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KT or Kinesiology Tape – Whats it all About?

Bale with KT

I think that at this point we’ve all seen at least one professional athlete with unusual looking black tape on an arm, leg, shoulder or even on their ribs. This tape is called Kinesiology Tape or a lot of people will refer to it simply as KT. A lot of professional athletes, and many of my friends swear by it, but I was skeptical about it. So I went out and purchased some. After all, how much can a thin strip of fabric with adhesive do? Supposedly it does many things, here is an excerpt explaining the functions and purposes of KT Tape.

Here is how it works, KT Tape is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissue) to provide a lightweight, strong, external support that helps to prevent injury and speed recovery. KT Tape works differently for different injuries. KT Tape can lift and support the knee cap, holding it in place for Runner’s Knee. KT Tape can support sagging muscles along the arch of the foot, relieving the connective tissues for Plantar’s Fasciitis. And KT Tape can lift the stress off of shin splints to allow pain release and give the body a better opportunity to recover. Depending on how it is applied, KT Tape supports, enables, or restricts soft tissue and its movement. By stretching and recoiling like a rubber band, KT Tape augments tissue function and distributes loads away from inflamed or damaged muscles and tendons, thereby protecting tissues from further injury.

In other words it almost acts like an extra set of ligaments, can help reduce pain and even speed recovery. I put the KT tape through at least 10 games and 5 or more weeks of use. I used two different configurations for testing. I put them through games, work outs, showers and even a game in the rain. What I really like about the tape is how many ways it can used. Feasibly it can be used on every single joint. I’ll go over two of them in this article, detailing how the tape performed for each.

Kinesiology Tape

Initial Complications

At first the KT Tape didn’t work at all for me. It just wouldn’t stick. I found out why pretty quickly, I had too much leg hair! I had to shave a portion of my legs to get it to work. After that I had no issues, so make sure you shave and wash the area thoroughly before applying. When I got it right I ended up getting 5-7 days of wear out of it depending on how much activity I saw. If you have to take it off early it is best to do it slowly and if you have to use baby oil.

Osgood Schlatter Configuration

I used the Osgood Schlatter set up because I was having issues with pain in my tibial tuberosity, where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia. I found that it reduced the pain greatly and I healed up pretty quick. In the past I’ve had flair ups of pain and it usually takes a couple of weeks but with the KT tape it only took three days before the pain subsided. It stayed on for a week without coming off. The set up is easy to apply and very durable.

Full Knee Configuration

I found that using this set up was very effective. Granted I had to shave almost half my leg but it was worth it. I’ve found that after almost every game my knee’s are pretty sore but after a game in KT tape my knees were feeling pretty fresh. I also wore the set up during work, my knee’s always get stiff on me after spending 6 hours straight on my feet. However with them taped up I encountered no such discomfort. The first time I applied the full knee configuration it ended up coming off partially mid game but that was partly because I didn’t shave my leg well enough.

Compared to a brace

I did a few different tests with the KT tape. I used KT tape on both knees, on one knee with a couple of different braces on my other knee and even with a brace in addition to the tape. I found that it was equally supportive as a basic compression sleeve but the tape is much more specific, the advantage being that you can set up the tape to address your specific needs. There are many different configurations just for the knee alone! A brace is  much more general when it comes to addressing joints and isn’t nearly as versatile. Toward the end of testing I even decided to try wearing the KT tape under my brace resulting in absolutely no pain in my knee’s at all even after a two hour match!

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a way to reduce injury and shorten recovery time give KT tape a try. It doesn’t just have to be for knees though. It can work for elbows, feet, hips, shoulders, and every joint you can think of! I used it for my shoulder and was surprised how well it actually worked. I’ll be picking up another roll when I run out. The only downsides are that I’ll have to keep parts of my legs shaved and I’ll have to buy another roll every month and a half!

KT tape can be found in a Pro Model (tested) for $19.99 and the Normal Model $12.99. Alternatively, you can pick up the Mueller Kinesiology Tape directly from soccer.com.

About Jim Gauthier

Jim is a a licensed massage therapist with a vast knowledge of anatomy and injury. When he is not healing people with his magical abilities, Jim's goal is to provide everyday players with in-depth knowledge from an amateur players perspective. Find him on his Facebook Page for any personal questions or injury help!

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