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Kinesiology Taping for Rehabilitation & Sports Performance

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How SpiderTech Gentle Prevents Skin Irritation

posted by Tape Expert @ 1:05 PM
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spider Tech Gentle Kinesiology Tape for Sensitive Skin

My last post introduced an exciting new product to the kinesiology taping industry–the first kinesiology tape for individuals with sensitive skin. Made by the makers of industry-leading SpiderTech Tape,  the new product line is called SpiderTech Gentle. This post will examine the issue of skin irritation with kinesiology tape and discuss the features of Spider Tech Gentle tape that minimize this problem.

What Causes Skin Irritation with Kinesiology Tape?

All of the leading kinesio tape brands utilize a hypoallergenic acrylic adhesive that is applied to the back of the tape in a wave or tread pattern. The effect is that of ‘ridges’ of adhesive that adhere to the skin, with small troughs in between to channel away moisture. As the body moves, the ridges of adhesive pull lightly on the skin’s surface, setting up a sensory neurofeedback loop that is responsible for the dramatic pain relief benefits associated with kinesio taping.

While the vast majority of kinesiology tape users never experience skin reactions, this pulling action may be enough to generate redness or itching in individuals with very sensitive or fragile skin. (For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see my post, Kinesiology Tape – Avoiding Skin Irritation.) Other individuals with fragile skin may do fine while the tape is on, but experience problems from damage to skin cells when the tape is removed.

What Makes SpiderTech Gentle Different?stratagel_adhesive

SpiderTech’s patented Stratagel™ adhesive is a moist, gel-like substance that can adhere uniformly across the skin’s surface. This smooth, adhesive layer lacks the ridges that can cause skin irritation.

Less Skin Damage when Spider Tech Gentle is Removed

Skin Cell DamageThe ridges of solid acrylic adhesive material on conventional kinesiology tape adhere strongly to the top surface of the skin. Individuals with sensitive or fragile skin, such as the elderly, infants and children, may experience damage or removal of skin cells when the tape is removed.

The moist, gel-like surface of the StrataGel adhesive adheres smoothly to the skin’s surface, but is able to separate from the skin more easily when the tape is removed, greatly reducing the incidence of skin cell removal, skin cell damage, redness and irritation. It can be comfortably worn for up to 3 days, followed by immediate reapplication if desired.

SpiderTech Gentle kinesiology tape for sensitive skin is available in both rolls and precut kinesiology taping applications.

Kinesiology Tape – Avoiding Skin Irritation

posted by Tape Expert @ 11:21 AM
Friday, February 26, 2010

applying_kinesiology_tapeKinesiology tape is made from cotton with a medical grade acrylic adhesive. It is latex-free and non-medicated, making it hypoallergenic for virtually everyone except those with allergies to any type of adhesive. With this said, however, a small percentage of kinesiology tape users do experience irritation, itching or redness after wearing kinesiology tape. The purpose of this blog is to examine the most common causes of skin irritation, and present some possible solutions.

True allergic reactions to kinesio tape are rare, so most rashes come from simple skin irritation. Following are some of the most common causes:

1. Too Much Stretch in the Tape – When kinesiology tape is applied with a great amount of stretch, it pulls on the skin as it attempts to contract back to its unstretched state. If only a small piece of tape is being used (as in the RockTape Pain Zapper technique), this doesn’t usually create a problem. When larger areas of skin are covered with extremely stretched tape, however, the potential for irritation or even blistering is much greater.

Solution: Be careful not to overstretch the tape when you apply it. Kinesiology tape is already stretched 25% on the paper backing, so an effective stretch can be achieved even when applying with “tape off tension.”  In general, the larger the area being taped, the less additional stretch is necessary during application

2. Applying Stretch to the Anchor Ends – The anchor ends of the tape are the final 1-2″ of every strip. When these ends are stretched during application, they will pull on the skin with every movement. After a period of time, this can cause redness and irritation.

Solution: Regardless of the amount of stretch used in each strip of tape, the final 1-2″ should always be applied with absolutely no stretch.

3. Hair Follicle Irritation in Unshaved Areas – The benefits of kinesiology taping are achieved via direct contact between the tape and the skin. A properly-applied kinesiology tape application provides continual sensory input on the skin’s surface. If the taped area has significant amounts of hair, this sensory stimulation is transmitted to the hair follicles, which can become irritated.

Solution: Clip excess amounts of hair close to skin level before applying kinesiology tape.

4. Skin Irritation in Freshly Shaved Areas – Shaving removes the uppermost layer of skin, exposing fresh skin for the first time. Because this skin hasn’t had time to “toughen,” it is more easily irritated, especially if the area is not shaved regularly.

Solution: To avoid hair follicle irritation from shaving, try clipping the hair close to the skin rather than shaving. Clipping leaves the top layer of skin intact, decreasing the likelihood of irritation.

If the above precautions have been taken and skin irritation persists, the following products have been found to be helpful when applied to the skin prior to taping: Liquid Milk of Magnesia, Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel, Maalox, Skincote and Tens Clean Coat Skin Wipes.

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Kinesiology Tape or Athletic Tape?

posted by Tape Expert @ 5:06 PM
Thursday, December 17, 2009

tape_comparisonThere’s no longer any doubt that kinesiology tape has earned a spot alongside traditional athletic tape in the first aid kits of trainers, coaches and athletes. Now the question that’s arising is, “When should I use traditional athletic tape and when should I use kinesiology tape?”

The first thing to make clear is that kinesiology tape is not intended to replace sports tape. The two types of tape have completely different functions, and both have important applications in the treatment of sports injuries. The purpose of this post is to help new users understand the difference between the two types of tape, as well as when to use each.


rocktape_colors_verticalTraditional sports tape comes only in rolls and is usually white. Kinesiology tape comes in both rolls and in precut applications for different parts of the body. Kinesiology tape also comes in a wider variety of colors, the most common being black, blue, pink and beige. A new kinesiology tape called RockTape, has combined fashion with function by offering 12 colors and patterns, including biohazard, black and white cow pattern, logo tape, and white and yellow “instant message” tape!


Traditional athletic tape is thick and non-elastic. It can retain moisture for extended periods of time, which can cause skin irritation if not removed quickly. Kinesiology tape, on the other hand, is thin and stretchy, with properties almost identical to human skin. Because it is so porous, it releases moisture easily, allowing it to dry quickly after sweating, swimming or showering.


The adhesive backing on regular sports tape is typically very strong, and can cause significant skin irritation or breakdown if applied directly to the skin. For this reason, a non-adhesive pre-wrap is generally used to prevent direct contact between the tape and the skin. This allows the tape to adhere to the pre-wrap and to itself, without actually sticking to the skin. Kinesiology tape uses a much gentler, acrylic adhesive that almost eliminates the incidence of skin irritation. The combination of this hypoallergenic adhesive with the elasticity of the tape allows kinesiology tape to be comfortably worn for up to 5 days per application.

Application Techniques

taped_ankleConventional athletic tape is wrapped tightly around an injured joint or muscle in overlapping layers until the area is virtually immobilized. The compression created by this technique reduces circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid, which could cause additional damage to an injured area if left on too long. For this reason, sports tapings are generally done a short time before an activity, and removed immediately following its completion.

ankle_spider_pinkThis differs greatly from kinesiology tape, which is almost never wrapped completely around any part of the body. Instead, it is applied directly over and around the borders of an injured muscle group or joint. The elasticity actually enhances both blood flow and removal of lymphatic fluid, which allows kinesiology tape to provide true therapeutic benefits. Because there are no limitations within a safe range of motion, athletes can continue to train and/or compete while wearing kinesiology tape.


The main function of regular sports tape is to provide support and stability to an injured joint or muscle group by immobilizing it. This would be the taping method of choice in cases of severe injury, where any movement of the injured area could result in additional damage. Traditional taping is also indicated in situations where joint instability is so extreme that a tight tape job is necessary to provide additional support.

The elastic properties of kinesiology tape make it unsuitable in situations where extreme support and stabilization are required. On the other hand, this same elasticity allows kinesiology tape to provide outstanding therapeutic benefits in the areas of recovery and rehabilitation. Because it increases both blood flow and lymphatic drainage, a kinesiology tape application can rapidly relieve swelling and inflammation, as well as accelerate the healing process. Other properties allow it to relieve both acute and chronic pain, which all injured athletes welcome. As pain and inflammation recede, normal muscle activation can be restored, returning strength and coordination to injured areas.

A new, promising application for kinesiology tape is the possibility of safe, natural performance enhancement in healthy athletes. Check out my previous posts on Rock Tape to learn more about this exciting development.

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Kinesiology Taping: To Stretch or Not to Stretch?

posted by Tape Expert @ 4:33 PM
Sunday, November 15, 2009

kinesiology_tape_rollsOne of the features that makes kinesiology tape different from other types of therapeutic tape is its elasticity. Kinesiology tape is designed to stretch up to 40% beyond its “resting” length (i.e., its length with the paper backing still applied). The amount of stretch in the tape can be manipulated according to the condition and needs of the individual being taped. In addition to varying the amount of stretch in the tape, the practitioner can also choose to apply the tape with the muscle in either a stretched or relaxed position.

While these options greatly increase the spectrum of benefits that can be accomplished with kinesiology taping, they can also greatly increase the confusion level for those new to kinesiology taping. The most commonly asked questions are:

  • When should I stretch the tape and when should I not stretch it?
  • If I stretch the tape, how much should I stretch it?
  • Do I stretch the entire application or only certain parts?
  • When should I stretch the muscle and when should I not stretch the muscle?
  • Should I stretch both the tape and the muscle, just the tape or just the muscle?

Although the best way to learn the answers to these questions is to take a course in kinesiology taping, there are some basic rules of thumb that can provide some clarity to the issue of stretching.

easy-to-applyIf unsure of how much to stretch the tape, it is better to understretch than overstretch. Kinesiology tape is stretched approximately 15% before it is applied to the paper backing. Therefore, benefits will be felt, even if the tape is applied as the backing is removed, with no additional stretch. Overstretching, on the other hand, can lead to skin irritation that may require removing the tape prematurely.

When a kinesiology taping application indicates stretching the tape, the anchor ends of the tape should always be applied with no stretch. Only the body of the application should utilize tape in the stretched position. This will help prevent skin irritation or over-stimulation of the injured area.

Structural or Mechanical Applications – Stretch the Tape, not the Muscle
elbow_application_step_3There are two main purposes for a structural or mechanical kinesiology taping: (1) to provide support for an injured muscle or joint, (2) to provide sensory feedback to discourage overstretching or over-contraction of an injured area. This is accomplished by stretching the tape and applying it while the muscles are held in a neutral or slightly contracted position. The amount of stretch can vary depending on the degree of support desired, but the stretch should never exceed 80% of the available stretch in the tape. The goal is to provide an “end feel” that will prevent moving beyond a safe range of motion.

Neurosensory (Pain Relief) Applications – Stretch the Muscle, not the Tape
elbow_application_step_4The purpose of a neurosensory or space correction kinesiology taping is to create more space directly above the area of pain and inflammation, reducing pressure and irration on the pain receptors. For this purpose, the muscle should be stretched to its maximum pain-free range and the tape should be applied directly from the backing with no additional stretch. After the tape is applied and the muscle is returned to its resting position, convolutions should be seen in the tape over the injured area. In addition to reducing pressure on the pain receptors, this type of taping creates an ongoing low level stimulation that helps to override the pain signals going to the brain.

Lymphatic or Microcirculatory Applications – Stretch the Muscle AND the Tape
lymph_application_step_4Microcirculatory applications are used to create areas of reduced pressure above the lymphatic channels in an injured area. This reduced pressure allows the lymphatic fluid responsible for localized swelling and edema to drain away through a nearby lymph duct. When properly applied, a rapid reduction of swelling occurs that is maintained as long as the tape remains on the body. For these purposes, the muscle is held in a stretched position while the tape is applied with a light stretch.

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Kinesiology Taping vs. Conventional Taping

posted by Tape Expert @ 12:08 PM
Sunday, October 18, 2009

tape_comparisonKinesiology taping and traditional athletic taping or strapping differ from each other in the following areas:
1. Composition of Tape
2. Method of Application
3. Wear Time
4. Therapeutic Function

Composition of Tape
While both types of tape are generally made from cotton, this is where the resemblance ends. Kinesiology tape is very thin and elastic, while traditional athletic tape is thicker and inflexible. Many athletic tapes contain other ingredients, including latex and zinc oxide, which can contribute to skin irritation and allergic reactions. Kinesiology tape is make from 100% high quality cotton, with a hypoallergenic acrylic adhesive.

Method of Application
athletic_tape_ankleConventional athletic tape is almost always  wrapped tightly around a joint or muscle group, completely enclosing the area in tape. A pre-wrap is generally required to help reduce skin irritation. Because there is no elasticity in the tape, this technique is used to immobilize or greatly reduce the range of motion of the injured area.

kinesio_tape_ankleKinesiology tape, on the other hand, is seldom wrapped completely around any part of the body. Instead, it may be applied across an injured area and/or along the boundaries of the injured joint or muscle group. This type of taping can be used to limit unhealthy movement patterns, but still allow full range of motion within healthy limits.

Wear Time
Because traditional athletic tape creates significant compression of injured tissues, it can limit both blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.  Skin irritation can also occur due to poor breathability, heavy adhesive and friction. Thus, it can only be worn for short periods of time. Because kinesiology tape is both flexible and breathable, one application can be worn for several days without skin irritation or other complications.

Therapeutic Function
Conventional athletic taping has only two functions – to provide support and/or to limit range of motion in injured or unstable joints and muscle groups. It does not have any therapeutic or rehabilitative benefits beyond these physical functions. Kinesiology taping, however, actually provides a number of therapeutic benefits. The benefits of this therapeutic tape include:
– pain relief
– reduction of inflammation, edema, swelling, bruising
– re-activation of inhibited muscle fibers
– accelerated recovery from intense exercise
– prevention/relief of cramps and spasms

The bottom line … for rigid support of injured or unstable joints, conventional athletic tape is indicated. For all other therapeutic requirements, kinesiology taping provides superior benefits.

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How to Apply Kinesiology Tape for Pain Relief

posted by Tape Expert @ 3:28 PM
Sunday, September 20, 2009

There are three basic kinesiology taping techniques, depending on the goal of the taping. Kinesiology tape can be applied to:
1. Relieve Pain
2. Reduce Swelling
3. Provide Support

Each of these three techniques uses a different combination of stretching the tape and/or stretching the muscles. This feature is one of the main things that separates kinesiology tape from regular athletic tape. This post will examine how to apply kinesiology tape for relief of acute or chronic pain.

The general principle for obtaining maximum pain relief is to STRETCH THE MUSCLE, NOT THE TAPE. The following image shows a SpiderTech Precut Hamstring Application about to be applied as the hamstring muscle group is held in a stretched position.


By placing the muscle in a position of maximum stretch during the tape application, the tape will appear puckered or wrinkled when the muscle is returned to its resting position. This is caused by a mechanical “lifting” of the upper layers of skin, increasing the space between the skin and the tissues below. This reduces pressure and irritation on the pain receptors, and also creates a slight counter-sensation that overrides the pain signals going to the brain.

Step 1: Apply the first section of tape (the anchor) with the muscle in an unstretched, resting position. This reduces the liklihood of discomfort or skin irritation and provides a secure anchor for the rest of the taping.

Step 2: Stretch the muscle to the limit of its pain-free range of motion. While holding this stretched position, apply the tape as the backing is removed. Do not stretch the tape as it is applied.

Step 3: Return the muscle to a resting position and rub tape briskly from the center toward the outside edges to activate the acrylic adhesive. The tape and the skin should now have a wrinkled or puckered appearance.

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Benefits of Kinesiology Taping, Part 4 – Neurosensory Benefits

posted by Tape Expert @ 1:51 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This is the fourth in a series of four postings detailing the “big 4″ benefits of kinesiology taping:
1. Psychological Benefits
2. Microcirculatory Benefits
3. Structural Benefits
4. Neurosensory Benefits
Today I’m going to focus on neurosensory benefits, or in simpler terms, kinesiology taping for pain relief.

Why Use Kinesiology Tape for Pain Relief?

back_pain_narrowRelief of pain is a goal in virtually all kinesiology tape applications. When a person is in pain, it affects their ability to function on many levels. One of the body’s natural protective responses to pain is to decrease both muscle tone and muscle activity. This automatically limits the ability of the muscle to function, protecting it from additional injury. While positive in many situations, this response can be detrimental for an athlete who wishes to continue training as he/she recovers from a minor injury.

The use of a neurosensory kinesiology taping application can relieve pain AND restore more normal muscle activation and function. This is accomplished through several mechanisms, including sensory gating to override pain stimuli.

How to Create a Neurosensory Kinesiology Taping Application
When applying kinesiology tape, the two factors that can be manipulated are the amount of stretch in the tape and the amount of stretch in the muscle. To maximize pain relief through kinesiology taping, it is important to STRETCH THE MUSCLE, NOT THE TAPE.

Remove the backing from the first 2″ of the tape and apply with NO STRETCH IN THE MUSCLE OR THE TAPE.  This lessens the likelihood of skin irritation and helps the tape adhere better. Rub briskly to activate the adhesive.

2. Stretch the injured muscle to the limit of its pain-free range. Continue peeling the backing from the tape, lightly pressing the tape against the skin as it comes off the backing paper.

3. When you get to the anchor end (the final 2″ of tape), place the muscle back into a neutral position and apply the final 2″ with no stretch in the muscle or the tape. In most cases, the tape will appear rippled after the muscle is released from the contracted position.

4. Rub tape briskly to activate adhesive.

With proper application, pain relief is usually immediate and typically lasts for the entire taping period.

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Benefits of Kinesiology Taping, Part 3 – Structural Benefits

posted by Tape Expert @ 11:59 AM
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This is the third in a series of four postings detailing the “big 4” benefits of kinesiology taping:
1. Psychological Benefits
2. Microcirculatory Benefits
3. Structural Benefits
4. Neurosensory Benefits
Today I’m going to focus on the structural benefits of kinesiology taping.

The Problem With Traditional Athletic Tape
knee_athletic_tape3In the field of traditional athletic taping, the amount of support provided by the tape is inversly proportional to the range of motion of the taped area. In other words, to achieve high levels of support for an injured area, the tape must be applied tightly, which dramatically reduces range of motion. This is a double-edged sword for athletes who wish to continue training and/or competing as their injuries heal. In some cases the restriction caused by the tape will not allow them to execute the necessary movements to continue in their sport. In other cases, an athlete may unconsciously compensate for the lack of movement in the taped area and end up with another injury!

What Makes Kinesiology Tape Special?
st_hand_applicationOne of the unique features of kinesiology tape is that it can provide structural support without limiting range of motion, as traditional athletic tape does. With the exception of serious injuries that require immobilization or restrictive support, this means that athletes can use kinesiology tape to safely continue to train and compete as their injuries heal. The “soft end feel” associated with a structural kinesiology taping application automatically reinforces proper movement patterns within a safe range of motion.

How to Create a Structural Kinesiology Taping Application
When applying kinesiology tape, the two factors that can be manipulated are the amount of stretch in the tape and the amount of stretch in the muscle. In the case of a structural application, you STRETCH ONLY THE TAPE, NOT THE MUSCLE. The only parts of the tape that are not stretched are the anchor ends – this lessens the liklihood of skin irritation and helps the tape adhere better. Following are the steps involved in a structural kinesiology tape application.

1. Remove the backing from the first 2″ of the tape and apply with NO STRETCH.  Rub briskly to activate the adhesive.

2. Remove the backing from the rest of the tape, and stretch the tape to the desired tension – the more support desired, the greater the stretch.
Important Note: You should not exceed 80% of the available stretch in the tape. If more support is required than can be provided by 80% stretch, you should be using traditional athletic tape.

3. Carefully holding the center part of the tape away from the skin, apply the final 2″ of the tape, with NO STRETCH. Rub briskly to activate the adhesive.

4. If desired, shorten the injured muscle by flexing or extending the joint in the appropriate direction. This will increase the sensory feedback from the tape, providing a physical reminder when an unsafe range of motion is being approached.

5. Press the center section of the tape onto the skin, rubbing briskly to activate the adhesive.

The goal is to provide an “end feel” that will prevent a muscle or joint from extending beyond its current safe range of motion.

My next post will provide details of the neurosensory application, used predominantly for pain relief. Check back for this important information soon!

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My last posting outlined the “big 4” categories of therapeutic benefits associated with kinesiology taping:
1. Psychological Benefits
2. Microcirculatory Benefits
3. Structural Benefis
4. Neurosensory Benefits

Today’s post will focus on the microcirculatory benefits that can be achieved through the use of kinesiology tape. This will provide details of how one can use kinesiology taping to reduce swelling, inflammation and bruising by enhancing the flow of fluids through the smallest vessels of the body.

swollen_ankle_2The Anatomy of Swelling & Inflammation
When part of the body sustains a traumatic injury, cells in the area burst and spill their contents into the extracellular space surrounding the injured tissues. This fluid is a major component of the swelling that accompanies an acute injury. When a large amount of this fluid collects in an enclosed area, it creates pressure on the blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and pain receptors. Severe swelling can actually reduce the circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid to an injured area – the opposite of what it needs to recover and heal.

How Does Kinesiology Tape Reduce Inflammation?
When kinesiology tape is applied to an inflammed area using a microcirculatory application technique (see below), the lifting motion of the tape creates a space between the top layer of skin and the underlying tissues. This space creates a pressure gradient between this area and the surrounding tissues that encourages the flow of blood into the injured area as well as the removal of lymphatic fluid (swelling). The result? Swelling goes down, pain is relieved, and the healing process is accelerated!

How to Create a Microcirculatory Kinesiology Taping Applicationst_body_lymphatic_1
When applying kinesiology tape, the two factors that can be manipulated are the amount of stretch in the tape and the amount of stretch in the muscle. In the case of a microcirculatory application, BOTH THE MUSCLE AND THE TAPE ARE STRETCHED. Always begin by applying the anchor end of the tape with no stretch – this lessens the liklihood of skin irritation and helps the tape adhere better. Next, stretch the injured muscle as far as possible without causing discomfort. As the backing is removed from each section of tape, stretch the tape to approximately 50% of the available stretch and apply it directly over the lymphatic pathways of the injured area. Apply the tail anchor with no stretch.

lymphatic_vesselsBecause the lymphatic system consists of a mulitude of vessels, most microcirculatory or lymphatic applications are quite complex, in order to cover as many pathways as possible. If using kinesiology tape by the roll, the tape is usually cut into narrow strips or even in a basket weave pattern before applying. If using pre-cut SpiderTech Tape, the Lymphatic Spider is always selected. This convenient application is already cut into narrow strips, with step-by-step directions in the package.

Because kinesiology tape applications are typically worn for up to 5 days, this is an ideal modality for long-term treatment of either acute or chronic swelling. Clinical applications range from the treatment of acute athletic injuries to post-surgical swelling control and relief from the painful, dysfiguring swelling of lymphodema.

My next post will focus on the details of structural kinesiology taping applications.

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An Introduction to Kinesiology Tape

posted by Tape Expert @ 12:03 PM
Monday, June 8, 2009

Kinesiology TapeDeveloped over 30 years ago in Japan, kinesiology tape flew under the radar of public awareness for many years, being used mainly in clinical settings. It wasn’t until the 2008 Beijing Olympics that it became an overnight sensation, when numerous athletes were spotted wearing colorful configurations of tape on various parts of their bodies.

Future blog posts will discuss the mechanisms behind this therapeutic phenomenon in more detail, but for now we’ll look at what makes kinesiology tape different from other forms of athletic tape.

Most types of athletic tape are non-elastic, and are wrapped tightly around an injured joint or muscle to provide support and restrict movement. It is used for short periods of time, after which it must be removed to restore movement and circulation.

Kinesiology tape, on the other hand, is very thin and very stretchy,  possessing virtually identical thickness and elasticity as human skin. This allows it to be manipulated in ways that no other therapeutic tape can, producing astounding benefits to the human body. Most applications can be worn for up to 5 days, allowing therapeutic benefits to accumulate 24/7. Wearers can sweat in it, swim in it, even bathe or shower in it … then simply pat it dry and go on with their activities! It’s flexibility allows maximum comfort, and the hypo-allergenic adhesive seldom causes skin irritation.

Watch for my next posting on the benefits of kinesiology tape … coming soon!

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