Following a few simple tips for applying kinesiology tape can make the difference between a successful application and one that doesn’t product the desired results. My last post described how to prepare the skin and the tape for a successful kinesiology taping application. Now we’re going to look at proper technique for applying the tape to the skin. If the instructions in the previous post were followed, you will be starting with either strips from an uncut roll of kinesiology tape that you have cut and rounded the corners on, or with one of a variety of precut strips or applications with the backing torn to produce separate sections.
- Wait at least 1 hour after showering or exercising to apply tape.
- Do not apply tape to any skin surface that is damaged, including scrapes, cuts, burns or any type of rash or irritation. Individuals with sensitive skin should apply a test strip for 24 hours.
- Avoid touching the adhesive side of the tape after removing the backing. Doing so will decrease the strength of the adhesive in that area and could lead to early peeling.
- Kinesiology tape is designed to stick to skin, not to tape. It is OK for tape strips to cross other tape strips, but each strip must begin and end on skin.
- To avoid skin irritation, always apply the 2-3″ at the end of each strip with no stretch.
The following general instructions will apply to the majority of taping applications. Some of the techniques may vary for specialized applications. If you are unsure of how to tape your specific injury, a large selection of both printable and video instructions is available in the Theratape Education Center.
Applying Tape from Uncut Rolls
Beginning with a strip from an uncut roll of kinesiology tape, tear the backing 2-3″ from one end to create an anchor, the first part that will be applied. Remove the backing from the anchor end only, leaving the rest of the backing intact. Apply the anchor end to the skin with no stretch in the tape. Gradually peel the backing from the rest of the strip, applying the tape to the skin as the backing is removed. Rub lightly and briskly from the center of the tape towards the ends to activate the adhesive. Do not rub from the end of a strip toward the center, as you may catch an end and cause the tape to peel away from the skin.
Follow these rules of thumb for stretching the tape:
For Pain Relief – stretch the muscle before applying tape. Apply tape with no additional stretch.
For Structural Support – keep the muscle in a shortened position and stretch the center of the tape from 30-80%. The final 2-3″ at either end of each strip must be applied with absolutely no stretch. Applying stretch to the ends of the tape can quickly lead to skin irritation and abrasions.
To Reduce Swelling and Edema – lightly stretch both the muscle and the tape as the tape is applied. As noted above, the final 2-3″ of each strip must be applied with no additional stretch.
Applying Precut Strips and Applications
Before beginning with a precut kinesiology tape application, ensure that the backing has been torn between all sections of the application. Remove the backing from one section at a time and apply according to the instructions from the product package, video or website. Briskly rub each section from the center outward to activate the adhesive.