K-tape or Rigid Tape – What is best?

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Kinesiology tape and Rigid tape have vastly different functions, and both can aid an athlete in many different ways if used correctly.

Always check with a professional about any injuries or concerns you have.

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Kinesiology Tape (K-Tape) –

Many athletes wear it as a fashion statement, as they come in many patterns and colours, however, if correctly used k-tape can become a fully functioning and integral part of an athletes training and performance. The material of k-tape is quite different to that of rigid tape, allowing greater movement through a stretchy, non-restrictive material. It is most usefully applied to myofascial lines and movements of the athlete – in simple terms, it is applied to the skin over muscle fibres.

Different application methods can have varying effects on an athlete. The main idea is that the application will allow the athlete to move through an only slightly reduced range of motion, while dynamically supporting the muscular activation of movements. The skin’s receptors react to the tape and relax the muscles and fascia, therefore reducing pain while still supporting the athlete’s power of movement used during activity.

K-tape is a comfortable solution for an athlete that allows for movement and has other benefits such as:

  • Pain relief
  • Muscular activation
  • Injury recovery
  • Reduced swelling (oedema control)
  • Correct posture
  • Improve vascular and nerve stimulation
  • Increases lymphatic drainage
  • Supports microcirculation (nutrient exchange and transportation of cells through capillaries)

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Rigid Tape –

Rigid taping is the most commonly used form of strapping in the sporting world and has been used for many years. Rigid tape serves a vastly different function to k-tape as it is applied to an athlete to restrict then movement of joints through inhibiting muscle activation while giving support.

The application of rigid tape is often used on an athlete to prevent the reoccurrence of and injury by restricting the joint from moving through its full range of motion – therefore disabling the athlete from moving the joint in a way that will cause injury.

When a ligament of muscle has been injured (strained or sprained), strapping the injury using rigid tape can reduce the pressure off the affected structures, enabling the injury to heal faster and reduce pain for the athlete. Soft tissue injuries can affect the surrounding structures by weakening the affected area due to atrophying after extended periods of time without use – strapping with rigid tape can reinforce the injured/weak area and increase the athletes ability to apply more force and increase the load bearing ability.

The benefits of rigid taping – when used correctly – are:

  • Aid in injury prevention
  • Deactivate injured muscles
  • Support surrounding muscle structures
  • Pain relief
  • Support and stability to a joint
  • Aid the athlete to continue activity

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Can They Be used together?

Short answer, no – The purposes of either tape are quite different and if used together on the same injury, they will render each other useless. They can, however, be used on different injuries on the athlete’s body to aid in varying problems.

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It is evident that if used correctly and in the right situation, either tape can aid in performance and recovery – it is all dependant on the needs of the athlete.

Sports trainers are familiar in both taping methods and can help to choose what tape will give the desired effect to the athlete.