Get the Skinny on Kinesio Taping for Injuries

Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase developed the Kinesio taping method in 1979 but it didn’t take center stage until the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and again in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Many people were intrigued by the brightly-colored tape that looked more like maps of the London Underground than athletic tape. Although it may have been most visible on the beach volleyball players (what isn’t, right?) even table tennis athletes boasted kinesio taping on their hands. In fact, athletes from over 80 countries used kinesio taping in some form at the London Olympics.

Photo Credit: Marketplace
(Photo: Marketplace)

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Intrigued, we set off to find someone locally who practiced kinesio taping. Hoboken, NJ-based physical therapist Dr. Katherine Zucaro of Mile Square Physical Therapy shared with us the skinny on kinesio taping. (PC): How does it work?

Katherine Zucaro (KZ): When applied correctly, it can inhibit, facilitate or increase circulation to the targeted area based on specific needs. Kinesio tape is generally used in addition to stretching, strengthening exercises and other modalities for optimal results.

PC: Who benefits from this kind of taping?

KZ: You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to benefit from this taping method. Typical patients include, but are not limited to, people with:

  • trigger points in the neck and upper back area
  • shoulders that need improved postural and joint positioning
  • knees for patellar pain
  • ankles to correct over-pronation or supination
  • areas of increased swelling from an injury to improve lymphatic drainage
  • surgery incisions to decrease keloiding and improve scar mobilization
Kinesio tape on shoulder
(Photo: Theratape)

PC: Why did you begin to Kinesio tape your patients?

KZ: I like to Kinesio tape because the elastic properties of the tape generally do not restrict the body’s range of motion, while it provides support or stabilization to the muscle or joint. As a therapist, this form of taping forces me to apply my knowledge of the human anatomy of muscles and fibers to facilitate the healing process.

PC: When should someone get taped? How long does the tape stay on?

KZ: Kinesio tape can be applied in conjunction with physical therapy or rehabilitation as a modality to reduce pain, re-educate the neuromuscular system, increase circulation, optimize performance and overall injury prevention. The glue on the tape is heat activated so it generally sticks better when the patient is exercising. From my experience, it usually stays for two days before it loses its elastic properties and therapeutic effects. Patients can even shower with the tape on!

kinesio tape at The Back Care Center
(Photo: The Back Care Center)

PC: Is there anything else people should know about kinesio taping?

KZ: Kinesio tape is a very specific type of taping technique that should only be done by trained professionals. The amount of pull provided, the direction of which the tape is applied, and the length of the tape is very specific to the required outcome.

Dr. Katherine Zucaro, PT, DPT graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She ran track for University of Delaware and danced for 12 years. Her passion is adolescent and adult sports medicine injuries. When she’s not at work, you can find her in the gym, at a Yankees game or on the beach!