Continuing Professional Development: How Kinesio Tape Works

Recently,  I attended a two day level 1 and 2 course on Kinesio Taping at the Canberra Institute of Technology in Bruce. I have met the course presenter, Tuay (Twee) Bridges, twice before.  As usual I was wowed by her insight, knowledge and experience of all things anatomical, assessment wise and her high level of clinical reasoning. To watch her work and see the results she gets from Kinesio tape is inspiring to me.

She stated that the number of jaw problems that she had fixed by taping and strengthening the big toe muscle (Flexor Halliux Longus for anatomy lovers!) was uncanny. I myself, in the last three years have witnessed things that look like virtual miracles when the injured area is carefully assessed and Kinesio tape is applied to acute and chronic conditions.

Kinesio tape was developed 35 years ago by Dr Kenso in Japan. It gained in popularity after the 2008 Olympic Games when it was worn by thousands of athletes, allowing them to perform at their best despite overtraining injuries.  

Kinesio tape is a coloured elastic tape that works its magic via the nervous system. The contact of the tape with skin alters the way the brain ‘reads’ the muscles and fascia in problematic areas. The tape has an elastic recoil effect where both ends of the tape pull together, providing electrical messages through receptors in the skin.

The brain reads this ‘new’ information and sends out new signals to the muscles and tendons to alter their length and tension. This allows more proficient healing.  Kinesio tape is extremely useful for injuries involving muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve and lymphatic vessels. 

Kinesio tape can be used in the same way that rigid strapping tape is used and stay on for much longer timeframes as well as get wet with sweating and showering. Kinesio taping supports the body while allowing it to move in its natural elastic way. 

I have been using Kinesio tape as part of my remedial massage treatments to aid in the treatment lasting longer and ultimately being more successful. For example, painful shoulder movements due to an inflamed subacromial bursa (fluid sack in the shoulder that tendons move across) can disappear once the short or weak shoulder muscles are identified and taped. The shoulder remains pain-free for as long as the tape stays on, which is usually 3-5 days.

I’ve experienced my own chronic neck pain simply disappear and my vision improve (due to less compression around the arteries in the neck from tight muscles) immediately after the tape was applied. This area continue to improve day after day for as long as the tape was on.

I’ve witnessed a female who was never able to touch her toes, no matter how much stretching she did, achieve full hamstring length within 5 minutes after the tape was applied to her lattisimus dorsi (big back muscle)and her opposite glute max (buttock muscle) and her transverse abdominis (deep core abdominal muscle). 

When combined together, remedial massage, Kinesio taping, corrective stretching and strengthening exercises provide fantastic results for many kinds of bodily aches and pains. 

About Craig Honeybrook

Craig is the practice principal of Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy. He attained a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy degree in 2000 at Sydney University studying foot injuries in runners and anterior knee pain in cyclists. He has been working as a physiotherapist for over 20 years and moved to Canberra over 12 years ago. He has been consultant physiotherapist for Balmain Rugby League, Eastern Suburbs Rugby, Australian Track & Field and Brumbies Rugby. His special interests include lower limb biomechanics, spinal instabilities and malalignments, bike fitting, running assessments, shoulder injuries and knee injuries. Craig was a former international level middle distance runner but now enjoys endurance mountain biking achieving a 2nd placing in the 2010 World Solo 24 hour Mountain Bike Championships. He also enjoys skiing, swimming, kayaking, gym work and spending time with his family.