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Weekend Warriors: Using KT Tape to alleviate pain

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  • Written By: Channa Christensen, PTA and Rachel Conrad, PBT, CPT, MA
Weekend Warriors: Using KT Tape to alleviate pain

You can’t go to a sporting event, the gym or even hike without seeing someone covered in colorful tape on their shoulders, knees, ankles, elbows and more. Fit folks these days look like they are wrapped up in huge, colorful, Band-Aids—up one side of their body and across the other. The brightly colored tape seems to be a craze, but not of the fashionable kind. Perhaps more like the old man basketball survivor kind.

But, it’s not really a craze. Nor is it new. In fact, it all started with Dr. Kenzo Kase in the 1970s, with his practice of integrative medicine. He found that he was able to alleviate pain for his patients as he changed their movement patterns, but their pain would return once they went home. He began experimenting with tape, now referred to as “Kinesiology Tape,” to help correct alignment issues, sports injuries and more.

Kinesiology Tape has several major functions:

  • supporting muscle
  • improving the flow of bodily fluids from the lymphatic system
  • reducing inflammation
  • and correcting joint problems and misalignment.

Kinesiology Tape improves range of motion and relieves pain. Common ailments the tape can be used on include:

  • muscle imbalances
  • sprains to ligaments and tendons
  • tendinitis
  • fasciitis
  • injuries to toes and fingers
  • shin splints
  • carpal tunnel
  • postural issues
  • headaches, and more.

KT Tape CCHThere are three basic kinds of tape: rigid, semi-rigid (McConnell) and elastic tape (KT Tape, with various brand names). Each type of tape has a different application. The tape most commonly used by general consumers is KT Tape.

The use of KT Tape has become highly popular. You can use KT Tape to help alleviate some of the common struggles the weekend warrior might experience. The following are some tips for the general, basic use of KT Tape.

First, it’s always best to consult the experts. Your physical therapist (PT), PT Assistant, chiropractor, sports trainer or more are qualified to teach you how to self-treat your aches and pains from time to time. KT Tape is safe to use for approximately two weeks, but if the issue lingers, please see a professional.

When using KT Tape, be mindful that the material and adhesive can cause an allergic reaction. You should always prep the skin for use—clean the surface to be taped and follow packaging prep instructions so the KT Tape will adhere better. Do not rip off the KT Tape when you are done using it! KT tape should not be used without supervision in the elderly, those who are pregnant or those with diabetes, open wounds and skin infections or heart conditions.

Common techniques used are placing tape in a Y, I, C, fan, web and doughnut shape. Y and I are the most common strategies. When placing KT Tape, a general rule of thumb is to remember the tape pulls toward the origin of insertion. Think about where the muscle group starts from and ends at a joint and you should elongate or shorten the muscles or joint depending on the ailment you’re treating before applying. The use of KT Tape has become so popular to treat minor ailments, you can purchase it at most stores—I saw an off brand in the dollar store recently—and often you can purchase pre-cut strips that are made specifically for various ailments.

The photos below show examples of how you might tape a few used and abused joints to alleviate pain, provide stability, and manage a sprain or strain.

Fan Shaped: alleviates inflammation

Fan Shaped: alleviates inflammation CCH Rehabilitation

X shape: to inhibit full extension, give support and alleviate pain

X shape: to inhibit full extension, give support and alleviate pain KT Tape CCH Rehabilitation

Rotator Cuff: helps with postural support and to facilitate ideal movement patters

Rotator Cuff: helps with postural support and to facilitate ideal movement patters CCH Rehabilitation

Even the weekend warrior needs help from time to time! See your physical therapist, PTA, sports trainer or other qualified professional for more guidance and self-care.

Have Questions?
Channa Christensen is a Physical Therapist Assistant at Campbell County Health Rehabilitation Services. CCH’s Rehabilitation Services is the most comprehensive therapy clinic in the Northeast, Wyoming region. Contact them today 307-688-8000 or learn more at

  • Category: Wyoming Orthopedics & Spine, Campbell County Medical Group clinic, Rehabilitation Services, Wellness