How to Use Kinesiology Tape


RockTape UK Medical Director Paul Coker teaches you how to tape like a pro

Kinesiology Taping is the revolutionary new injury prevention and rehabilitation technique taking the world of professional sport by storm. If you're reading this you're probably familiar with how it works, but if not check out our handy blog - Kinesiology Taping: What's It All About?

Before you tape

Find a marker that elicits the problem or pain you want to tape. If this taping is done right it should give an instant improvement in this marker.  It could be something specific like an empty can or grip strength test. Where possible I try to use something simple and functional like a squat, sit to stand or arm elevation. This way both you and the patient can see and appreciate the change.  The mantra is; Test. Tape. Test again.

Skin preparation

  • Make sure the area you want to tape is clean and dry (oils, creams, sweat etc all stop the tape from sticking well). 
  • If hair is thick enough to prevent tape adhering well shave the area first.
Description of Tape Stretch Percentage Stretch
Very Light 0-15% 
Light 25% (Paper off tension ie. how tape comes off the paper) 
Moderate 50%
Firm 75%
Full Up to 95% (Never use 100% stretch)

Pain reduction taping protocol 

This simple 2 strip taping is a great way to reduce pain and improve regional function. It can be used almost anywhere on the body to help a whole bunch of problems from tennis elbow to plantar fasciitis. It’s a perfect starting point to try tape out on you or your patients.

  • Cut 1 long strip (Stabilisation). As a rough guide it should be the length of the structure you want to tape. For example: To tape for tennis elbow it should be the length of the Wrist extensors. To tape Lateral knee pain it should be the length of the ITB)
  • Cut a shorter strip (Decompression). About 10-20cm depending on the size of the body/ area you want to tape.
  • Round the ends of each tape. This is not cosmetic, by removing the sharp angles it helps to tape to stick longer.


  • Stretch the tissue in the area you want to tape as much as possible.
  • Take the long strip. Tear the backing paper close to one end and stick the end down with no stretch on the tape. Peel the backing paper away as you stick the tape in line with the tissue with just the amount of stretch that is already on the tape. (Blue strip)
  • Take the short piece of tape tear the paper in the middle and peel it back so ½ the tape is exposed, stretch it a little (approx. 50% stretch) and lay it like a plaster right over the sore bit roughly perpendicular to the first bit. (Pink/Black strip)
  • Always lay the first and last 3-5cm of tape with no stretch at all.
  • Rub the tape all over before you start moving about to activate the glue.

Pain Reduction Taping Examples for medial knee pain and lateral elbow pain. This simple protocol can be used in the management of pain almost anywhere in the body.

If there is no change or the marker is worse try the following tape application:

  • Reverse the direction of application of the stabilisation (long) strip
  • Try taping another muscle/structure on the same kinetic chain/anatomy train.  
  • Use the decompression strip to ‘tweak’ the tissue in a direction which helps the pain. 

Oedema Control (Fan) Taping

This is the go-to technique in situations where swelling or inflammation is the most prominent clinical sign.

  • The Base of the tape is placed over a lymph node (Back of knee, Groin, Axillary) or proximal to the swelling.
  • Tails of the tape are applied with very little stretch (10%)
  • Main point of swelling should be under the distal half of the fan.  The picture shows an example for the lower leg.  Great for ankle sprains and swelling around the foot or ankle.
  • Fan tapes are also well worth trying in areas of hypersensitivity and very irritable pain.
  • The theory here is that the Fan stimulates micro circulation and in turn enhances fluid exchange, lymphatic and vascular function in the taped region.

Mechanical low back pain taping

  • This taping is fantastic for patients presenting with pain and/or restriction to forward bend (we all know a few of them!)
  • In 4pt kneeling, sitting or standing ask the patient to bend forward flexing the lumbar spine as much as pain allows.  The entire taping will be applied in this position so make sure they are comfortable and if required supported in this position.
  • Apply the 2 vertical Stabilisation strips over erector spinae first. (25% stretch) Make sure to start them below the PSIS.
  • Apply the decompression strip right over the sorest spot.  Tear the paper in the middle and stretch the exposed tape 50-70. Stick this middle part first before laying the end with no stretch.

Taping for calf muscle and Achilles tendon pain

  • 2 Stabilisation strips applied with 25-40% tape stretch.
  • Gastrocnemius on full stretch. 
  • Usually applied foot to knee but occasionally works better the opposite way.

Support taping for anterior knee

This taping is essentially a stick on customisable patella-femoral brace.  It’s great for any problems relating to distal quads, patella and attached connective tissue.  

  • Pattern is cut from a strip of extra wide (10cm) tape
  • Tape is applied bottom to top with knee flexed 90-120°.
  • 25%-50% stretch on the tape around the patella. 25% stretch on the tails over quads.
  • Less flexion at the knee during application results in more tape stretch as the knee bends, therefore increasing the degree of support offered by the tape.

Upper back postural correction taping

This taping is perfect for those with less than perfect posture. When applied correctly, the patient should only really ‘feel’ the tape as they drop into poor postural position.

  • This taping uses extra wide (10cm) tape.
  • Tape is applied with the patient adopting the posture you want to promote.
  • Stick the middle of the tape first directly over the spine.
  • Apply each side in turn with 25-50% stretch up to the tails (yellow line).
  • Apply the 4 tails with no stretch. 

Top tips for taping like a pro:

  • Always curve the ends of the tape.
  • Never put any stretch on the ends of the tape.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to plan, cut and stick with precision.
  • Keep your taping fairly simple.
  • Try not to handle the glue side of the tape.
  • Take time to carefully rub the tape ALL over to ensure the glue is activated and the tape sticks well.
  • TEST. TAPE. TEST AGAIN.  If the tape makes no difference, be prepared to remove it and try again.


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