How Kinesio Tape Actually Works

Your Personal PT, Rachel Tavel, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) at Shift Wellness in NYC, so she knows how to get your body back on track when it’s out of line. In this weekly series, she gives you tips on how to feel better, get stronger, and train smarter.

Around the time of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, colorful strips of tape strategically stuck in various ways across athletes’ bodies started popping out on broadcast competitions. The bright, sticky stuff reappeared in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, drawing even more attention. Volleyball players reached for balls with bright pink and black tape stretched in criss-crossing patterns around their shoulders and swimmers appeared with it strewn about their backs. For those outside athletics, the application was mystifying: What was this tape all about?

Kinesio Tape (KT) is a brand of elastic therapeutic tape used in rehabilitation practices and sports to reduce pain and disability from injury. The goal is to help anyone from an elite athlete to a weekend warrior (or even grandma and grandpa) to move better. The brand is actually one of many different types of kinesiology tape, and probably the most well known—like Kleenex for tissues.

Originally developed in 1979 by Japanese chiropractor, Dr. Kenzo Kase, the goal of the tape was to provide support while allowing movement and promoting healing of soft tissue injuries. Different application techniques serve different purposes, so depending on what is going on in your body, a trained and certified practitioner and user of KT will know which approach is right for you.

The tape itself is made up of a gentle cotton fiber strip that has one medical grade adhesive acrylic side that adheres to skin (and yes, hair… brace yourself for the removal part). It’s actually designed to mimic the elasticity of human skin. The material is latex free, hypoallergenic, water resistant and designed to stay stuck to the body through showers, sweat and all that life throws at you. The stuff should stick for three to five days, but then you’ll need to reapply.

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By lifting the top layer or skin ever so slightly, KT creators claim the adhesive quality of the tape helps promote lymphatic drainage and promote circulation, therefore reducing inflammation and pressure on the underlying tissue. The technique may even have the ability to help relax or stimulate muscles.

Depending on why you are using the tape, knowing the underlying anatomy of the body is critical for proper application. Different amounts of stretch and different attachment points are strategically selected to obtain the desired effects. Oftentimes the taping patterns you see on the surface of the skin will match up with where tendons attach to bones, where muscles are injured, or where swelling persists around a joint. But one thing is consistent: the taping is applied in a way that still allows you to move. Unlike other materials that completely limit movement, KT is not strong enough to completely immobilize a joint—and that is deliberate, in this case.

While the tape might not look like it is doing anything on the surface (except making you look extra sporty and cool), research suggests that it actually does what it claims to do. One small study, for example, showed KT is effective at improving muscle torque and strength in the quadriceps muscles of female athletes and another much larger study showed it is effective at reducing neck pain and improving mobility.

The effect of using kinesio tape is more neuromuscular than musculoskeletal, meaning it affects proprioception or your body’s awareness of itself in space rather than just mechanically distorting the tissue. In other words, the tape can help to improve signaling between the sensory receptors in the body and the brain so your brain has a better response to what is happening in the environment.

Don’t believe me? That’s okay. I was once a doubter, too. But after smacking some tape on and seeing results, I’m now a believer and a fan. Next time you have an injury, ask your PT if KT is appropriate for you and make your own conclusions. The pain of ripping it off when you’re done might just be worth it.

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When to use it: A certified physical therapist can help determine when it is appropriate to use KT in your treatment, but here are a few common uses of KT:

When using Kinesio Tape:

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Robert Pattinson actually blew up his microwave mid-interview

If Robert Pattinson ever invites you around for dinner, think twice before accepting – or at least suggest you order in.

The 33-year-old has shared his rather wacky eating habits while in lockdown, and one involves a horrendous recipe for microwave pasta that legit blew up his microwave as he attempted to show it off.

Flexing his muscle as a keen photographer, the Batman star got behind, and in front of, the lens in his London rental for the latest issue of GQ, which he shot himself– sharing a keen insight into how he’s coping with quarantine in the capital.

Seems he’s had a lot of time to think as the star apparently wants to patent a ‘pasta which you can hold in your hand’ and during the interview with the magazine showed off the method behind the madness of the Piccolini Cuscino – or ‘Little Pillow’.

Yes, the darn thing has a name.

And no we don’t know if this isn’t just another one of RPatz’s made-up things as part of his interview performance art.

But, according to the publication – real recipe or not – Robert went and blew up his microwave while they chatted over video.

The actor’s recipe included a ‘giant, filthy dust-covered box of cornflakes,’ pre-sliced cheese, sauce (what sauce? ‘just any sauce’), sugar, penne, and water. Oh, and aluminium foil.

First he burnt himself with the pasta that he had microwaved (by his own admission, microwave pasta is ‘revolting’) he then accidentally lit one of his gloves on fire.

It was the work of an eccentric chef though as he persevered and covered the dish in foil before putting it in an appliance he insisted wasn’t a microwave but was clearly a microwave.

Apparently the grand home he’s living in, while production on The Batman is halted, has many an appliance that looks like an oven/microwave. We’ve never got the two mixed up, but we’re also not living in RPatz’s fancy flat.

The story, penned by senior writer Zach Baron read: ‘Proudly he is walking back toward the counter that his phone is on when, behind him, a lightning bolt erupts from the oven/microwave, and Pattinson ducks like someone outside has opened fire. He’s giggling and crouching as the oven throws off stray flickers of light and sound.

‘”The f**king electricity…oh, my God,” he says, still on the floor. And then, with a loud, final bang, the oven/microwave goes dark.

‘In the silence, Pattinson and I both stare at the mysterious piece of machinery built into the wall behind him.

‘“Yeah, I think I have to leave that alone,” he says, sighing again, picking himself off the floor. “But that is a Piccolini Cuscino.”’

Everything about this is a work of wonder.

Robert’s full interview is in the June/July issue of GQ, available 26 May.

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Can you actually repair split ends?

Hair care manufacturers make many claims in order to sell their products — certain shampoos can get rid of dandruff, while other conditioners can tame frizz. Serums can do just about anything from moisturize to add shine to distressed hair. Some even claim they can repair split ends. But do these creams and treatments actually work? Not exactly.

“Split ends occur when the protective outer layer of the hair cuticle wears away because of external stressors such as heat styling and salon chemical services. Once the internal structure of the hair is exposed, it becomes weakened, dehydrated, and damaged, causing split ends,” Chicago hair stylist Amy Abramite tells StyleCaster. While executing a temporary “fix” is possible, after a split happens, Vox says the damage cannot be undone.

Stylists all agree that the only way to fix a split end permanently is to cut it off — but they also say there are ways of handling your hair so that these breaks, which can make your hair look tangled, dull, and dry don’t happen as often as they may be happening now.

Split ends form if you don't wash and dry your hair the right way

Stylist Mitchel Levey tells Vox that split end prevention actually begins in the shower. “Always comb in the shower, with conditioner on, and always with wide tooth comb. Hair is more elastic when wet, and conditioner will help the comb glide through while distributing the conditioner, without breaking the strand. Rinse with colder water to seal down the cuticle after. Hair will be less frizzy and shinier when dry, and easier to style. Keep in mind that towel drying can cause more split ends, so it’s better to gently pat it dry.”

The battle against split ends continues after the shower, which is when Elle says we should really be looking out for our hair, because that’s also when our hair is at its most vulnerable. “Rubbing your hair dry with a towel will only promote more breakage Instead, apply pressure by gently squeezing the excess water out of the hair using a towel,” salon owner Sam Burnett explains. While you’re squeezing water out of your hair consider avoiding your hair dryer for a while. Burnett says that “‘Anywhere from 60 percent – 90 percent dry is ideal, as the longer you leave your hair exposed to heat, the more damage is likely to occur.”

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