You might be wondering what those tapes many athletes wear are for, sometimes in bright colours and sometimes simply plain white. You’ve probably seen these bands utilized by everyone from weekend warriors to professional athletes to non-athletes who needed assistance with their recovery.
Even while many people are familiar with the terms “taping,” “athletic taping,” “sports taping,” and “kinesiology taping,” they frequently have no idea what these terms represent or how or when to apply particular taping techniques in the context of treating injuries. This blog seeks to clarify the differences between traditional athletic taping and kinesiology taping techniques.
KINESIO TAPE AND ATHLETIC TAPE: HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
There is little question that kinesiology tape has earned a place alongside standard athletic tape. Now the question is, when should you use kinesiology tape, and when should you use standard athletic tape?
To start, it should be clear that kinesiology tape is not meant to take the place of sports tape. Both tapes are extremely useful in treating sports injuries, although having very distinct purposes.
1. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS AND COMPOSITION:
The two tape compositions share one thing in common: they are both typically constructed of cotton.
Traditional sports tape is thick, non-elastic, and only available in rolls. It is often white. If not rapidly removed, it might retain moisture for long periods, irritating the skin. In addition, regular sports tape often has a very strong adhesive backing that, when applied directly to the skin, can seriously irritate or tear down the skin. Because of this, a non-adhesive pre-wrap is typically utilized to avoid having the tape come into direct contact with the skin. This prevents the tape from attaching to the skin and enables it to stick to the pre-wrap.
Kinesiology tapes are available in rolls and precut applications for various body parts. Additionally, it is available in a more extensive range of colours. Kinesiology tape is thin and elastic. Due to its high porosity, it can quickly dry after swimming, sweating, or taking a shower. Kinesiology tape employs an acrylic adhesive that is considerably kinder and almost eliminates skin discomfort. The suppleness of the tape and the hypoallergenic adhesive enables kinesiology tape to be pleasantly worn for up to 5 days per application.
Traditional sports tape is applied in overlapping layers and tightly encircled around an injured joint or muscle until the area is immobilized. However, if used for an extended period, the compression caused by this approach could worsen an injury by decreasing blood and lymphatic fluid flow. Sport tapings are, therefore, typically applied just before an activity and taken off right away when it is over.
On the other hand, kinesiology tape is practically never entirely wrapped around any region of the body, which is a significant difference. Instead, it is placed over and around the edges of a muscle group or joint that is hurt. The suppleness of kinesiology tape improves lymphatic fluid clearance and blood flow, making it genuinely therapeutic. In addition, athletes can continue to train and compete using kinesiology tape because there are no restrictions within a safe range of motion.
Athletic taping immobilizes the injured muscle or joint to provide support and stability. Because the athletic tape is less flexible than other types of tape, it will prevent you from moving into undesirable positions and won’t allow you to move out of a specific alignment. This taping would be preferred in cases of significant injury where any movement of the affected area could result in additional damage. Traditional taping is also recommended when joint instability is so severe that a tight tape job must provide extra support.
Kinesiology tape’s flexible nature offers cues for better posture, muscle activation, and joint alignment and position. The tape will stretch as your body assumes these postures, giving you a cue to loosen its hold and return to your healthier alignment and posture. In addition, kinesiology tape offers exceptional therapeutic effects in recovery and rehabilitation because of the tape’s elasticity. For example, it can quickly reduce oedema and inflammation and hasten healing since it stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF ATHLETIC TAPE OR KINESIO TAPE IS BEST FOR YOU?
The best method to determine what is wrong with your posture or joint alignment is to visit a physical therapist. They receive training in various cutting and application methods to maximize the tape’s usefulness and serve its intended function.
Athletic tape is ideal if you’re seeking more excellent stability, similar to a temporary brace. Compared to kinesiology tape, sports tape is stronger, stickier, and decreases the range of motion at a joint more. For active injuries or hypermobile joints, it is the ideal option. It can be helpful to apply an underwrap to lessen skin irritability. To avoid the onset of dermatitis, the tape should typically be removed after three days. Individual differences still exist in this case.
Kinesiology tape works best if you’re trying to retrain your body to use the appropriate muscles and keep a specific posture or alignment. It provides many apparent benefits when used in a clinical context. First, because it is primarily made of cotton, it breathes and doesn’t need to be kept dry in the shower. Due to its high degree of flexibility, it is excellent for joints like the knees and others that need to move. Finally, kinesiology tape helps manage oedema and bruises, preventing injuries and rehab.
Therefore, classic sports tape techniques are still the best choice if you have an injury and need to limit mobility and muscle activation. While if you wish to alleviate muscle stress, reduce swelling, and maintain joint functionality, you can pick your favourite colour or design and put on your kinesiology tape.