Tennis elbow is a kind of tendinitis, a health condition wherein swelling of the tendons causes pain in the arm and elbow. These injured tendons are a group of muscular tissues which connect the lower arm muscles to the bone.
Although people often relate tennis elbow to a tennis game, in reality, a person can suffer tennis elbow even without touching the racket. Tennis elbow usually occurs due to repletion of gripping activity where there is excessive use of the first two fingers and the thumb.
This type of elbow pain occurs over time when repetitive motions can cause straining of muscles and stress the tendons. Due to this constant tugging, there occur microscopic tears in the tissues which eventually leads to tennis elbow.
Some sports which can cause tennis elbow are racquetball, weight lifting, tennis, squash, and fencing. Apart from these, there are certain activities such as knitting, painting, carpentry, typing, and raking, which can cause it as well.
What is KT Tape?
Kinesiology Tape(1), commonly known as the KT tape is a therapeutic tape used for treating tennis elbow. This strong athletic tape helps in reducing muscular pain, enhancing athletic performance, and as well as increasing mobility. The KT tape is faster and easier to apply as it is pre-cut. You need to tear a strip and apply on the affected area to provide support and relief to the joints and muscles. Furthermore, this tape also aids in preventing several sports injury.
How Does Kt Tape Work?
Overuse of elbow joint often leads to severe pain, especially while taping. Many a times athletes feel this pain outside the elbow. It happens due to degradation of the joints and prolonged use. Thus a KT tape is beneficial as it can provide additional stability to the affected area. Kinesiology tape also aids in rendering relief in mid-tricep, mid forearm (exterior muscle) and lateral epicondyle.
KT tape helps reduce pain. Often due to pain, the mind gets distorted and thus fails to perform regular movements of the joints, but with a strong tension tape, it can increase one’s ability to move the joints properly.
[Also Read: KT Tape for Hamstring]
Steps to Use Kt Tape on Tennis Elbow
1. Mid-Forearm to Mid-Tricep
The first step to applying a KT tape on the mid-forearm is to straighten the arm and keep it parallel to the floor. Then you need to flex your wrist which will create tension in the exterior muscles. The first strip of the KT tape will then be applied from the mid-forearm to the mid-triceps area to create support.
Next, to avoid it from getting stuck to the clothes, round the edges of the tape and then create an anchor of two-inch on the side and place the KT tape on the mid-forearm. During this process, the hand should remain extended, and the wrist should face the floor. After rubbing the anchor, the tape has to be pulled to create a 20-50% stretch.
After applying the stretch, apply the second round of anchor on the mid-triceps. While using the kinesiology tape, you must apply it in a way that it covers the lateral epicondyle, i.e., the bony knob on the elbow joint having injured tendons. Lastly, after rubbing the stretched tape and placing the final anchor, a person gets extra support which enables proper movement of the elbow joint.
2. Elbow Decompressing Strip
Enough amount of kinesiology tape is required to apply adequately on the skin. Thus, a long piece of KT tape measuring the length of the elbow joint and the exterior of the elbow is needed to cover up the tennis elbow(2) completely.
To create the Band-Aid effect, tear the KT tape from the middle and with a stretch of 20-50 %, place it on the mid area of the lateral epicondyle. After placing the KT tape on the bony knob, stretch the tape on each end and apply on the skin. Lastly, rub properly to keep the tape flat even after regular joint movement.
[Also Read: KT Tape for Lower Back Pain]
Tips and Tricks for Using Kt Tape on Tennis Elbow
Kinesiology tape is the most appropriate way of treating tennis elbow. But the tape needs to be placed in a way so that it reduces pain and as well as provides support and stability to the affected joint.
1. Create Tension
It is imperative to pay heed to the joint movement and then create the tension with the help of a KT tape by moving the joint away from the KT tape application. A natural tension is created on the exteriors of the forearm when you extend the arm, and the wrist is flexed facing the ground. It is when the tape has to be applied.
The KT tape is not the curator; instead, it is the facilitator which induces the mind to perform its daily actions even with the affected hand. Often, pain distorts the cortical mapping of the mind. Thus to lighten the tension and increase the performance of the joint, people use the KT tape.
Using KT tape aids in obstructing the path of pain and allows light touch to pass through the same neurological way. Although human body allows one sensation to pass at a time by applying this tape, a person feels a constant touch on the skin, thereby obstructing the path of the pain to reach the brain and distort the mind.
Stretching the KT tape provides stability to the affected elbow joint. Often, a person suffering from tennis elbow is perplexed about their stretching limit. Thus, a 20-50% stretch is applied while placing the tape, which aids in a proper movement without causing further damage.
[Also Read: KT Tape for Ankle]
5. Hair and Taking it Off
Pulling off a KT tape can become perilous for an excessively hairy person as it will pull off the body hair when pressure is applied. Thus, while pulling it off, one needs to use the hand gently and pull in bits. Also, one needs to pinch the skin to release the tension of the tape and take it off.
6. Cut the Edges
You should cut the edges of the KT to make it round. The round tip of the tape thus stays firmly on the skin without getting stuck on clothes.
A KT tape is beneficial for people suffering from tennis elbow. It prevents the overusing of the elbow joint and the forearm muscles and increases normal body functioning. But to provide adequate support and stability to the affected area, you need to apply the kinesiology tape correctly which will aid in the reduction of pain and boost the performance.
Tennis elbow is caused by overuse of the forearm and the elbow joint. It can occur due to any sports or as a result of using wrong types of equipment such as tennis racket, or golf club which is either cumbersome or large and doesn’t fit in the grip. Besides bad technique, swinging the hand can also result in tennis elbow.
Thus before performing any activity, it is necessary to warm up and stretch the elbow and arms. In case of any minor pain, avoid excessive movement of the hand. Lastly, after every exercise, it is a good practice to put ice on the elbow to relax the muscles and tissues.