It’s Kinesiotape, a breathable, non-latex tape that can be stretched to 30-40% of its original length and has the same elasticity as your skin. It usually stays on for 3-5 days and can be worn in the water. Originally invented by a Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase, kinesiotape has actually been around for decades! It really came into the public eye during the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he donated 50,000 rolls of the tape to the Games and the famous American beach volleyball player, Kerri Walsh, was shown throughout magazines and on the internet with this curious black tape all over one of her shoulders. She had undergone rotator cuff surgery and needed a non-restrictive method of support and additional natural pain control in order to still perform at the Olympics.
The purpose of Kinesiotape is to increase circulation/lymphatic flow, decrease bruising/swelling and decrease fascial tension to the area it’s applied to by lifting the skin off of the affected area and giving more ‘breathing space’ to the muscle below it. Additionally, it can be used to decrease pain, increase proprioception and facilitate proper joint/muscle mechanics through stimulating large skin mechanoreceptors. By taping the skin (the largest organ in the body) it provides a stimulatory effect on the area and helps to provide information to the brain about the muscles and joints the tape applied to.
What can Kinesiotape be used for? It is great for back/neck pain, shoulder injuries, patellar tracking issues/meniscal (knee) pain, ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff/ shoulder pain, hip pain and more. Most conditions can benefit through having the tape applied in addition to other therapies (ie, chiropractic, massage) and a rehabilitation program that can be designed by your chiropractic doctor specifically for your complaint. One of the added bonuses of Kinesiotape is that it has a high safety profile in the sense that is has virtually no known dangers in it’s application besides possible skin irritation and not applying over an open wound.
References: 1) Trotter, L (2012) The evolution of kinesiology tape; more than pretty colors? Canadian Chiropractor. December 2012. 28-29. 2) Williams S, Whatman C, Hume PA, & Sheerin K (2012). Kinesio-Taping in treatment and prevention of sports injuries; a meta-analysis of the evidence for its effectiveness. Sports Medicine. 42(2). 153-164
By Dr. Sasha Zevenhuizen