As a physiotherapist, I use many different modalities and therapeutic tools to help my patients recover. One of the tools that gets questioned a lot is the K-tape (also known as neuro-proprioceptive tape or kinesiotape). Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:
1. What is K-Tape?
K-tape is a water resistant, breathable, elastic cotton tape. Its design and properties allows freedom of movement, long wearability and a great level of comfort.
K-tape can be applied to most body part and is a form of supportive therapy that goes home with the patient and which will work for as long as the tape remains on the body.
2. How will K-Taping help me in my recovery?
The main effects and functions of K-taping are:
a) Improvement of muscle function
Depending on the condition to treat, the therapist can apply the K-tape in a way to facilitate muscle contraction or to inhibit muscle hypertonicity.
b) Support of joint function
- The taping technique can offer passive support and improve joint positioning.
- K-taping can improve joint proprioception (and normalize muscle function through improved proprioception)
*Proprioception: Deep sensibility. Our perception/awareness of the position and movement of the body in space.
c) Elimination of circulatory impairments
Inflammation is frequently present with injuries. This inflammation causes congestion of the tissues. Application of the K-tape has a lifting effect on the skin, therefore creating more space between the skin and the subcutaneous tissue. This facilitates reduction of oedema, improves lymphatic drainage and blood circulation.
d) Pain reduction
Adhesion of the K-tape to the skin stimulates the skin receptors. With these skin receptors sharing a similar afferent nerve input as the pain receptors, the pain message relayed to the brain is disturbed, thus creating analgesia. This is the same principle as rubbing a painful area to reduce pain sensation.
3. Does the color make a difference?
No, the color does not make a difference. Each different colored tape have exactly the same structure and properties (stretching capacity, thickness, …). However, some practitioners may choose a certain colored tape to promote a desired effect based on color theory. In other words, red being considered a stimulating color can be chosen to facilitate muscle activation. In contrast, a blue tape could be put on a hypertonic muscle as this color is believed to have a more calming effect.
"K-Tape, the physiotherapist's Duct Tape" - Michelle ;P
Information source: Kumbrink, B. (2014). K-Taping (2nd edition). Dortmund (Germany): Springer.