If you’ve met any athletes, you’ve probably seen them with strips of tape along their shoulders, backs, and sometimes down their knees and legs. This often bright, sometimes flesh-colored, stretchy tape is called kinesiology tape, Kinesio tape, or KT tape.
Unlike typical athletic tapes, KT tape supports muscles and joints without restricting motion. Some would say it works like a second skin, and they wouldn’t be far from the truth. But that opens questions, like can you shower with a KT tape on?
Forget the guesswork and find the answers to commonly asked questions about kinesiology tape and showering here.
What Does KT Tape Do?
Taping is an old-school treatment, and there are all sorts of athletic tapes out there. KT tape is one of them, dating back to the 1970s, although it only went mainstream in the past decade or so.
Physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors, and even personal trainers use KT tape as a rehabilitation tool to promote healing. It’s a non-latex tape that’s breathable and stretches with the body. It doesn’t restrict mobility. Instead, it allows a full range of motion while adding much-needed support on treated areas.
KT tape works simply: it microscopically lists layers of skin, which stabilizes tissues and muscles, reduces swelling, and boosts the lymphatic system to drain excess fluid. KT tape works like a signal for your muscles to fire.
The tape can be used to treat different ailments, depending on the shape, direction, and how much stretch you applied with the tape. You can use KT to:
- Reduce pain and swelling
- Manage scar tissue
- Support and stabilize weak zones
- Relieve lower back pain
- Relax tense muscles
Is KT Tape Waterproof?
KT Tape is a proprietary blend of spandex and cotton that mimics your skin’s elasticity, and it has a medical-grade adhesive that’s water-resistant.
The tape’s adhesive will stay strong and stick to the skin for between three to five days, even when soaked in sweat or water. Its elastic core should be 100% waterproof and sweatproof, which allows for extended wear – no matter what activities you undertake.
But importantly, the KT tape has a cotton-spandex blend layer, which is not waterproof. Still, it should be fast-drying and shouldn’t cause the elastic to come off of your skin when wet.
Can You Shower with Kinesio Tape On?
You can shower with Kinesio tape on. KT tape is mostly water-resistant. Once it has adequately adhered and bonded to the treated area, it basically acts as another layer of your skin. The tape will not deteriorate or loosen after contacting water. So, you should be able to shower with your KT tape on without it coming off of your skin.
KT tape has the elasticity and tenacity to last through daily showers and rigorous workouts that cause you to sweat profusely (like multiple runs or hours of working out).
If a Shower Won’t Loosen the KT Tape, What Will?
Water won’t remove or loosen the KT tape from your skin, but something like oil can loosen or remove the tape. Rubbing some baby oil directly on the KT tape and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes should help loosen the ends of the tape.
But here’s another thing: while shower water alone won’t loosen KT tape, lathering suds directly on the tape and applying running water will.
Why Does KT Tape Come Off After Showering?
It shouldn’t, but if the KT tape does loosen or even come off after you shower, it might be that the tape hasn’t bonded to your skin properly. There are a couple of reasons that this could happen:
- You applied the tape to damp skin. Your skin takes around 30 or so minutes to dry completely. Using the KT tape before your skin thoroughly dried after washing or showering can cause the elastic to not bond to your skin correctly. It might be why it comes off when you shower. Applying the tape to skin moisturized with lotion or body oils will also result in loose tape.
- You applied the KT tape too soon after exercising. KT tapes can typically withstand heavy sweating, but only once it has enough time to adhere to your skin properly. Applying the tape too soon after a workout means there is still moisture present, which affects the adhesive’s ability to bond.
- The tape’s adhesive didn’t activate properly after application. KT tape’s adhesive layer is heat-activated. Meaning, it will take some heat to help the tape stick to your skin properly. The easiest way to do that is to rub the tape lightly but briskly after applying the tape to the skin. Failing to do so will decrease the adhesive strength of the tape, and it will not re-adhere to the skin.
- You didn’t give enough time between application and showering. Again, it’s essential to let the tape’s adhesive settle before doing any activities like showering. Any moisture generated under the tape before it is properly set will loosen the adhesive.
How Long After Applying KT Tape Can You Shower?
As a general recommendation: wait at least one hour after applying the KT tape before you hop into the shower.
After an hour or so, the KT tape should have adequately bonded to the skin, and you can resume normal activities like showering.
What to Do When Your KT Tape Gets Wet?
You don’t have to worry a lot when your KT tape gets wet since it’s water-resistant. You can simply pat the damp tape dry with a towel and allow the tape surface to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. But never use a hairdryer to dry your KT tape. Remember, the tape is heat-activated, and using a hairdryer can melt the adhesive layer.
Enjoy KT Tape Benefits Even When Showering
KT tape has many benefits: it improves the way your muscles and joints work, increases circulation, reduces pain, and provides overall body support. Plus, it is water and sweat-resistant, designed to keep going as you do, and even more.
If the adhesive has bonded to your skin properly, and you have given it enough time to do so, KT tape won’t come off. This means you can shower, bathe, and even go swimming while wearing KT tape – a truly helpful product.