology tape is simple and easy and after you learn to apply it yourself, can be a huge improvement in your life.
What is Kinesiology tape?
Kinesiology tape was developed in the 1970s by a Japanese chiropractor named Dr. Kenzo Kase. He was on the hunt for a product that would provide adequate support without limiting movement the way common athletic tapes typically did.
Kinesiology tape is very stretchy and is made of cotton and nylon and is designed to mimic the skin’s natural elasticity.
This allows users and consumers the ability to retain their full range of motion when playing games, lifting, or just doing regular workouts.
It’s water-resistant and medical-grade with the ability to stay on the skin and provide support for three to five days. After it’s been applied, it recoils which lifts the skin creating a microscopic space between your skin and the tissues inside your body.
How does Kinesiology tape Work?
As it lifts, it can also create space in joints which reduces the cause of joint irritation especially if you’re using the joints heavily during workouts.
It’s also believed that kinesiology tape can change the signals of pain pathways, teaching your body how to respond better to pain and soreness. With the pain diverted and reduced, flexibility is increased.
Studies have shown that kinesiology tape can improve blood flow within the skin as well as the circulation of the lymphatic fluids.
With increased circulation among the lymphatic system, your body can more accurately and effectively reduce swelling around injured or sore spots in the body.
This has been used to increase circulation and reduce fluid buildup in athletes as well as women who underwent breast cancer treatment.
While kinesiology tape is used most often with workout fanatics and athletes, it has been used for other treatments as well!
Most Common Uses of Kinesiology tape
Using kinesiology tape for recovery is a newer user of the popular tape but it’s been used in other areas for years to help with health and wellness.
Physical therapists use kinesiology tape to treat injuries and use it in conjunction with other types of therapy to heal the body.
Trainers and physical therapists also use the tape to support weak zones on the body that athletes and the general populace may deal with.
You can also use this product to retrain your muscles and teach them something new or retrain them after losing function. It’s often been used to correct posture in your head and neck to give you more support overall.
If you want to discuss treatment with your doctor, by using it you can help reduce the appearance of scars in the long term.
Never use kinesiology tape on an open wound but there is evidence to show that the tape can be used on scar tissue to minimize and reduce it.
How to use Kinesiology tape for Recovery
Once your workout is over and you’re ready to apply your new recovery method, be sure that your skin isn’t scratched, sore, or broken open.
Take a shower and be sure your skin on the recovery area is clean and dry and also free from lotion or cream.
Trim off any excess hair in the area you want to tape. If your body hair is dense, you might need to shave carefully but fine hair shouldn’t be a problem.
The thicker hair might keep the hair from properly adhering to your skin and aiding with recovery.
Start by tearing the backing paper in the center of the tape. Then you’ll want to cut rounded corners on unless the tape already has them cut out. The rounded corners just keep everything from getting caught on your clothes or other things and will keep it on your body longer for recovery.
Before you do the job yourself, it’s best to have a physical therapist or another trained professional go through the process first you so you can see and feel the best way to work with your needs.
Start with an anchor on your skin first. This piece won’t have any tension on it or the other anchor end. Then apply a piece on your muscle or joint which will provide the therapeutic tension. Then you’ll finish the whole process with another anchor piece.
After you’ve applied it to your body, rub it for a few seconds to activate the glue. To fully adhere to your skin takes about 20 minutes then you’ll be set for recovery!
Each person will have different needs and desires when it comes to using kinesiology tape for post-workout recovery. Start by consulting a kinesiology tape professional who can help you determine the exact placement for recovery.
As the product lifts the skin and improves circulation, the slight swelling and inflammation that’s common with workouts can move away freely and allow the muscle to completely recover.
It will also rid the body of lactic acid and let the body recover without the need for heavy medications or other interventions.
Benefits of Kinesiology tape
One of the biggest benefits of kinesiology tape is that it doesn’t use chemicals or other types of intervention for pain relief and recovery.
Rather than throwing back some pain killers or dowsing your body in creams to relieve pain, you can strap up and go on with your day.
Combining kinesiology tape with other types of therapies is a great way to reduce pain from workouts or overuse.
Kinesiology tape has been shown to help not just relieve pain but also improve muscle fatigue and prevent cramps after workouts. While your body is recovering, your muscles and skin are lifted and given a boost.
This provides a lot of support as well for any type of injury without impeding your movement.
You’ll still be able to have a full range-of-motion anywhere on the body without sacrificing the support you need for recovery.
Downsides of Kinesiology tape
While kinesiology tape is a drug-free solution for many who struggle with pain or inflammation after working out, there are a few downsides it.
You never want to use kinesiology tape if you have any allergies to adhesive.
Tape adheres to your skin and if you have a history of allergies to adhesives, this won’t be a good choice. The tape is often left on for long periods and can quickly get irritating.
Never use it on an open wound or incision. This could create a situation where bacteria can grow and be introduced to the open wound.
Keep on the lookout for deep vein thrombosis which is a blood clot that settles in the deep veins of the arms or legs. If you use tape near these spots the mobility and blood flow can be increased and the clot can end up dislodged causing an embolism.
If there are any signs of infection, using this product on the area can make the condition worse overall. Since the product lifts the skin and increases circulation, the increased circulation can feed the cancerous lesion and cause it to grow and thrive.
Tape can also be hard to use if you need to apply it immediately after a workout. The tape won’t stick if the skin is wet or sweaty. While it is waterproof and will stay on in the shower, it won’t adhere properly if your skin is damp.
It can be hard to get the tape to adhere to the right place on your body if you’re trying to tape yourself up.
It’s best to have a professional tape you first so you can see and feel the way it needs to be done. And if you need the tape in a hard to reach place for recovery, it can be even more difficult to use it properly.
To properly recover if your issues are in a hard to reach the place, you may need to turn to other sources for help.
Best Way to Remove Tape
Once the it’s on your skin, it can be daunting to remove it!
The tape is made with a powerful adhesive and is designed to stay on your skin through sweat and showers for days.
To remove the tape without hurting your skin, you’ll want to work with a few different techniques. First, start with some oil or lotion on the top which will begin to loosen it off your skin without causing damage.
Next, remove it slowly. This isn’t ripping off a bandage to get it over with quickly! Don’t yank or pull up but work slowly across your skin to remove.
Once you’ve pulled up a small end of the strip of kt tape, press down on your skin to separate it from the tape as you move along. Bring the tape back against itself as you go along instead of just up and away from you.
Continue pressing and compressing your skin while you pull the tape back toward the end tab.
If at any point you notice that your skin is irritated or damaged, don’t reapply to your body. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist if you notice any issues or irritation as you remove it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you set out on a new recovery routine, there are always a few questions that need to be answered. Rather than jumping in without knowing exactly what you’re getting into, you can get your questions answered and begin a new recovery routine.
Your muscles and circulatory system will thank you when you decide to start using kt tape!
How Long Should You Keep Kt tape On?
For most users, kt tape isn’t used every day as the process to bind up your muscles for injuries or recovery takes a while. The actual adhesion takes about 20 minutes and the full recovery of the overused muscles takes time to heal.
Every user is unique and a doctor or physical therapist should be consulted before you decide on a specific time frame for your recovery tape. Most people use and wear the kt tape for three to four days on average.
Does Kinesiology Tape Help Heal Your Overworked Muscles?
There are several types of reactions that happen when an injury is taped each of which contributes to the overall recovery of an injury.
The traction that’s created by the tape improves circulation which helps the muscle heal itself over time. Pressure then applied allows the muscle to continue contracting with interference.
As the circulation is increased, the lymphatic drainage is improved as well. This will keep the swelling and inflammation of the trouble area down and allowing it to heal effectively.
Is Kt tape Bad for You?
For mild to moderate pain symptoms, kt tape is a great solution. There are low risks and almost no side effects associated with using kt tape.
If there are any current infections in the area being treated, kt tape isn’t recommended. There is also a risk of possibly causing a blood clot to dislodge and cause an embolism.
For the most part, the biggest side effects of using kt tape are simple skin irritations caused by removing it after a few days.
Is Kt tape Better than a Knee Brace?
The best course of action for any injury depends on the severity of the injury and the individual. For some taping, an injured or painful area can be extremely effective. For certain types of injuries, a brace may be a better choice.
While kt tape does offer some support, for superior reinforcement, you might want to choose a brace to keep your knee in the best position for healing.
If it’s a simple injury or painful area, taping is cost-effective and will ensure that you have support while also sustaining a range of motion.
How often should Kt tape be replaced?
Every person will be different but most people change it out every three to four days.
You’ll want to consult a doctor or other trained professional to determine exactly how long the taping is needed and the specific brand that you’ll want to use.
Should the Kt tape feel Tight?
If you’ve never had any experience with taping, it’s best to start by having a professional tape you up so you know how it feels and you’re sure to have the taping done right. It shouldn’t feel too tight on the skin as blisters can develop if all of it’s pulled too tight. You can also pull too hard and tear the skin.
Taping can require specific knowledge.
Both the stretch intensity and the direction that it’s been pulled play a role in the procedure needed to help with healing and recovery. A professional can adequately tape you up to help without damaging the skin in the process.
How to Buy Affordable Kt tape?
Kt tape is much more affordable than other types of recovery and pain relief but there are still more expensive and cheaper options on the market.
If you’re planning to tape up a lot for recovery, the best way to get a good deal is to buy your tape in bulk. You can also keep wearing the tape longer if you stick the ends to your skin instead of another piece of tape when you tape up.
Good rolls of kt tape cost $25-$40 a roll so use it with caution.
While you may want to look like the professional athletes by taping up every area of your body, it’s best to use all of it sparingly and with purpose.
If you do anything physical from playing professional sports or you’ve got a physically demanding job, using kt tape is a great, low side effect option for recovery.
You’ll be able to get your muscle groups taped up and be set for three or four days with the kt tape itself.
After your time being taped is over, removing it is simple and non-invasive. The biggest side effects you’ll see from using kt tape is possibly irritated skin.
You’ll see benefits like improved circulation and faster muscle recovery after you’ve taped trouble areas.
Kt tape is also a cost-effective way to recover from your latest workout or workday.
The initial investment might be higher but you’ll be able to easily and effectively recover without the need for chemical intervention.
The tape is waterproof and will stay on your skin for days to provide support.
Whether you’re a professional athlete or you just feel sore after a hard workout, taping up your trouble areas is a great way to aid in your recovery!
Work with your physical therapist or doctor to find the best way to use this product so you can get moving and get back to your life.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost