KT Tape: What is it and how does it work? – Ask a Physiotherapist

Have you ever heard a friend say they got KT tape for their shoulder? Or have you seen athletes sporting colourful pieces of tape and ever wondered why it’s there? Kinesiotape, or KT tape, is a tool that is used in physiotherapy treatments. The aim of this blog is to explain how the tape works, the uses for it and its effects, and why it can be an adjunct to therapy. Continue reading to learn about KT tape!

KT tape is a very stretchy tape, compared to white athletic tapes or brown rigid tapes you may see around. The tape is applied to a certain body area and the ends of the tape are laid down with no stretch. Stretch of the tape can be anywhere from 10%-75% and in a certain direction depending on treatment goals. Tape can be used to help support an area, inhibit an area (if it’s working too much), for posture awareness, and/or to support injured joints/tendons/muscles. While scientific evidence on taping can be varied, there have been some studies that show it can help with pain relief and range of motion.
A few key notes about KT tape:

  • Please avoid using if you are allergic to adhesives – if you are then this is not the right therapeutic tool for you to use!
  • You may need to switch out the tape more frequently if you are going to be wearing it in a hot climate, as this may cause skin irritation
  • It is waterproof so you only need to dab it dry in the shower!
  • It can be left on for a few days, but don’t keep it on too long as it will become very sticky and may pull at the skin when removed
  • Wash the area with soap and water after removal
  • Tape is applied for a purpose, with a specific stretch and direction so if you are unsure about how to apply it, ask your physiotherapist to teach you so you can self-tape at home if needed!

If you think tape may help with your injury, please seek advice from a physiotherapist to discuss it with you. It is also important to remember that tape is an adjunct therapy and other physiotherapy treatments such as manual therapy, education and exercise can also assist with healing and help with long-term injury prevention.
Mostafavifar, M., Wertz, J. & Borchers, J. A systematic review of the effectiveness of kinesio taping for musculoskeletal injury. Phys Sportsmed. 2012; 40(4):33-40.
Williams, S., Whatman, C., Hume, P.A., & Sheerin, K. Kinesiotaping in treatment and prevention of sports injuries. Sports Medicine. 2012; 42: 153-164.
Written By:
Olivia Skrastins
Registered Physiotherapist
Physiotherapist Olivia Skrastins

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