All athletes need kinesiology tape

That’s why EQX Body Lab is offering kinesiology taping as it rolls out in Equinox locations over the next few months.

Here’s what you can expect during each 30-minute session: First, you’ll get a Body Lab 360 assessment. “This helps us figure out causes versus symptoms,” says Ashlyn Morris, area manager of The Spa in San Diego and Orange County in California. For example, wrist pain may actually originate from the shoulder; shoulder aches could come from the opposite hip. Taking the root of your problem into account, the expert will perform bodywork techniques such as manual stretching before applying the tape, which extends the benefits of your session. “It’s like putting a therapist in your back pocket for several days,” Link says.

Here, five surprising things expert taping can do for you. For all, you’d return once or twice a week for re-taping until your concerns have been gone for two weeks, Link says.

Open your shoulders for better posture.

When you sit (at a desk, on your commute) for long periods, the shoulders tend to roll forward. When that happens, the muscles between the shoulder blade and spine lengthen. “Think of a rubber band,” Link says. Pull it in opposite directions and the band will tighten as it tries to snap back to its natural position. In the same way, stretched muscles often spasm and lead to knots.

To promote better posture, an EQX Body Lab therapist can tape you either in an X across the upper back or in a V, starting at each shoulder and ending between the blades. Then, anytime you slump, you’ll feel a tug that reminds you to sit upright. “It’s almost as if you had someone cueing you when your posture becomes misaligned,” Morris says. If shoulder taping doesn’t help, that’s a sign the issue is coming from elsewhere, Link notes.

Relieve wrist aches.

Wrist pain—from typing, gymnastics, writing—flares up when the tendons in the carpal tunnel become inflamed. Wearing a brace does you no good. “It worsens pain by making it more difficult to engage the muscles,” says Jeremy Huber, licensed massage therapist and spa coordinator for The Spa at La Costa in Carlsbad, California. When you take the brace off, you’re back where you started.

Taping up the forearm (where all the related muscles live) lifts the skin so the fluids can flow, soothing the swelling and waking the muscles up rather than putting them to sleep, Link says. For Morris, braces used to be an everyday accessory. Now, she gets regular taping instead because it's better at relieving her aches and improving her mobility. “Within minutes, I feel better,” she says.

Ease pregnancy pain—and stretch marks.

In pregnant women, the pelvis often tilts backward to compensate for the additional load in the front, explains Link, who typically tapes women at the end of the second trimester and throughout the third. That can lead to upper- and lower-back pain. To ease it, Link tapes vertically, starting under the belly and ending just below the last rib, cradling the weight and lifting the stomach to take pressure off the back.

There are also cosmetic benefits. “Taping the linea alba [the line that runs down the center of the stomach] releases tension and encourages free flow of fluids to keep it from darkening during pregnancy,” Huber says. This application also minimizes stretch marks by limiting pull on the skin.

Restore mobility where scars limit it.

Think of that rubber band again—that’s your fascia, the connective tissues that encase your muscles and help you move freely. Now imagine placing a heavy object on top of it. All of a sudden, its movements are limited. That’s how scar tissue acts on the fascia that lies underneath.

Applying tape to the scar essentially removes that load so you can easily move through your full range of motion. This is true for any scar, including those from surgery, childhood falls, cycling wipeouts, and more.

Find and activate smaller, stabilizing muscles.

You can flex your biceps without thinking about how, but stabilizing muscles are more difficult to find and engage. That lack of awareness can lead you to use the wrong muscles due to synergistic dominance. “Especially when you’re fatigued, weaker muscles get tired and stronger ones step in,” Huber explains. For example, when squatting, the quads tend to do the job of the glutes. During Pilates, the quads often take over for the abs.

Therapists can tape your stomach in a few ways to help you recognize when you’re properly activating those stabilizing muscles. In a V, the tape provides tactile feedback for the obliques; from left to right, for the transverse abdominis; and vertically, for the rectus abdominis. “Eventually, you won’t need the tape anymore,” Link says. And that’s exactly the goal: to create better habits that improve your performance and recovery in the bigger picture rather than in the short term.