A lot of folks involved in kinesiology taping will tell you that tape should only be applied by a super-special, highly-trained, Jedi tape ninja... (actual title may vary).  They discourage athletes from attempting to self-tape.  However, Paul Coker - a physiotherapist, tape instructor, and ROCKTAPE director doesn't fully agree; so here is his advice on how to get started yourself!


When to self-tape with kinesiology tape

Before we get started, Paul makes clear that there are some caveats and exceptions, when you definitely should not self-tape.

If you have a pain that is any of the following, you should see an experienced, competent therapist/medic:

  • You have a pain you rate as 'strong' or 'severe' (on a scale of 0-10: 6 or above)
  • You have a pain that doesn't stop or become mild (under 3/10) in any position
  • You have a pain that is worsening, despite resting it

Self-taping is best suited to those little niggles, aches and pains.  The ones that don't exactly stop you in your tracks, but none-the-less, stop you moving freely, playing your sport, standing at work.


Some Golden Rules of taping

Now, before you grab a roll of ROCKTAPE and get sticking, there are a few things you need to know to ensure you get a safe, effective, long-lasting application.

  1. Round all ends of the tape: This is not just a cosmetic thing to make your tape look sexy and cool (although it will help with that). The real reason is to remove the sharp edges which can easily catch on clothes etc.
  2. Apply the ends of the tape with zero stretch: This is important, in order to stop the tape popping off when you move, or irritating your skin.  Make sure that the last few cm’s of tape is applied with no stretch at all.
  3. Avoid handling the glue side of the tape: There is no need to put your fingers of the glue side of the tape; every time you do so, you leave a little grease behind and weaken to glue. 
  4. Rub the tape all over to activate: When you lay the tape on your skin, it will look and feel like it is well stuck.  However, unless you rub it all over, it will easily lift away from the skin.  By giving the top side of the tape a really good rub you create a little friction and cause a chemical reaction in the glue, making it stick really well.


Simple self-taping

The X-marks-the-spot application is ROCKTAPE's simplest application method, which can be used to treat loads of aches and pains, in just about every body part. 

It takes just 3 simple steps:

  • Put the tissue on stretch
  • Apply the fibre tape
  • Apply the decompression tape


  1. Put the tissue on stretch throughout the application: Get your body into a position that stretches the muscle, tendon or joint that you want to tape. This is usually pretty straight forward, but if you are in doubt, just find a position that stretches the skin tight.  The chances are this will have also stretched the tissue beneath. What is really important is that as you apply each piece of tape whilst you are in this stretched position
  2. Apply the fibre tape:  This bit of tape goes on in-line with tissue fibres.  Apply the tape with very little stretch.  Apply one end first (with no stretch at all on the tape), then peel the backing paper away, and lay the tape onto the skin with a very small amount of stretch.  Lay the final few cm with no stretch at all
  3. Apply the decompression tape: This tape is applied perpendicular or oblique to the fibre tape.  The two bits of tape should cross directly over your sorest spot.  The tape should be stretched 40-80 percent, but remember to lay each end with no stretch at all

Simple! Rub the whole thing thoroughly all over, to make sure it is well stuck.  It takes about 20 minutes to reach full adhesion, so make sure you wait that long before you get too vigorous with your movement!

About the author

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Tom Heyes
Published on: 08 Apr 2016