What runners need to know about Kinesio Tape

Pain got you sidelined? Run like a Sumo…
Scott Jahn, DC, CSCS

For most runners, not even the thought of death would quiet the call of the road. It is this beautiful innate need to run that is woven within the very framework of us all, although dormant in some.  But this passion can sometimes be a detriment.

All too often we ignore our body’s cries to stop because our spirit screams out never!  The end result is a myriad of overuse and repetitive strain syndromes that leaves the avid runner with inflammation, fibrotic adhesions, and biomechanical anomalies—all setting the stage for injury.  

Now, thanks to a not-so-new treatment known as Kinesio tape, runners are able to recover faster and run without pain like never before!

No doubt, anyone who has spent any time watching sports has noticed athletes more and more wearing neon colored tape in weird geometric patterns on their skin in what looks like a radical fashion statement. That tape is known as Kinesio-tape. Invented by Dr. Kenzo Kase over 30 years ago, originally used on sumo wrestlers to aid in performance and injury recovery. But it wasn’t until the 2008 Beijing Olympics that the world took notice.  During Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Tranner’s gold metal run in beach volleyball, everyone was asking the same question, what was that funky tape on Kerri’s right shoulder?  It wasn’t soon after that kinesio-tape became a household name with professional athletes like David Beckham, Lance Armstrong and Serena Williams.

The best way to describe Kinesio-tape would be to think of it like a second muscle.  Its elasticity will mimic the contraction of a muscles thereby assisting in its function and reducing its overall stress-load.  Depending on the taping technique, it can be used to reduce stress on an entire muscle, a portion of the muscle or even the tendonous attachments that commonly inflame with over use. Kinesio-tape also lifts the skin from underlying layers causing an increase of circulation. This reduces swelling and takes pressure off of sensitive nerve endings responsible for pain.  

Another benefit of the tape that cannot be overstated enough is its effectiveness in neuro-muscular re-education. Or simply put, it trains the brain. The tape can provide an excellent tactile neurologic stimulus regarding the choreography of firing certain muscles in sequence of the movement arc. This makes it an ideal aid in correcting biomechanical inefficiencies in stride as well as other movement patterns.

I have seen Kinesio-tape work miracles on shin splints, achillis tendonitis, muscle pulls and plantar fasciitis in athletes that would have otherwise have been sidelined. It is also water-resistant which makes it perfect to resist the sweat of a good run and as well as the shower afterwards.  

Whether you have an overuse problem or are training to increase mechanics, kinesio tape maybe the answer you’re looking for. No other tape on the market has such diverse and beneficial applications.