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How to Use Kinesio Tape for Tennis Elbow

by Patty Weasler, RN March 13, 2020 0 Comments

Kinesio Tape Elbow

Using kinesio tape for tennis elbow is an excellent treatment option for lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, which involves using kinesiology tape to reduce symptoms. Taping your elbow allows you to perform activities that would normally be painful by minimizing pain and changing how you move your arm. Keep reading to learn more about how kinesio tape works, benefits of taping, and a few helpful tips to get you back to work or playing your favorite racquet sports.

How Kinesiology Taping Works

Kinesio taping doesn’t work the same way as traditional athletic tape which typically creates a restrictive brace-like structure around your joint. It works to reduce elbow pain in three very different ways. Here is an explanation of how each way works to provide pain relief.

  • Changes How You Feel Pain

    Kinesiology tape causes a slight stretch on the skin and underlying tissues and provides constant pressure when it is applied to the affected area. This stretch and pressure can change how pain is processed by the brain or interrupt pain transmission.

  • Decreases Elbow Pressure

    Another way that kinesio tape manages the symptoms of tennis elbow is by reducing the load on the elbow during muscle contraction of the wrist extensors. The taping technique is done in such a way that they hinder muscle activity and minimize irritation of the connective tissue between the tendon and bone.

  • Improves Self Awareness

    When you use kinesiology tape it actually causes you to become more aware of your body placement and movement. Kinesio tape on the arm and elbow will remind you to move more ergonomically and avoid strenuous activities. This type of improved self-awareness is also referred to as proprioception.

Benefits of Taping

When you are deciding exactly how you want to manage tennis elbow it’s important to know all of the benefits of the treatment. Kinesiology tape can build your awareness of how your body moves, support your injury, and provide pain relief. But there’s even more than just that, here is a list of all the benefits of taping.

  • Kinesiology tape is inexpensive and easy to find
  • It’s a medication-free treatment that doesn’t require a prescription
  • Decreases pain and boosts circulation
  • Prevents reinjury through support and increase of proprioception
  • Supports the elbow joint and surrounding tissues

Kinesio Taping Tips

When used correctly kinesio tape is a great way to manage the symptoms of tennis elbow. The tape won’t restrict your range of motion and it’ll help you recover faster. Here are a few tips to ensure you get the best use out of your KT tape.

  • Clean your skin before applying the tape
  • Never apply to wet skin
  • Make sure all areas of the tape are directly on the skin and not on your clothes
  • Activate the adhesive with body heat by warming the tape before you apply it
  • Cut the corners of the tape to be rounded to prevent it from lifting off the skin
  • Don’t stretch the ends of the tape over the skin, this helps with tape adherence

Taping Techniques

When you’re getting ready to apply kinesiology tape it’s important to have all the supplies you need ready to go. So before you start, grab your kinesiology tape and scissors. Some kinds of kinesiology tape does come pre-cut. Clean your arms and elbow to remove any dirt and oils. This will ensure the tape adheres to the skin.

These taping techniques can reduce pain and soreness caused by tennis elbow. They are intended to support your arm while you heal.

Forearm Method

  1. Cut a piece of kinesiology tape the length of the tips of your fingers to just past your elbow.
  2. At the tape end of the tape bend one inch and cut two openings for your middle and ring fingers.
  3. With your palm facing downward and flexed down place the tape on the back of your hand and put your fingers through the cutout holes.
  4. Remove the adhesive back and press the one-inch piece onto your palm.
  5. Remove the rest of the adhesive backing and with about a 10% stretch place the tape over the extensor muscles along the lower arm and up to the lateral epicondyle, the outside of the elbow.
  6. Cut a second piece of kinesiology tape approximately six inches long and on one end make a cut ¾ of the length of the tape to create two separate strips.
  7. Place the first two inches of the end of the second piece of tape on the back of the elbow.
  8. With one of the strips pull it 75% tight and wrap it around the forearm. Repeat the same technique with the second strip.

Upper Arm Method

  1. Start with a pre-cut piece of kinesiology tape about 10 inches long.
  2. Straighten out your affected arm with your palm facing downward and hand flexed down.
  3. Remove the backing on a small section of the end of the tape and place it on the back of your forearm, halfway up your arm.
  4. Remove the adhesive backing on the rest of the tape and with about 60% to 70% stretch and place the tape down over the upper arm.

Kinesiology Tape vs Athletic Tape

Kinesiology and athletic tape are two options with different results for pain and discomfort caused by tennis elbow.

Athletic tape has been used by athletic trainers and physical therapists for years. The tape is much stiffer than kinesiology tape and restricts your range of motion. Athletic tape performs more like a brace, helping you reduce your movement and supporting your joint.

Kinesiology tape works differently than athletic tape by providing light support and slightly lifting the skin allowing better blood flow and lymphatic circulation. It is more flexible than athletic tape and does not restrict your range of motion. Physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals have found the many benefits to kinesio taping for tennis elbow.

When to Avoid Taping

Taping for tennis elbow isn’t always the right answer. The tape can cause more issues than it solves for certain people. You should avoid taping if you fall into one of these categories.

  • Bone fractures, taping should be avoided unless approved by a doctor
  • Allergy to kinesiology tape
  • Open sores or cuts on the area that needs to be taped
  • If the tape causes pain, numbness, swelling, or redness
  • If you suffer from circulation or sensation issues

Precaution when Taping

Tennis elbow taping is a great treatment option that can be done at home or during a physical therapy session. When combined with other tennis elbow treatments taping can speed up healing time and reduce pain. If you are unsure if kinesiology taping is right for you talk to your doctor to clear up any questions and make sure you are on the right path to a pain-free elbow.




Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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