The Review: Kalaya Kinetic Tape
So we might not yet have sunny beach weather but show of hands, who else is trying to get their bodies beach-ready? I always put it off until the last minute (as with most of my projects!) and then get stressed out by trying to put myself onto a strict workout regimen –which I usually stick with for about a week before I fall off the boat again! But I resolved to do better this year and have been fairly consistent (aside from the odd cheat days!). However, as a side effect of finally entering my 30s this year I’m finding myself waaay more prone to muscle aches and pains for days on end after work outs (which makes me all the more inclined to cheat days). There are probably many factors to these increased pains aside from age; stress, not getting enough sleep or drinking enough water, and especially my bad posture from sitting at a desk for the majority of the day. These are all habits that aren’t necessarily easy to change right away, but I didn’t want to get into the consequential bad habit of not working out or being more active because of increased achiness!
I was very intrigued to try out this month’s featured brand/product, the Kalaya Kinetics Relief Tapes. And let me start by stating I had absolutely no idea what Kinetic Tape was or does until seeing the package - I recognized it from seeing athletes wearing it during the Olympics! I still had no idea what it does or how it works though, so I decided to do some background research before I started taping myself up! Kinetic or Kinesiology tape is meant to provide support to muscles and joints to help restore mobility and alleviate minor aches and pains. I assumed it must work similarly to ace-bandages, which I have used whenever I’d roll my ankle (which was semi-frequently). These thicker types of bandages are actually intended to brace an injury by immobilizing the joint or muscle somewhat like a cast, preventing further strain. However, they purposefully restrict movement in the affected area, and by not exercising the joint at the end stages of healing, the brace is not really helping to strengthen the injured area. They can also only be worn for short periods of time, after which they must be removed to restore movement and circulation. And they can really only be worn on arms or legs. My aches on the other hand are usually in my neck or shoulders, which I couldn’t very easily wrap with an ace-bandage (not without looking ridiculous anyways).
So the method of taping is actually totally different to bracing in that they are used to support injured muscles or joints without restricting full range of motion while allowing the area to heal! As a result of injury or strain, blood and other fluids build up causing inflammation and swelling in our muscles. The way the kinetic tapes work is the elasticity in the tape gently lifts the skin from the tissues below. This allows for better lymphatic flow which helps to alleviate pressure and reduce swelling. Once proper blood flow is restored, oxygen and nutrients are better able to reach damaged tissues to help enhance healing. They also help to prevent over-stretching or over-contraction of muscles, kind of like a gentle guide for your muscles and/or posture. You can also wear the tape longer, 2-5 days at a time, as it’s enhancing rather than restricting blood-flow and movement. Think of the tape almost like a second skin that protects your joints and muscles which still allows for full motion of your body! Now it does all sound a little too good to be true, and there aren’t many medical studies outright proving the healing claims of Kinetic Tapes, however, some experiments have found they do have a beneficial role in improving strength and range of motion which many athletes will swear by. As a very much non-athlete I was still very curious to try them out to see if they could help improve my post-workout pain. There are many different brands of tapes which usually come in a roll which you cut into the shape you need for the area of your body needing support. The Kalaya Kinetics Tapes however are pre-cut and come in 7 different styles: Neck, Shoulder, Wrist, Elbow, Back, Knee and Foot, and are available in single use or 3-packs. These tapes are 100% Latex Free and made with water & sweat resistant elastic cotton, the same used by professional athletes(!) however they can be used by anyone/any age/any skin-type as they are also hypoallergenic.
I opted to try the knee, wrist and shoulder tapes, as those are the areas I experience the most pain. Now they can be a little finicky to peel off their paper backings, and as they are a one-size fits all I did find I needed to trim the Wrist tape to better fit my arm, so definitely don’t try to apply if you are in a rush! I think I noticed the biggest different after applying the Shoulder tape; maybe it was a placebo effect but I actually felt relief immediately! The tape is very comfortable and stretchy, but it almost felt like a very gentle pressure on my shoulders. The best way I think I could describe it is like a weighted blanket. I also felt like I was much more inclined to sit and stand straighter and with better posture because I was more consciously aware of the tape while I was working out or sitting at my desk, but not in an annoying way. I found the knee tape was less effective in this respect but then I don’t usually feel muscle pains in my legs as much as my back and shoulders. I happily wore the tapes for a day and a half, and can I also just say I loved the added bonus of how sporty they made me feel. They did a fairly good job of staying in place through a workout and a shower, however I did notice the edges of the wrist tape starting to lift a bit halfway through day two by which point I decided to take that piece off. Now a personal warning; if you happen to use self-tanner, do NOT try to just rip this tape off because you tan will come right off with it!! I learned (a little too late) from a friend who also uses the tape, that the best way to remove it if you’ve only had it on for a day or 2 is to soak the bandage in baby oil for a couple minutes to help dissolve the adhesive, and then GENTLY and slowly peel the bandages off. I did this for the knee bandage and was able to keep the rest of my tan intact.
Now my personal takeaway is that I probably wouldn’t wear these tapes on a regular basis, but I do think they helped improve my posture even after I removed them - muscle memory perhaps? And depending on your type or level of exercise and pain needs I could certainly see them being beneficial! Especially because it’s a mild method of pain relief that is 100% drug & side-effect free (aside from my uneven tan side-effect). They are very simple and easy to use and therefore risk-free to try out! Plus, you get to look and feel like an Olympic athlete while you do your beach-prep workouts!
Here are some extra tips to help you get the most out of using your Kinetics Tapes:
- Prep the area you’re going to tape by wiping with a little rubbing alcohol before applying to remove dirt or grit that could mess with the adherence
- If you have body hair, it might also be best to shave the area before applying the tape! This will help making the remove of the tape less uncomfortable
- Always remove tape in the direction of hair growth by slowly rolling down tape and applying pressure on the skin with your other hand
- You can wear the tape for up to 5 days at a time, but it’s a good idea to wait a couple days to give your skin time to breathe before reapplying the tape again to the same area