Have you seen people exercising or participating in an activity or sport with a strip on their shoulder, body or even upper and lower limb? What did you think it was? Naively, for the first time at seeing a man running on a sidewalk, and as he sped past me, I thought he had an interesting black ‘tattoo’. It was elongated and stretched from the back of his knee for about 10 inches. The ‘tattoo’ pointed at the top and bottom with a curvaceous design that split and converged at both ends.
A few days later, I spoke to a friend that is a regular marathon runner. I shared with him what I saw and he almost fell off his chair in laughter. At that point, I felt silly. I found out that the ‘tattoo’ is a tape. And this started my understanding of tape.
I obtained a roll of tape – more correctly called Kinesiology Tape or Taping (KT) – and made an effort to find out more about this interesting yet strange product.
The early adopters of taping were the Japanese, with Dr Kenso Kase being credited in developing KT methods in the 70s. The first users were the athletes of the Japanese Olympic team, and the use of tape spread to other professional athletes in Nihon (Land of the Rising Sun). KT received global attention during the 2008 Olympic Games after the ‘tattoo’ was seen on high-profile athletes. And thousands of roll of the tape were donated to 58 countries for use during the games.
The material is an elastic, therapeutic tape and it is used for treating sport injuries - preventing or minimising existing or recurring injuries, and for a variety of inflammatory conditions. KT supports injured muscles and joints. Its purpose is to relieve pain by lifting the skin, thereby encouraging improved blood and lymph flow. KT almost mimics our human skin in thickness and elasticity. The tape does not bind, constrict or restrict our physical movement.
Kinesiology Tape may help in the following ways:
Joint Proprioception Retraining
- Joint Alignment and Maltracking
- Joint Instability or Hypermobility
- Poor Posture: Round Shoulders, Slouched Spine
- Muscle Weakness
- Hypotonia - Low Muscle Tone
- Plantar Fasciitis
Soft Tissue Injuries
- Muscle Strains
- Ligament Sprains
- Haematoma (Bruising)
- Joint Swelling
- Shin splints
- Post-fracture support
I tried using the Tmax Kinesiology Tape. The product categorically states that it  prevents muscle and joint injury;  reduce neurology pain;  improve blood and lymph circulation. I took it to my physiotherapist that is skilled in putting on the tape. Since I had a nagging pain of plantar fasciitis (recurring after my football sessions on Saturday and Sunday where I will be limping), it made sense to give this KT a go on a Friday. The physiotherapist fastened it like a cross, and she stated that she was stretching it about 20%. [Caveat: unless you are skilled at taping, you are advised to seek the service of a certified tape practitioner].
I had my weekend bash at football and played for a length of about 2.5 hours over the weekend. I felt that the tape adjusted to the movement of my skin, and kept my heel area more firm as I moved vigorously while running and kicking the ball. On Saturday night, I should have been severely limping but I had no crippling effect. There was a miniscule tinge of pain but nothing that would have me complaining. So I thought a second bout of football on Sunday would fire up my plantar fasciitis. And to my amazement, there was nothing more than that same insignificant tinge of discomfort. This was not all that surprised me. On a Tuesday, I returned to the physiotherapist. She was thrilled to find out that the tape had overwhelmingly shut down the pain, and that the tape showed only 50% wear & tear. She highlighted that the Tmax KT is of very good quality for it to shoulder robust use, and from wet to dry over the many showers the tape had been exposed to.
I am on my second round of taping and the results are truly decent. It serves its purpose well and has provided great comfort from my nagging pain. I used to dread the post-effects of football and always set my work appointments that required walking toward a Tuesday; never a Monday. And this welcome relief has certainly made a marvellous difference. I can walk with comfort and ease than limp painfully at the start of the work week.
The Tmax KT is made in Korea, and of 96% cotton and 4% spandex, with a length of 5 metres and width of 5 cm. It is elastic, breathable, water-resistant and latex-free.