Author: Scott Korb, LMT, BCTMB, CKTI
Kinesio Taping has become a highly utilized and effective therapy throughout the medical community for populations ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist in private practice since 1991 specializing in Orthopedic and Pain Management Massage, Medical Massage and Sports Massage. I have been using Kinesio Taping since 2009 and I have found it to be an invaluable therapeutic tool for my clients.
When I first began taping, it took some time to discover why some of my clients would come back and tell me their tape did not stay on as long as I told them it should. After years of working with the tape, talking with other professionals and research, I want to share with you the tips to make it stick.
Preparing the skin for Kinesio Taping is essential to successful therapeutic outcomes. The various taping methods generally have a designed wear time of 3 to 5 days. When the tape remains on for only half the time it should, only half the therapeutic benefit is achieved.
TIPS TO MAKE IT STICK
- The skin must be free of outside agents, this is a well-known fact. What people think is, “If I used soap, my skin is clean”. Not so in terms of tape adherence. Most soap has moisturizer in it leaving behind a barrier. Other items people don’t think about are perfumes that have oils, sunscreen, topical analgesics and even your own natural body oils play a role in tape adherence.
- The skin must be free of its own contaminants; transient and resident flora. These are the microorganisms and bacteria generally found on the surface of the skin. The microorganisms generally found on the skin are called resident flora. Microorganisms that colonize for hours and maybe days that do not establish themselves permanently are called transient flora. So resident flora is generally found on the surface of the skin and transient flora is generally acquired.
- The skin must be dry with no moisture present at all. That would mean if you do shower or bathe before a taping application, you should wait for 15 to 20 minutes until all moisture has evaporated from your skin. Another type of moisture that people might not think about is perspiration. If you are over-heated for any reason, wait until your temperature drops back to normal and all signs of perspiring are gone.
- Pat, pat, pat yourself dry. Most taping brands are water resistant so you can shower, bath and swim with the tape on. If you don’t pat your skin dry at the site of the tape application, you will likely begin to peel up the edges of your taping.
- A skin cleanser designed for use with Kinesio Taping is a must. We all bathe, use soap, moisturizer, perspire and have natural body oils. It is essential to clean the skin with a product that will remove all substances from the application site. It is equally important to use a product that has the correct ingredients in it. Products commonly used in conjunction with Kinesio Taping methods are KSpray, other topical sprays and just plain rubbing alcohol can be used.
- Let’s talk about hair. It’s all over our bodies. If the site of application is thick with hair, tape adherence will be aided by trimming the hair in that area of application. The tape must adhere directly on the skin and become a second skin to do its job. The relationship between the tape and your skin is imperative. The tape impacts neuroreceptors, the lymphatic system, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. It has a big job so get it as close as you can by trimming the hair.
- Tape application should take place in a temperature controlled environment. Temperature control is multi-layered. It is not only the environment around you, but the temperature of your body as well. Many times athletes will have tape applied at an event. If it is hot, perspiration is present. If it is cold, the skin is not at an optimal temperature for tape adherence. Waiting until you have cooled down after an event is suggested as well.
- A crucial step of tape application is rounding the edges of your tape on each end. Many times the tape begins its departure from your skin at the edges. The edges catch on clothing and blankets and begin to peel up. Rounding your edges will help keep the tape securely in place. Also common knowledge is that you must rub the tape after application to activate the adhesive. I believe this is a step that is often missed. Most brand's adhesive is heat activated. The friction from rubbing the tape creates the heat to activate adherence.
SO LET’S RECAP:
- Clean skin free of outside agents
- Clean skin free of your own contaminants
- A dry application site
- Pat yourself dry after submersion in water
- The correct skin cleanser
- Trim thick hair
- Temperature Control
- Round your edges
- Activate adhesive
Remember, half the wear time = half the therapeutic benefits!
Learn Why All Tapes Are Not Created Equal: kinesiotape.com/what-is-kinesio-tape/