How Does KT Tape Work?

As an athlete, you depend on your body to perform at peak efficiency. Whether you're training to run a marathon, preparing for competition, or striving to attain a personal fitness goal, you don't want pain or injuries holding you back from achieving your best. Discover how KT Tape can help relieve pain and support muscles, tendons, and ligaments for optimal athletic performance.

applying blue KT tape to shoulder

What Is KT Tape?

Lightweight and comfortable to wear, KT (Kinesiology Therapeutic) Tape is a flexible, elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain and support muscles, tendons, and ligaments during activity. This tape provides lightweight external support that helps athletes like you remain active while preventing or recovering from injuries. It comes in pre-cut strips to make it easier to use. 

You can find KT Tape available in the following types:

  • Original.
  • Gentle.
  • PRO.
  • PRO Extreme.
  • PRO X.

Both KT Tape Original and Gentle contain 100% cotton fibers with special cores that contain elastic. The PRO, PRO Extreme, and PRO X versions of KT Tape feature a specially engineered, durable synthetic fiber containing cores reinforced with 30% stronger elastic. Both the cotton and synthetic materials in the tape promote unidirectional elasticity. In other words, the tape can stretch in length but not in width. 

Due to the presence of these elastic fibers, KT Tape can support muscles, tendons, and ligaments without inhibiting range of motion like traditional athletic tape. In addition, the elastic fibers in KT Tape PRO permit the release of moisture essential for comfort, durability, and wearability. 

KT Tape contains a special form of adhesive that is:

  • Latex-free.
  • Hypoallergenic. 
  • Designed to withstand high humidity, sweat, water, and multiple days of wear.

With KT Tape, you'll appreciate how this distinctive sports tape gives your muscles, tendons, and ligaments enhanced comfort over long periods of time, particularly when you're undergoing intense athletic training or performing sport-specific movements

What Does KT Tape Do?

When you sustain an injury, whether through overuse or impact from activity, lymphatic fluid builds up, which can cause inflammation and swelling. The buildup of lymphatic fluid can place increased pressure on the body's muscles and tissue. As a result, you may experience discomfort and pain. 

When applied correctly, KT Tape lifts the skin and allows lymphatic fluid to flow rather than build up. In turn, the flow of lymphatic fluid allows white blood cells to be carried throughout the body. This flow enables the body to eliminate bacteria and waste products from cells and tissues. 

In addition to supporting the movement of lymphatic fluid in the body, KT Tape helps reduce pressure on your body tissue to reduce discomfort and pain. When you apply KT Tape correctly, you can benefit from the support your muscles will receive. As a result, you can avoid having your muscles become overextended as you engage in your athletic pursuits. Just remember that the results of KT Tape can vary from person to person, and it isn't clinically proven for all injuries. 

Competitive Cyclist Mountain Bike

Image via Unsplash by cioni_mattia

How Do You Use KT Tape?

You can use KT Tape to support various areas and muscles of the body on the legs, feet, knees, back, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. The tape limits movement around specific joints of the body without restricting range of motion. 

You can use KT Tape for the following applications:

  • Muscle facilitation and inhibition.
  • Pain relief.
  • Proprioceptive stability (enabling your muscles to provide stability while permitting range of motion).
  • Swelling reduction.
  • Tissue decompression.

More specifically, KT Tape can provide support for athletes experiencing some of the following performance-related conditions:

  • Achilles tendonitis.
  • Peroneal tendonitis.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Rotator cuff injuries.
  • Shin splints. 
  • Turf toe.

How Do You Apply KT Tape?

To achieve the best results, follow the tips below for how to apply KT Tape to your body: 

  • Apply KT Tape at least one hour prior to working out or participating in any athletic activity.
  • For best results, apply KT Tape directly to your skin. Avoid layering the tape except where required.
  • Use rubbing alcohol to clean any dirt, lotions, and oils from your skin so that the tape strips adhere and stick to your skin longer.
  • To help with adhesion and effectiveness, the makers of KT Tape recommend keeping body hair short in the area where you'll apply the tape. If necessary, trim your hair to 1/8 inch in length, however, for it is most effective to remove all hair where the tape will be applied.
  • After applying KT Tape, rub the strips to activate adhesion to your skin. 
  • To remove KT Tape, gently lift an edge of the tape, folding the tape back on itself. While holding your skin, gently pull the tape down upon itself. Avoid pulling the tape away from your body to prevent overstretching and injuring your skin. 

Where Can You Buy KT Tape?

If you want to know where to buy KT Tape, you can find this product through the following sources:

Although KT Tape can provide support to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, it is not a permanent solution to pain relief. You should continue to work to build your strength and skills with a qualified sports medicine professional.

As a certified athletic trainer and sports medicine podiatrist, I have cared for athletes across Chicago and the northern Illinois suburbs for more than 30 years. I regularly lecture and have written articles on the effectiveness and methods of using Kinesiology tape.  

For more information about using KT Tape and related sports medicine questions, contact us at our Chicago or Park City office. 

Contact us today by calling our Chicago office at 312-642-6020 or our Park City office at 847-263-6073.