These tapes are usually used on body parts the athletes use the most.
We may see them on the shoulders of beach volleyball players, backs of Olympic weightlifters, or anywhere on the legs of track and field athletes.
And no they’re not just for show.
Yea, some of them may have the obvious purpose of advertising its brand, those with its name on them at least.
But what they do for us goes beyond just decorating our bodies.
If you’re already familiar with kinesio tape (k tape) then you most likely have heard of Rocktape.
And you’re probably here to see if it’s really the best k tape around.
Go ahead and scroll down to my The Best K Tape section and find out or …
For the rest of us that might not have even heard of k tape, you might have a few of these questions:
- What is Kinesio Tape (K Tape) exactly?
- How does it work?
- Does it actually work as described?
- Who is it for?
- What can I expect from it?
We got you covered on these questions.
Theory Behind Kinesio Tape (K Tape)
If you’ve ever experienced sore muscles after an intense workout, or if you joints don’t seem to cooperate when you’re in the heat of the competition, then k tape may be your new best friend.
How k tape works is by pulling or lifting our skin away from the underlying tissue, giving more room in that joint or muscle area. This has the added effect of increasing blood flow in that area and more lymphatic fluid drainage as well.
The overall result is less pressure in the area the k tape is applied to, less swelling and inflammation, and support of imbalanced or weak muscles relative to surrounding muscles.
So how to we get the tape to achieve this “lifting” action on the skin? Simple.
When we apply the tape, the ends of the tape are usually applied with no stretch. Then we simply stretch the tape where we want the “lifting” action to be applied. When we lay the tape down with it stretched, the tape pulls on our skin, which lifts it away from the underlying tissues.
This all works because the ends of the tape are left in an unstretched state. If we stretch the entire length of the tape, the ends would come off easily over time because of the constant tension.
Before Workout/Game Time
The best time to apply k tape is before the actual workout or athletic event that we’ll be doing. Preferably, we want to give ourselves enough time to apply the tape and get our clothing on (or not if you’re into that kind of thing).
The amount tape and stretch really depends on the area that you’re trying to target and how much support you want.
Of course, make sure your skin is washed and cleaned before applying the tape. This makes sure the tape stays on the longest. There are adhesive sprays out there that you can try if you like, but I personally found them unnecessary as long as the skin is cleaned and the tape is applied properly.
The adhesiveness of the tape is heat activated so make sure you rub the tape the generate some heat after putting it on.
The simply put our athletic gear on top of the tape (careful not to bunch the tape up in the process) and we’re good to go!
During our workout or competition, don’t even think about the tape being there. Actually, you shouldn’t feel the tape there (if it’s good quality that is).
For me personally, k tape has been great for my spartan races, intense workouts, or when my joints are feeling sore. You might remember my experience at the Blue Mountain Spartan Super not too long ago. Yup, I used k tape for that race and did it make a difference!
Compared to the same race I did the year before (which had easier obstacles btw), my knees and ankles felt very stable. I flew down rocky declines with confidence, not just because of the Salomon Speedcross 3s I was wearing (check out the review with the nitty gritty details), but the k tape stabilized my knees and ankles so I can make cuts and adjustments as I needed.
It really made a difference in not just my comfort level of running downhill, but the uphills and flats felt easier and smoother. My guess is that any muscle imbalance in my quads and the plantar muscles were supported and realigned by the k tape.
Of course, the k tape isn’t just great for during our workouts, but they’re invaluable afterwards too. The reason being that our muscles and joints probably just took a beating, so the continued increased blood flow and lymph fluid drainage will only help us recover that much faster.
Leaving the k tape on
doesn’t shouldn’t require any effort on our part. Some leave them on for a day or 2 after their workout or event.
In cases of physical therapy, patients often leave them on for multiple days at a time. This gives them continuous support of the affected areas and provide constant relief.
When it’s time to take them off or change them, they should peel off the skin pretty easily. Even though
all some brands are know for their stickiness, removing them should be pain and hassle free.
The Best K Tape
We’ve talked about how great k tape is, so let’s get to the question that we’ve been looking for the answer to: Is the famous Rocktape really the best k tape around right now?
Rocktape is by far the most popular k tape among athletes. It’s been featured in the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Olympic games (may show up on these athletes in the 2016 Games!), track and field championships, olympic weightlifting competitions, Crossfit competitions, etc.
Is it what it’s cracked up to be? Let’s compare it with 2 other brands of k tape on the market right now and see which one really stands out as the best.
KT Tape Pro
Probably the only other k tape that can compete with Rocktape on a popularity level is the KT Tape. It’s made its way into athletic gear market early on and are on the shelves of most major sporting goods chains.
I actually used this KT Tape Pro version of this during my this past Spartan Race . Although I mentioned how much these tapes helped me fly down those devilish cliff-like hills, the overall results really were less than stellar.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
Summary This product was not as promising as I had hoped. As popular as it was, it definitely did not deliver as promised when it came to obstacle racing anyway. I was pretty disappointed on the overall performance of it.
KT Tape Pro Review
This product was not as promising as I had hoped. As popular as it was, it definitely did not deliver as promised when it came to obstacle racing anyway. I was pretty disappointed on the overall performance of it.
For the time that it stayed on, this tape this fine. I felt my knees and ankles were stable and sturdy. And applying the tape wasn’t bad at all. I went on youtube and found a video series of instructions on how to apply them for different areas of the body.
But everything else was pretty disappointing. The tape did not stay on as it promised it would through water and sweat (which there were plenty of in the race). And as soon as it started to go, it was just uncomfortable to have on. Parts of it would dangle and get caught on branches during running in the trails.
The price does not justify the quality of the KT Tape Pro. There are much better k tapes out there.
The tape that we’ve been waiting to get to, the Rocktape. Known for more than just its unique design, Rocktape had a lot to live up to given the hype involved with it.
Endorsed and worn by countless athletes, it’s obviously trusted by a lot of professionals who relies on their athletic performance for their livelihood.
Considering my own experience with Rocktape and those of others, here’s my breakdown of this product.
Everything was great about Rocktape, I think it worked just like it was supposed to, and there wasn’t anything major I could complain about it.
It’s waterproof, stays on great, and really promotes stabilization and recovery of the muscles and joints.
My product didn’t come with any taping instructions in particular and like the KT Tape Pro, I had to dig around to find instructions on how to apply it. It wasn’t too much of a hassle to do that but it’d been nice if it came with detailed instructions.
For its price, I think Rocktape is very reasonable. It’s a great product and I can see why so many athletes swear by it.
Is it the best k tape around right now? Well… we have just one more product to consider before we can answer that.
VARA K Tape
You may have never heard of this brand of k tape, but don’t disregard it just because it’s not as popular as the previous two. We can see how much popularity did for the KT Tape Pro didn’t it?
At this point, you already know how I’m judging k tape products, so without further ado, here’s the breakdown for my experience with the VARA K Tape:
Summary This product was really surprised me at how great it was. I only bought this because of the reviews and it did not disappoint. It did everything the Rocktape did and more in my opinion. I really cannot recommend this highly enough.
VARA K Tape Review
This product was really surprised me at how great it was. I only bought this because of the reviews and it did not disappoint. It did everything the Rocktape did and more in my opinion. I really cannot recommend this highly enough.
There really isn’t much to say about the VARA K Tape except for how great it has worked. It functions the way it’s designed to, stabilize, promote recovery and realign muscle imbalance.
It stays on through mud, water, sweat, crawling on the ground, and lots of other stuff I threw at it. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed for me. I think it could’ve stayed on for days if I let it (the manual does claim 7 days of adhesiveness).
The adhesiveness contributed a lot to the comfort in my opinion. I didn’t feel it was even there and never had to worry about it. And as far as the ease of use, it came with a guide sent by email detailing on how to apply this tape anywhere on our body.
The price is a complete steal if you ask me. For less than $10, you can get started with the VARA K Tape. Compare that with the KT Tape Pro and Rocktape!
So to answer the question we asked: Is Rocktape the best k tape around right now?
My answer is: No, not from my personal experience. The VARA K Tape is one of which I found to be a better overall product. But that doesn’t take away the effectiveness of Rocktape and how great it is. Since price and ease of use isn’t a problem for experienced pro athletes, it’s not surprising to see them using it so frequently.
So whether you’re a hardcore athlete, or looking to relieve some aches and sores, or maybe getting ready for a hiking trip with some friends, k tape will help you not only perform better, but recovery faster and relief any soreness. So why not give the VARA K Tape a try? It won’t even cost you 10 bucks!