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What Is Kinesiology Tape?

Dan Harkins
Updated May 17, 2024
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Athletes can occasionally be spotted sporting a certain kind of athletic tape in 2011. It is reportedly effective at protecting injuries, particularly those related to the kinesiology, or body movements, of the sport being played. Kinesiology tape, or merely therapeutic tape, was first designed in the 1970s by a Japanese chiropractor. Since then, this cottony stretchable tape, often as thick as human skin, has become a fairly respected tool for sports doctors.

The idea behind kinesiology tape is that an injured tendon, ligament or muscle does not need to be fully wrapped to be protected. This full wrapping can hinder flexibility and the full range of movement. Kinesiology tape, by contrast, is applied over injured areas, in dozens of ways that correspond to the way the body has been injured or overworked. It also can be worn for several days without removal; whereas, wrappings usually are removed after a particular sporting event.

Doctors, chiropractors, therapists and individuals have dozens of kinesiology tape configurations to choose from, in a myriad of colors to blend in with most uniforms. Several Web sites, such as the online education center for Theratape®, describe dozens of taping methods for a just as many types of injuries common to sporting and recreation. The tape is available in rolls or strips already cut for a particular troubles, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or a damaged hamstring.

For a common sports injury like tennis elbow a strip of adhesive kinesiology tape is taped, without any stretching, to the space between just above the elbow down to near the wrist. Then, a shorter piece wraps perpendicular to the first. The second piece is stretched where the tape passes over the place the elbow is strained.

An injury as minor as a jammed finger, which common in football, can even be wrapped with therapeutic tape. All it takes is cutting out a piece that is slightly longer than the finger. Then, with the finger slightly bent, the tape is stuck to the top of the finger all the way to the middle of the hand. When straightened, the finger may be less vulnerable since it is now better supported.

Kinesiology is merely the study of bodily movements. This can relate occupationally, ordinarily or in a specialized field known as sports kinesiology. Kinesiologists also aim to design equipment and medical devices that promote performance and flexibility as much as safety and healing. This is how therapeutic tape came to be made.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins , Former Writer
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.

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Dan Harkins

Dan Harkins

Former Writer

Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
Learn more
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