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Ever seen the coloured tapes that athletes wear on their skin? If you have, you've probably wondered what they are. It is what sports specialists call a kinesiology tape, also known as an elastic therapeutic tape, ora Kinesio tape, k-tape, or KT. It is a thin cotton strip that has an acrylic adhesive. It sticks onto the skin and mimics the physical qualities of the skin. It is made in a manner that it has the same weight and thickness of the epidermis and it replicates the skin’s inherent elastic properties. So, it can be worn without binding, constricting, or any restriction of movement.
The question that needs to be addressed is what is it that is therapeutic about this tape? The tape can be used in different ways, and the method of use will determine the outcome. If applied unstretched over stretched skin, typically above an injured muscle, the tape will cause the skin to form convolutions that lift the skin. These convolutions encourage regeneration of the injured tissue by relieving pressure exerted by the swelling. It also decompresses the pain receptor nerves, leading to a decreased pain sensation. Applied in a resting position, the tape corrects the alignment of weak muscles and facilitates joint movement.
In the long history of physiotherapy, kinesio tapes are a relatively new modality. They were developed by KenzoKase, a Japanese/ American chiropractor, somewhere back in the 1970s. They were used by various Olympians and saw a surge in popularity after they were donated to Olympic athletes in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and 2012 London Summer Olympics.
The k-tape is believed to provide pain management, injury treatment, injury prevention, enhanced performance, and an increased range of motion—all that an athlete can dream of! The thin, elastic cotton can stretch well up to 140% from its original length. The latex-free material with acrylic adhesive is heat-activated. The cotton fibres lead to evaporation of any moisture, allowing a longer wear time, up to even 4 days. Since KT is both waterproof and breathable, it can be worn while showering and even swimming.
Certain precautions should be taken for optimal usage of kinesio tapes, and they are as follows:
1. In case of skin irritation, remove the tape immediately and wash the area with warm soapy water.
2. Do not apply the tape to a rash or an irritated skin patch or on scrapes, cuts, burns, sunburns, etc.
3. Remove local body hair, else it might limit the adhesion.
4. Though the tape is waterproof, ensure that perspiration has completely stopped before you apply it.
5. While using a roll of tape, measure it exactly; don’t be casual with the scissors.
6. An insider tip is to round all the edges of the tape in order to prevent premature peeling.
7. Avoid touching the adhesive side of the tape before applying it.
8. Gently rub the tape up and down after applying it in order to activate the heat-sensitive glue.
9. Avoid contact with moisture for an hour. So, wait for an hour before you hit the gym or go for a swim.
10. You do not need replace the tape just because it's wet. In order to dry the tape after exercising, swimming, or a shower, pat it gently with a towel.
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