A Beginner’s Guide to Kinesiotape

In early November of 2013, the NBA took a stance against a specific player accessory and then quietly reversed its decision.  Was it headbands they were vilifying?  Or maybe it was compression sleeves and socks.  It might surprise you to know that it was kinesiotape at the center of the discussion.


It started after Derrick Rose was spotted with the therapeutic tape on his neck for a couple games.  The NBA swiftly informed Rose that he could not wear the tape but did not give a concrete reason behind its decision.  That same afternoon, the NBA publicly reversed its initial ruling, stating that players can wear the tape “on an experimental basis”.  In addition to NBA players, kinesiotape has also been spotted on pro and amateur athletes alike, such as velleyball superstar Kerri Walsh, or your local weekend crossfit warrior.  So what’s all the hubbub over some strips of tape?  According to Dr. Kenzo Kase, the inventor of kinesiotape:

“Your pain sensors are located between the epidermis and the dermis, the first and second layers of your skin,” Kase told the Guardian. “I thought that if I applied tape to the pain it would lift the epidermis slightly up and make a space between the two layers. This would in turn allow blood to flow more easily to the injured area. But you can use the tape in lots of ways, depending on the width and the amount of stretch.”

Some specific uses for kinesiotape include plantar fascitis, shin splints, knee issues, tennis/golfers elbow, neck/back pain, and rotator cuff issues.  The tape can also be used to improve athletic performance by improving form and decreasing fatigue in muscles and joints. We’ve been using kinesiotape in our offices for over a year for a variety of shoulder, knee, and back issues.  We’ve found clinically that the tape helps our patients experience more range of motion, less pain, and increased function in their daily activities.

Types of Tape
A quick search on Amazon for “kinesiotape” will yield over a hundred results so which one is the right one to use?  Although I haven’t personally tried them all, out of the ones our clinic has utilized, I’ve found that Rocktape elicits the most positive feedback from our patients.  It’s durable enough to last up to a week depending on the area taped and the individual’s activity level.  It also comes in a variety of colors and styles to suit anyone’s whimsy.

Regardless of which brand you choose, kinesiotape can benefit you whether it is for athletic performance or injury recovery.  The following are some helpful resources on this “duct-tape for the skin”.