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How to Apply Kinesiology Tape

We introduced you to Kinesiology Tape with our Intro to Kinesiology Tape Blog, and we thought what better way to follow it up than to teach you how to actually apply the stuff!

It’s all well and good knowing that it originated in Japan in 1979, but if you can’t make it effectively work for your body, there isn’t much point, so let’s take a quick look at how to apply Kinesiology Tape.

Before we start, here’s a few terms to be aware of:

Anchor – The correct terminology for the end of the tape, usually the last two or three inches. It is used as the base with which to apply the tape. The anchor should never be stretched, ensure it is always applied without tension.

Stretch – Usually, you won’t want to extend the tape to its full stretching capability when applying, but most instructions will request at least some degree of stretch. It could be described as little to no stretching, light stretching or moderate stretching. Or you could see percentages, such as 50% for stretching to half of the tape’s full stretch, 25% for between none and half, and 75% between half and full stretch, and so on.

Flex – If you’re asked to flex and limb or joint, it simply means to extend the muscle or bend the joint. ‘Dorsiflex’ refers to the opposite, for example, with an ankle, it would mean bending it backwards.

Applying K-Tape can be tricky to get the hang of at first, and taping those hard to reach areas such as your back or shoulder might require some assistance, but generally, application is pretty simple when you get used to it. Here’s some handy tips:

  • Before you do anything, make sure your skin is clean, dry and free of any oils, lotions or creams. This will enable the tape to stick more securely and ensure you don’t have the ends peeling off.
  • Don’t apply kinesiology tape to damaged or broken skin, and if your skin is particularly sensitive, try testing out a small section for a period of around 24 hours to check that you don’t suffer any ill-effects before applying a full taping job. Also, make sure you give it at least an hour after applying if you plan on swimming while wearing.
  • It’s not always necessary to stretch the tape while applying, but you will generally need to stretch the area of the body which you’re applying it to, unless it’s a joint, in which case you should bend it rather than extend it.
  • A good practice after cutting the tape to whichever shape you want, is to round off the tape by cutting off the corners.
  • Once you’ve done that, peel away the backing of the tape around two or three inches down the piece you cut to make an anchor point.
  • Apply this anchor to the skin first, avoiding any contact with previously placed strips, while also making sure not to stretch the anchor point, otherwise it won’t stick properly.
  • Spread the tape over the designated body pat, stretching it as much or as little as you are instructed. Once it’s stuck down, rub it all over to activate the head adhesive and seal a strong bond between the skin and the tape.
  • Try not to allow the tape to wrinkle, as this could create an unwanted pressure point.

Before we get in to specifics, let’s remind you of the shapes you’ll be needing fr our examples.

The I

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide

A standard strip of tape with no cuts or alterations. Kinesiology tape is generally manufactured in a role of I strips. Particularly effective when applied to injured muscles.

The Y

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide

A strip of I tape which has been cut down the middle to produce two ‘tails’, but still remains attached at the end.

The Donut

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide


Achieved by taking a strip of I tape, folding it in half and cutting down the folded centre instead of from the ends. When unfolded, there will be a large ‘hole’ in the middle yet the ends are all still joined – like a donut. This technique is often seen on the knee, when the kneecap occupies the donut’s hole and the donut’s sides are taped around it.

Lower Back

What you need: Three I strips, two identical in length and one shorter.

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide Back

  • Get into a seated position and bend forward as much as is comfortably possible.
  • Apply the first two strips vertically along the lower back, parallel to each other, from the bottom of the spine up to the bottom of the ribs. There should be little to no stretch on these two strips as your back is fully stretched.
  • Without changing the position of your back, apply the third strip of tape horizontally across the two vertical strips, targeting the sore or painful point of your lower back. Unlike the first two strips, there should be a moderate stretch of about 50% applied to the middle of the area of this final strip. Remember that the anchor at either end of the tape is stuck to the skin with no stretch.


What you need: One I strip cut into a donut, one shorter I strip.

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide Knee

  • Sit down, raise you knee slightly and place a cushion or pillow underneath it.
  • Before creating the donut, measure the I strip by ensuring it will cover from bottom of the patellar tendon below the kneecap.
  • Once you’ve cut the donut shape, apply the first anchor over the patellar tendon and open out the donut shape over the kneecap, so the top of it is visible through the hole. This should be applied with 50% stretch.
  • Apply the edges of the hole around the sides of the kneecap and continue application, with the remainder of the tape covering the bottom of the quadriceps above the kneecap.
  • The shorter I strip of around five inches should then be applied horizontally below the knee cap, also with 50% stretch.


What you need: Two I strips, identical in length.

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide - Calf

  • Position your foot behind you and stretch your calf with your heel placed firmly on the ground.
  • Place the anchor of the first strip of tape just above the top of the Achilles tendon on the back of your left, and apply with the 25% stretch around the right-hand side of the calf muscle.
  • Do the same with the other strip, but place the bottom anchor so it overlaps the bottom anchor of the first strip, and apply it over the left-hand side of the calf muscle.



What you need: One Y strip, one I strip.

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide Neck

  • Position yourself so your neck is stretched fully downwards and your head is facing the floor.
  • Place the anchor of the Y strip between the middle of the shoulder blades and extend the two tails vertically up towards the neck, without any stretch and leaving a small gap between them.
  • Targeting the sore of painful area of the neck, apply the I strip horizontally at full stretch.
  • If it is easier, tear the backing in the middle of the tape rather than at the end, so the adhesive is exposed in the middle but you are still able hold both anchors – similar to how you would apply a plaster.


What you need: Three I strips, one longer and two shorter.

Kinesiology Tape - Application Guide Shin

  • From a sitting position, keep the knee slightly bent but extend the leg and the ankle so that the foot is pointing downwards away from the leg.
  • Apply the longer I strip vertically from the bottom of the shin to the top with a 50% stretch. Ensure that it covers the specific area of pain.
  • Now, focus on the area of pain nice more. Take the two shorter (around five inches long) I strips and, both horizontally, place one above the area of pain and one below. They should be applied with a 75% stretch.


How to Remove Kinesiology Tape

The best tip we can offer when it comes to removing your kinesiology tape is to peel the skin fro the tape, not the tape from the skin.

But in terms of the actual process, firstly make sure you’re removing the tape in the same direction as the growth of the hair underneath it, and whatever you do don’t rip the tape off like a plaster!

Start slowly, folding the corners of the edge back gradually, ensuring that you’re laying the removed tape on the back of the applied tape, as opposed to pulling the tape above and away from your arm.

As you’re peeling off the tape, hold your skin down with your other hand and either tap it, or pull it gently in the opposite direction of the tape. This helps the skin and the tape to separate more efficiently but with no discomfort.

If the tape has been applied over a particularly hairy part of the body, it helps to press down on the tape as you are peeling it off, as the pressure helps avoid further pain. It’s wise to have shaved the area before applying the tape but, as this isn’t always practical, taking this precaution will be necessary to some.

Need a little extra assistance? Apply oil directly onto the tape, rub it in and wait around 10 to 20 minutes before removing it slowly. This will help reduce the stickiness of the tape and make it easier to remove.