How Does Kinesiology Tape Relieve Swelling?

posted by Tape Expert

One of the most amazing benefits of kinesiology taping is its ability to reduce swelling or edema. When properly applied, the results are often rapid, and are maintained as long as the tape is worn. What is it about this therapeutic tape that allows it to relieve swelling as no other modality can? First, a little background info.

Introduction to the Lymphatic System
lymphatic_vesselsSimilar to the circulatory system of blood vessels that carry blood, the lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels that carry lymphatic fluid. Rather than delivering substances to the tissues, however, the lymphatic vessels remove substances, including excess fluids, cellular debris and infectious organisms. Another difference is that the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, and relies on other mechanisms such as osmotic pressure and muscle action to move fluids through its vessels. The lymphatic system is the main mechanism for reducing swelling and edema in the body.

The Anatomy of Swelling & Inflammation
swollen_ankle_2When 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 exerts 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.

Kinesiology Tape Increases Lymphatic Drainage
st_body_lymphatic_1When kinesiology tape is applied to an inflamed area, 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 allows fluids to move into the lymphatic vessels and be eliminated from the body.  In addition, enhanced muscle activation increases the muscle pump pushing more fluid through the lymphatic vessels. The result? Swelling goes down, pain is relieved, and the healing process is accelerated!

My next post will discuss how to apply kinesiology tape to facilitate lymphatic drainage.

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