By Rick Shandley
KT tape elastic sports tape appears to be an effective solution for mild sprains, muscle injuries, and tendon support that are all part of an active outdoors lifestyle.
Often, when a muscle, joint, or tendon injury is sustained, an injury to an elbow or wrist, the first human reaction is to shoot a free hand to the affected area, and hold it. Doing this puts enough pressure, or support, on the injury to help relieve pain. Supporting an injured muscle, tendon, or joint assembly is what KT Tape seems to do very well.
My experience with KT Tape lasted several months and used for old injuries that still wax sore sometimes. And now, this writer is on the second roll of “store bought” KT tape. Yes, it is fairly clear that KT tape works well enough to adopt it as a first aid tool. The injuries KT Tape helped with were a left hand, left shoulder, left foot, and a right wrist. The injury on the right wrist occurred recently and might serve as an example.
While trying to slip a halter on a young stallion horse that had busted out of his enclosure, my right hand was mildly sprained. I had walked up to “Joey,” to calm him down a bit, then with the right hand firmly but gently grasped his long black mane. He bolted. No matter how quickly I released my grasp on the horse’s mane, the damage was instant. Joey took off like a bottle rocket soon as the halter touched his muzzle. My little finger and ring finger of the right hand, and the tendons running up the forearm to mid-way to the elbow, were pulled.
It was not one of those events where the injury was so bad that immediate medical attention was needed. It was more like: “Mercy! That could have been ugly.” If not for the need to get the stallion back to his enclosure, it would have stunned me for a couple minutes. I let go just before the departing equine pulled me off my feet. It was like getting head butted by a goat. Nonetheless, it was an event where you apply the acronym of R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). That’s were KT Tape kicked in most recently by offering compression and support.
After a couple hours of resting and icing the wrist, a friend who is also a paramedic/fireman applied the KT tape to my wrist. Three strips of KT tape were used on the wrist and lower forearm. One of the benefits of this athletic tape is the ability to stretch it and wrap it to provide moderate compression. With the wrist application, the goal was to support the wrist and force the swelling fluid to disperse. After two days, the KT tape wrap came off and the swelling was negligible. The stiffness and soreness were still evident, but after a couple more days the wrist and hand are in good shape. The KT tape endured almost two days of use, and the wrist was wrapped like a brace with minimal splitting of each strip of KT tape.
The elastic cotton tape material and adhesive are free of Latex in case you have sensitive skin. There are no chemicals or medications in the tape. It simply offers support and compression to the injured area and provides that support long enough for the injury to begin healing.
Here’s a bullet-point list of the stated types of injuries KT Tape is useful for:
- Wrist pain (check)
- Shoulder injury (check)
- Foot/ankle pain (check)
- Knee pain such as ITBS
- Back pain
- Elbow pain
- Achilles Tendon
- Shin splints
- Plantar Fascitis
Used by an experienced trainer, KT Tape is potentially super helpful. For some applications, it’s advisable you have someone with two free-hands to help position the KT tape without getting all tangled up with adhesive tape sticking to itself where you don’t want it. The same hassles you’ll experience with any kind of tape apply here. You have to be methodical and deliberate. Trying to apply KT tape to your own shoulder, lower back, or either wrist is a gamble because you just don’t have the control needed to manage the tape. Ah but you don’t have to be a practicing athletic sports trainer to learn how to use KT Tape. You just have to learn how to make it work for you, and know when to ask for help from another person to apply it.
Each two-inch wide strip has about two inches of elastic cotton as an uncut base, then eight inches of split-tape where two one-inch strips can be separated and allowed to fan out to support different tendons and muscle groups. There are good instructions and video demonstrations to information yourself as to how to best use KT Tape for different support applications.
ACE Bandages do the same job of applying compression and providing support to injured muscles, joints, and tendons. But what we liked about the KT Tape is the low-profile strips are not bulky. You can wear normal clothes and shoes without the bulge of a more traditional kind of wrap. The elastic cotton allows you to apply enough compression to reduce swelling and pain, and the adhesive adequately holds the tape locations on the skin with some situational exceptions.
And although we can recommend that you consider having a roll of KT Tape for any number of minor sprains, muscle injuries or sore ligaments, the shelf life is said to be only 60 days. Sixty days seems like the kind of short-lived “freshness” that only an athletic trainer or athletic department would have the need and volume of applications to justify having KT Tape in the first aid cabinet. But then again, after the sample roll of KT tape ran out, it was worth the purchase at Sports Authority to replace it and have it available.
Yes, the tape edges will roll up if you wear any garment over the taped area. After talking to two physical therapist who know how to use KT tape, they both agree on that an application of KT tape will last for three days and is water resistant to a degree. Applying KT tape to clean, dry, skin that does not get covered up is said to be the optimal use for it. Athletic training and event support seems to be KT tape’s core competency.
The tape ends will also lose adhesive capability regardless of how new the roll is. It seems to be the nature of any kind of adhesive-backed tape. In my experience, when the tape gets wet from sweat, rain, or bathing showers, it can come off. KT tape was used under a long sleeve training uniform with an Under Armour shirt, and the uniform over that. My left shoulder was taped up, and the KT tape assembly was soaked and partially dislodged. I’ve since learned about the dry, clean skin, and no over-layer of apparel is the way to go with KT tape. When it is wet, it dries out like anything made of cotton. The tape ends will also tatter and lose the adhesion on the skin at the very end. Once that end peels back, the rest will follow. But that’s all to be expected. What KT tape does is provide support to mildly injured muscles and joints.
What KT Tape does, it does with aplomb. It supports and injured group of muscles, tendons, or joint structure and gives the body time to heal. From the original roll of 20 individual, perforated, strips of KT Tape (totaling 16-feet), there is none left, so I bought more. KT Tape comes in several colors and configurations that will work best for you or your athletic organization. Retail outlets are widely available, with a price per roll of about $13.00. You can find all the applications and information you need at www.kttape.com .