So what have we discovered about kinesiology tape so far? We know the purpose of using kinesiology tape is to improve circulation, support muscles and help heal and prevent muscle injury. Its primary benefit over traditional athletic tape is that it's designed to allow freedom of movement and flow of body fluids to speed the healing process. We've also learned that kinesiology tape is sweat-proof, so it won't give way in the middle of an intense workout, and it can get wet, so you can wear it in the shower or pool.
Athletic trainer Carrie Hendrick, who you read about earlier, confirms that a kinesiology tape application will last three to five days, and that most of the athletes she treats notice a change in the treated area within 24 hours. When she removes the tape, she gives the area a break for a day or two before applying more tape, if another treatment is needed [source: Hendrick]. Kinesio brand tape is hypoallergenic and latex-free, so it shouldn't irritate the skin during treatment, and is safe for users with latex allergies.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in using kinesiology tape is that you can't always use it correctly by yourself. If you're treating muscles in your back, for example, getting the correct tape placement could be difficult, if not impossible, on your own. If the muscles you're treating are difficult to reach, consider getting a kinesiology tape buddy who's willing to learn to help apply the tape properly.
Another important consideration when using kinesiology tape is which brand to choose. Kinesio holds a patent for its manufacturing process, and it owns the trademarks for the Kinesio brand and Kinesio Taping. Competitors have engineered tape with very similar qualities to Kinesio Tape, though, and claim to offer the same function. Kinesio has a significant advantage, though, in that it is the only producer of kinesiology tape to offer training from certified professionals on how to use it properly. Hendrick herself prefers the Kinesio brand because it stays on the longest, and she dislikes the pre-cut tapes because it's important to customize the length of tape for the athlete being treated, whether it's a short gymnast or a tall basketball player [source: Hendrick].
Kinesio's competitors continue to find new ways around the red tape, so to speak. For example, K-Active Tape allegedly took advantage of inside knowledge of the manufacturing process by using the same manufacturing facility as Kinesio in Japan. Kinesio has 50 competitors around the world, 20 in the U.S. alone, and spends hundreds of dollars per hour each time they have to consult their lawyers about another trademark violation [source: Domrzalski].
One Kinesio competitor, RockTape, has taken the technology one step further. Though Kinesio Tape was developed primarily for use by medical professionals and was later adopted by athletes, RockTape engineered its product specifically for use during athletic competition. RockTape boasts a 190 percent stretch with the use of a specialized nylon, which is both highly flexible and very water-resistant [sources: RockTape, PTS]. RockTape has also developed a topical muscle pain reliever called Rock Sauce designed to use with its tape. Rock Sauce is similar to, but supposedly more powerful than, products like BioFreeze and Ben Gay [source: RockTape].
In this article, we've covered features, benefits and challenges of kinesiology tape alongside an introduction to the Kinesio Taping Method. Are you stuck on kinesiology tape yet? Stretch over to the next page for lots more information on kinesiology tape.