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What Is Elastic Tape & How Does It Work?

While taping as a therapeutic technique has been used since around the 1800’s, elastic taping, such as Kinesiotape (KT) and Rock Tape, have recently become quite popular in the rehabilitation industry. It is commonly used to treat or prevent muscle and joint related injuries such as sprains and strains, as well as tendinitis. 

Elastic taping has been designed to encourage the natural healing process of the body by providing support and stability to affected muscles and joints. This type of taping doesn’t restrict the movement of the body and can prolong the benefits of manual therapy performed by rehabilitation specialists, including physiotherapists. 

What is Elastic Taping?
Kinesiotape and Rock Tape are types of elastic taping which stretch up to 140% of their original length. They are composed of cotton, elastic filaments, and highly durable adhesive glue that is both latex-free and waterproof, which provides tactile and mechanical stimulation. 

Elastic taping involves applying bandages composed of elastic and adherent material to the affected muscle in the stretch position, starting at the origin of the muscle and continuing until its insertion. Once applied, the tape is then rubbed to activate the pressure sensitive adhesive. 

Benefits of Elastic Taping
When elastic tape is correctly applied to the affected muscle, it lifts the skin to create a small space between the muscle and dermis layers, which reduces pressure on the injured muscles, helping to reduce pain and decrease localized acute inflammation, while allowing smooth muscle movements. Additionally, by lifting the skin, it stimulates the removal of waste products and increases oxygen supply to the affected muscle, and may induce recovery of muscle strength.

Contraindications to Elastic Taping
While elastic tape is latex-free, can be worn for several days at a time, is safe for many patients, and successfully treats various conditions, there are certain contraindications that you must be aware of before using elastic taping, including:

  • Allergy to taping materials
  • Compromised circulation and/or sensation in the affected area.
  • Thrombosis
  • Open wounds, irritation, or infection of the area to be taped
  • History of hypersensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions (psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis).

If you’re considering using elastic taping for an injury that you’ve suffered, it’s advisable to consult your physiotherapist to ensure that it’s the right option for your condition. Further, they can apply it for you so that it’s applied correctly, allowing you to experience optimal benefit of this therapy.  

If you’ve suffered an injury, you may benefit from physiotherapy, which will involve an individualized treatment plan that is tailored specifically to your injury. You will work with your physiotherapist to set goals and track your progress as you work through your treatment plan. 

Undergoing a physiotherapy assessment is one of the best ways to determine if elastic taping will be beneficial for your injury. After the assessment, our physiotherapists will create a program that is specific to your needs, and set you on the right path toward injury recovery. 

1. What is the Kinesio Taping Method? | Kinesio Tape. Kinesiotaping.com. https://kinesiotaping.com/about/what-is-the-kinesio-taping-method/. Published 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.

2. Kirmizigil, B., Chauchat, J., Yalciner, O., Iyigun, G., Angin, E., & Baltaci, G. The Effectiveness of Kinesio Taping in Recovering from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: A Cross-Over Study. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2019; 1–28.

3. Matheus, J., Zille, R., Gomide, L., Lemos, T., Carregaro, R., & Shimano, A. Comparison of the mechanical properties of therapeutic elastic tapes used in sports and clinical practice. Physical Therapy in Sport. 2016; 24, 74–78. 

4. Akbas, E., Atay, AO., Yuksel, I. The effects of additional Kinesio Taping over exercise in the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2011; 45(5): 335-341.

5. Thelen, M., Dauber, J., Stoneman, P. The clinical efficacy of kinesio tape for shoulder pain: a randomized, double-blinded, clinical trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008; 38(7): 389-395.

6. Pourahmadi, M., Bagheri, R., Jannati, E., Ebrahimi, I., Sarrafzadeh, J., & Mohsenifar, H. Effect of Elastic Therapeutic Taping on Abdominal Muscle Endurance in Patients With Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled, Single-Blind, Crossover Trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2018; 41(7): 609-620.

7. PROVe: Physiotherapy Rehabilitation for Osteoporotic Vertebral Fracture. Manual Therapy: Taping Guidelines. Appendix 5. https://research.ndorms.ox.ac.uk/prove/documents/manual/assessmentForms/Taping_Guidelines.pdf Published 2013. Accessed April 10, 2019.

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