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Kinesiology tape, or K-tape, has worked its way into the sports and fitness industries over the last several years. But what is it? And what does it do? 
 
You may have noticed athletes of varying abilities performing with brightly coloured tape over different parts of their bodies. Sometimes they can look like an extra in a sci-fi movie such is the extent of the wondrous patterns of tape. If you’ve witnessed this then you have seen K-tape! 
 
Kinesiology tape is a stretchy, sticky, cotton and nylon tape that's applied to the skin to give light support and promote movement. The tape’s medical-grade adhesive is also water-resistant and strong enough to stay on for three to five days, even while you work out or take showers. 
 
Such is the extent of its popularity, we have probably all looked at it at some point and simply thought, “Why?” 
 
Well, the why is actually quite simple, or at least the concept of it is. A tape for the body designed to be cut down into different shapes and sizes to suit the muscle and required effect, aimed at supporting the muscles, lessening pain, reducing inflammation, reducing swelling, and improving movement and proprioception. 
 
When the tape is applied to your body, it recoils slightly, gently lifting your skin. It is believed that this helps to create a microscopic space between your skin and the tissues underneath it. 

Where Does K-Tape Come From? 

K-tape was originally developed as far back as the 1970s by a Japanese chiropractor named Dr Kenzo Kase. His idea was to develop a new style of taping that would be superior to the traditional methods such as the zinc oxide technique. His idea behind updating the method was to help in aspects such as range of movement and the healing process which he believed were both inhibited by the previous method. The new Kinesio tape he developed was believed to be an improvement in helping the damaged tissues and range of movement and encouraging lymphatic drainage. 
 
K-tape really came to prominence to the world of sport in the 1988 Olympics, as 50,000 rolls were donated to 58 countries, giving the tape the stage to really be noticed on a large scale in the athletic community. 
 
However, it wasn’t really introduced on a bigger scale until 1995 in the U.S and 1998 in Europe. Some would even argue that it didn’t really take off until it was seen heavily in the 2012 Olympics, making it a relatively new idea to the majority. 

Does K-Tape Actually Work? 

Despite its rise in popularity in recent years, it still is yet to win over everyone. This is because although claiming to provide a series of benefits, it’s still yet to have been proven with any clinical evidence with some more sceptical people claiming that the tape merely has a placebo effect on the wearer. 
 
Rather the explanation for its effectiveness seems to be attributed to something called “the gate control theory of pain”. This is when a non-painful stimulus to the body causes fewer pain messages to the brain. It seems that whatever the reason for its success, it certainly seems to have won over the majority. It’s rare now in modern sports and even down the local gym that you don’t see at least one person making use of K-tape. 
 
So, whether it’s for you or not is down to trying it for yourself, maybe it’s a placebo and maybe it’s not, as long as it works for you - who cares?! 
 
Tagged as: injury prevention
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