Have you seen athletes (such as runners, weightlifters in the gym, or beach volleyball players) wearing colored ribbons (mainly blue or black) on some parts of their bodies? These strips of colors are a kind of neuromuscular bandage and are applicable in all types of patients (although mostly those suffering from sports injuries), including those suffering from chronic pain.
KT Tape is a kinesiological tape that serves to prevent some sports injuries as well as treat those that are ongoing. Manufacturers say it can relieve pain without reducing the freedom of movement of the body parts in order to guarantee a quick recovery of aching or injured joints and muscles.
We tested it. We admit that we do not know exactly how it works, but we felt it made a difference. It might be placebo, but if it is, that is just fine.
Along with foam rollers, a good stretching program, ice, compression tights, and the occasional visit to your chiro or sports therapist, we think KT Tape has a place in the fitness and health regiment for most runners and other weekend athletes.
Let’s take a look at the main benefits of this bandage and the ways you can apply it.
The KT tape we used for our testing was this one, available from Amazon.
Some benefits of using KT Tape
No matter what physical activity you are into, or even if you decide to do a random game of pickup basketball, you are always at risk of injuries or pain. That’s where KT Tape comes in – to help you with its features such as lightweight, comfort and efficiency, as well as adaptability. You can use it for dozens of common injuries or general soreness in your shoulders, ankles, legs, for back pain, and other musculo-skeleton issues. KT Tape has a few things that other therapy methods might not:
- Allows the release of moisture.
- It moves comfortably with the body tissue (it stretches like elastic rubber and does not prevent movements of the person).
- It is water resistant.
- It is low-profile on the body.
The most common uses of KT Tape are athletic because of its efficiency and quality. The situations it most tends to be used in seem to be:
- Relieve cramps in the legs, offering pain relief.
- To Support foot muscles.
- To hold the kneecap and keep it in place during sports activities.
- Protect damaged tissue in any joint.
Of course, there are other uses, but they will depend on the injury you have and the recommendations of your trusted doctor.
How to Apply KT Tape
For your neuromuscular bandage to work, you need mainly the right bandage and a proper placement technique. We are going to share some popular techniques for application, but there are still many more. The best choice of bandage and placement will always depend on what type of injury you have and where the injury is located.
- One piece above the middle of the muscle or point of pain, known as the technique in I.
- Two pieces around the middle of the muscle, known as the technique in Y.
- Two pieces from a central point around the middle of the muscle, known as the X technique.
Clearly, the techniques and areas of application will always vary depending on the injury you have. However, there are some basic instructions that you must follow in a disciplinary way for the bandage to be durable and successful, and they must be followed in the following order:
- Skin without fat and without hair. It isn’t always necessary for the skin to be completely shaved, but the less hair there is on the skin, the more effective the bandage will be. Also, it’s important that the skin hasn’t been treated with lotions or creams or is sweaty. The success of the bandage will depend on these basic conditions being met.
- Correct measurement. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to measure the length of the bandage properly, putting the muscle in tension. Depending on the case you can add 2cms more than the required length, since it’s better to have more length. Any excess can be trimmed if necessary.
- Tips of the band. When you cut the bandage, you should round the tips to preventing future rubbing with clothes (this way the bandage will last much longer).
- Anchors are placed when you stretch, no matter what technique you use.
- Gently rub the bandage when you place it. The heat will help to stick it better, and will ensure the bandage will be more durable.
- The bandage sticks only once. If you make a mistake you can’t simply take it off and try again. If you miscalculated or misplaced the bandage, it’s better to discard it and start over with a new one.
- It’s normal for the first 15 minutes to feel an uncomfortable and perhaps unpleasant sensation where the bandage has been placed. After that period, those sensations should disappear. If they continue, then you need to remove the bandage.
- For your bandage to last even longer after being placed, you can dry it lightly with a hair dryer after showering, so you will eliminate moisture faster. But beware: one or two passes with the blower is more than enough. If you exceed that, you could damage your bandage.
- To remove the bandage, you should pull the tape gently from the origin anchor to the end (never the opposite way or you will irritate the skin). In some cases, you can also apply a little water to soften and facilitate removal.
Although many people call this type of bandage a ‘second skin’, you must remember that after a few days, they lose their effectiveness. It’s best to change your KT tape bandage every 3-4 days. If you don’t follow these basic instructions correctly then your bandage is likely to not provide the benefits that come with wearing one.
There is no doubt why many athletes use this method to relieve muscle pain and as a preventative measure: because of its effectiveness, adaptability and comfort. It’s a type of bandage that doesn’t require immobilizing the parts of your body to be able to heal, and it is easy enough to keep a roll or two in your gym bag just in case you need it. On the contrary, it allows you to move freely while it does its work. The key for this bandage to correctly heal you is an appropriate application (and of course to know how to maintain it). A doctor can apply it to you, but you can also do it yourself following the recommendations that we have provided here and by looking for more specific ones on the internet which suit your particular injury. Remember to follow the basic instructions and your pain and injuries will be gone sooner rather than later.