Kinesio Tape: duct tape for the body

(I have decided to write a post on Kinesio Tape because I like to talk about the important things in life =P. In all seriousness though, I couldn’t find much on comparisons on different types of tape when I was researching, which is why I decided to write a review incase some other poor injuredsap is like myself is searching out there)

how big is your Patella?

how big is your Patella?

In the Fall, I busted my knee while attempting to be athletic. I lamented for a while about the unnaturalness of the pain I felt for a few weeks. After numerous the comments I got about limping around, I finally went to the doctor, got an MRI and an Xray.  Turns out, I did ACTUALLY do something and couldn’t just walk it off.  I tore my medial meniscus, which is known to be part of the unhappy triad, that terrorizes many professional athletes, and many normal people pretending to be athletes, like myself.

Though I didn’t mean to go Mafia on myself and bust my own knee, I did quite a number. My right knee had swollen to be twice the size of the left one which was normal. I had water on the knee, and limped around walking. I went to physio, I tried to rehab it using TENS. But we really didn’t do much since I was waiting for my MRI and Xray appointment and then waiting for the results.

Fat knees? just use TENS to exercise it, without exercising it.

Fat knees? just use TENS to exercise it, without ACTUALLY exercising it.

One of the things my Physio suggested was taping up the knee with Kinesio Tape while I searched for a comfortable knee brace that was going to cost me my arm as well as my leg .

So Fashionable, you will sport it in other areas of your life.

So Fashionable, you will sport it in normal areas of your life. (That’s my sexxxy knee, which I taped up before my workout, forgetting I was wearing a skirt that day…)

Now, I’m no stranger to Kinesio Tape.  I first became aware of it in 2010 as my Chiropractor has from time to time used it on various parts of my body to help alleviate pain or help offer support to offending bodyparts so that they would stop offending my pain sensors.

Tell your eyes, to stop looking at my tape.

Tell your eyes, to stop looking at my tape.  My chiro ran out of nude coloured tape that day.

According to Google and various press agencies, the world became aware of Kinesio Tape during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, though I only noticed athletes sporting it during London Olympics last year.  It’s actually been around since the mid 70′s and was created by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a chiropractor.  This product has since exploded and there are many companies who offer Kinesio Tape, hence my search for the best one.

Kinesio tape is made to mimic human skin with the ability to stretch.  It’s actually made of threads cotton/lycra (or something stretchy) blend that is interwoven to make a thin piece of cloth.  On one side of this material is a sticky heat (read: friction) activated adhesive.  The sticky side is usually stuck onto paper (like a sticker) which you use to rub on the cloth side once it is applied to skin.  They come in rolls or pre-cut strips.  I myself prefer the rolls which I can cut to specified body part since some of the pre-cut strips are specific to the area of the body being treated.

close up, but not extreme close up

close up, but not extreme close up

Kinesio tape is supposed to work by either providing support, increasing circulation, helping with proper muscle activation of the injured area.  That is how my chiro explained it to me before treating me with it.  There are studies that have been done and the effectiveness is debated, but personally it works for me which is why I sought to buy rolls of my own for my knee since I hadn’t and still haven’t found a $350+ knee brace that is comfortable without completely restricting certain ranges of motion.  It may seem funny to be duct taping your body together, but it helped me stop limping.

This stuff isn’t exactly cheap and not the easiest to get your hands on.  Most physical therapy places have it to treat patients and don’t necessarily sell it because they want people to come in for treatment.  Since my knee had been taped up alot, I figured out how to do it and went to trusty YouTube for other taping methods.  My chiro even saw me at the gym and gave me some mean side eye asking who was treating me.  I confessed I taped myself up, and he eased up and told me I did a good job.

You may be wondering what exactly makes a particular brand ‘Good’ regarding Physio tape.  The following 2 factors I have determined after being treated with 4 different brands are:

1) stickiness-The tape is supposed to be worn for 3-5 days.  This is a big factor because most tapes recommend you to clean the skin with alcohol to make sure lotion, oil, etc are not on the skin to ensure a good bond with the skin.  If the adhesive is not particular sticky, it also causes the tape to fray.  This was the most important factor for me.

2) fray factor-since this tape is applied and worn for 3-5 days, often times the cloth/material portion of the tape begins to fray around the edges which in turn doesn’t allow the tape to stick as well. This is also important because the tape is often stretched in certain applications (depending on the area of the body).  If the tape frays, it won’t be effective in doing it’s job of supporting a joint or assisting with circulation.

The first tape I was treated with, I’ll be honest I can’t remember the name or I may not have even asked since it was only for my shoulders (as seen above).

The second brand I was treated with was Spider Tech Tape, on my ribs.  I can’t remember how I injured my ribular area but I do remember it hurt to laugh and I told people not to make me laugh.   I will tell you it was super akward as I was without bra (read: topless) and concealing my chesticle area with a towel while lying on my side trying to suck in my gut because I ate pizza the night before.  The Spider Tape was pre-cut tape.  I didn’t find it to be particular sticky.  After a day it started peeling off (and not supporting my ribslets).


do they call it Spider Tape because you're supposed to make webs with it? this and other serious questions coming up...

do they call it Spider Tape because you’re supposed to make webs with it? this and other serious questions coming up…

The first brand I bought was KT Tape from Shoppers Drug Mart. My Physiotherapist told me they sold it there. So, off to SDM I limped and bought a roll. It was about $15 (including tax) for 20 pre-cut strips. These strips weren’t cut into intricate patterns like Spider Tape. These are just pre-cut regarding length. These were the regular, not the Pro version which is more expensive but comes with a carrying case. I’ve never found the Pro version of the tape being sold anywhere, but a carrying case does sound handy…since the cardboard box it comes in gets torn since it gets banged around my gym bag.

KT Tape: the regular kind, for not real athletes?

KT Tape: the regular kind, for not real athletes?

The regular KT tape sucks!!! Even after showering and then cleaning the area I would be applying the tape with rubbing alcohol, it still didn’t stick very well. about a day after it would start peeling off. IMO, this non-PRO version is just a money maker for SDM and the company.

If I ever find out where they sell the Pro version, I’ll be willing to try it. But as for the regular, I’d rather stick masking tape on my body because that is stickier and atleast would stay in place.

The last type of tape I tried was Rock Tape. I stumbled upon their website, shot a few questions via twitter that were unanswered. A roll costs about $20 USD, but shipping to Canada was something like another $20. I went to their site and found a qualified ‘taper’/practitioner and called to see if he happen to sell the tape. It turned out he was making an order and gladly took mine and answered my inquiry of how sticky and how well it held up after a few days of wear. He said he worked with other tapes, but this by far was the stickiest he encountered. I ordered 3 rolls (at about $23/roll), two regular and one waterproof which is supposed to be extra sticky.

most girls spend their money on shoes or purses. I spend mine on duct tape for my body. :(

most girls spend their money on shoes or purses. I spend mine on duct tape for my body. :(

I was really surprised at the quality of this tape, it was extremely sticky and held together fairly well.  Days 1 to 3 were extremely amazing and support or restriction (for my kneecap) was firm, by day 4-5 you start to feel a little slack on the support, but still feels better than without the tape.  The other tapes I’ve had on give out between 1-2 days regarding support factor.  I’ve worn tape up to 6 days.  That’s the longest I’ve worn Rock Tape.  As for stickiness factor,  it’s EXTREMELY  sticky.  So sticky that I exchanged my waterproof tape (unopened of course) for the regular tape.  It is soooo sticky that on occasion it has removed of a top thin layer of my skin when I removed it.  I have even been able to apply it after having lotion on my legs and it stuck just as well as if I hadn’t cleaned it with rubbing alcohol.

By far Rock Tape is a winner by a landslide from all others I have tried. They even have crazy patterns which make it slightly more fun to wear, if you’re going to be stuck wearing some. If you’re going to spend your money on tape and don’t want to go through the expensive trial that I did, then buy Rock Tape.  Or feel free to conduct your own experiment and let me know if there’s a better one out there.

One other important thing I should mention is that my coworker told me about a supplement he took when he injured his shoulder.  It’s Arginine and Ornithine, he was singing praise, I thought whatever…butnthen I tried it and honestly it’s like magic in a pill.  I stopped taking it after my knee got better and though it wasn’t close to the way my knee had been pre-injury, it came pretty close and my knee problems went away for the most part…to the point where I stopped limping or needing to tape it and didn’t really have problems with it anymore.  In the past two weeks I re-aggrivated my knee so I’m on a fierce regiment of Taping myself, these pills and possibly yoga if my knee’s swelling goes down.  It sucks, but I was told to not do anything when it’s swelling…I interpret ‘nothing’ as tape and pills, my knee however interprets that as nothing weight bearing :(

jan 26, 2013 086

anyhoo……..hope this post helps someone with also needs to duct tape their body…let me know what you think, because knowing is half the battle.



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