Although it contains no medications or topical substances, kinesiology tape can effectively relieve both acute and chronic pain. Its elasticity lifts the skin slightly, which immediately reduces pressure on sensitive pain receptors under the skin. Also, its stimulating effect on pain pathways provides a competitive stimulus that blocks pain signals going to the brain. This is especially effective for pain from “hot” injuries, where the intensity of the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the injury.
Reduced pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels enhances removal of fluids and other materials that collect in an injured area. This applies not only to sports injuries but also to post-surgical recovery and other inflammatory conditions, including lymphedema (severe swelling of the extremities).
One of the most dramatic effects of kinesiology taping is the removal of blood that accumulates under the skin due to bruising. The k-tape is applied in a fan pattern over the bruised area and the bruising is dissipated via the same lifting mechanism described above. Within a couple of days, a distinct fan pattern can be seen where the tape was applied over a bruised area.
Enhanced circulation improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to overused or fatigued muscles, helping to prevent or relieve spasms and cramps.
Fatigued, overused muscles contain byproducts of exercise (such as lactic acid) that contribute to pain and stiffness and limit the ability to continue exercising. When kinesiology tape is used over these areas, enhanced removal of these byproducts allows for more rapid recovery. Combined with improved delivery of oxygen via enhanced blood flow, this could translate into improved performance in an endurance event or more complete recovery between repetitive, high-intensity events.
This is one of the most important benefits of kinesiology taping for competitive athletes. Depending on how it is applied, kinesiology tape can prevent either overstretching or over-contraction of injured muscles. When combined with its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, this can allow athletes to continue training and/or competing as their injuries heal.
Certain neurological or muscular disorders can make muscles so weak that it is almost impossible to do the exercises that are critical to improving daily functioning. Kinesiology tape not only provides support to these muscles, but it can also improve muscle activation, allowing therapeutic exercises to be carried out more effectively.