Kinesio Tape for Swelling

You have probably seen kinesio tape before and wondered in passing what it was about. It's common to see beach volleyball players and basketball players sporting brightly colored tape on shoulders and knees.  In that case, the tape is being used to support muscles, alignment and strength or to heal and prevent injury when the athlete moves.  But it's not just for high-performance athletes - it might even be for you.

Kinesio taping (sometimes spelled kinesiotape or kinesio-tape) can reduce swelling.  Because it is elastic, the tape moves with you and can be left on for days at a time – unlike traditional strapping tape, which constricts blood flow. It also encourages lymph function and can be used as an adjunct to your Lymphworks therapy.  Currently, therapist C.J. McDaniel is trained in adding this service onto a lymphatic session or lymph massage session.

Kinesio tape is latex free, flexible, long lasting, and comes in many colors. Brands like Kinesio Tex Tape are often used to support injured muscles or to prevent further injury to an area.  After application, it may remain on the skin for 3 to 5 days. Additionally, tape promotes circulation to an inflamed area. It lifts the skin just enough to create a negative pressure area in the tissues just under the skin. The blood and lymph vessels then dilate and collected lymph fluid or pooled blood, which can then drain away and reduce the swelling. Fresh blood flows in, oxygenating the tissues and promoting healing.

The lymph system's job is to keep the body's fluids in balance and evacuate toxins, proteins, and excess fluid from the extra-cellular spaces. In addition to trash collection, the lymph system transports hormones and immune cells throughout the body. The tape's slight tug on the skin stimulates lymph vessels to open the valves and collect more fluid.

Kinesio taping of the front of a total left  knee replacement

Kinesio taping of right posterior lower leg of lymphedema client

Other Benefits of Kinesio Taping

Taping helps improve circulation in the targeted areas. It enriches the desired neuro-sensory response in the same way massage does. It is also helpful for energy healing because tape can direct energy flow.

While science doesn't know all the reasons that taping works, it does stimulate the nervous system and creates awareness of an area in the brain. After all, greater awareness of an area brings greater healing, as well as a little extra babying of that part of your body.

At Lymphworks, we use kinesio tape as an adjunct to lymph drainage therapy, massage therapy, and even energy healing. It acts as a bridging tool to extend healing between sessions. Because it is water resistant, an application lasts through showers for up to five days. Especially when placed on a swollen knee or shoulder, a few extra days of lymph system stimulation is very beneficial. Applications to hands and feet don't last as long, but still do extend healing beyond in-office time.

Kinesio Tape May Even Be Used For:

  • Activate hypotonic muscles (stimulate weak muscles)
  • Inhibit hyper tonic muscles (relax tight muscles)
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Relieve pain in neck and shoulders
  • Relieve tension headaches
  • Align posture (because it reminds you of proper alignment)
  • Stimulate digestion
  • Drain stuffy sinuses and ear infections
  • Heal large bruises
  • Mobilize or soften scar tissue
  • Activate merdian (energy) flow
  • Release the diaphragm and improve breathing
  • Aid with hiatal herna

It should be remembered that kinesio taping is not a complete solution. It is a bridging or supportive tool, most effectively used in combination with other therapy. Lymphworks therapists may even teach clients to tape themselves if it is deemed beneficial. Often tape used three to four times will resolve an area of swelling or trouble. If it doesn't, there is usually an underlying condition which needs further investigation.

Tape can be purchased online. Lymphworks therapists will be glad to show you how to apply it for your specific problem. Further information on how kinesio taping for swelling works can be found here.

Application and Self Care with Kinesio Taping for Swelling

The practitioner will prepare the skin by wiping it clean with an alcohol swab.  For the best results in keeping your kinesio tape working for the next 3 to 5 days after application we recommend the following:

  • Try to keep clothing or equipment from rubbing on the end of the tape. 
  • To dry tape that has become wet (after showering), gently pat it with a towel.
  • To not use a hair dryer on the tape as the adhesive is heat-activated and may become difficult to remove.
  • Any ends of the tape that begin to peel may be trimmed with scissors to prevent further peeling (please do not cut yourself).
  • Kinesio tape is made from cotton with a hyper allergenic acrylic adhesive (non-latex).  If, on the rare occasion, you have a rash, itch or irritation due to the tape, remove it immediately.  You may use anti inflammatory cream or Benadryl itch stopping gel topically after the tape has been removed.
  • To remove tape that is strongly adhered to skin, soak it first with water or vegetable oil, coconut oil, or olive oil for 5-10 minutes before removing.

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