Compression tape or better known as athletic and Kinesio tape are one of the most versatile pieces of compression gear out there right now.
Including things like:
- Acting as a temporary replacement for compression apparel
- Use as a baselayer underwrap for casts and slings
- Provide breathable skin protection against the elements
- Compressing smaller and hard to reach areas
- Help alleviate and treat minor pains such as swelling or soreness
- Ideal for a variety of athletes such as runners, weightlifters, and even swimmers
The perfect compression gear for weightlifters, runners, crossfitters, and much more. They’re a multipurpose piece of apparel with different attributes on each that we’ll dive deeper into with each of the individual products.
Best Overall: Kinesio Tape Technology by Physix Gear Sport
This tape might be a no-brainer for some, but for the uninitiated out there, this is one of the most popular brand of athletic compression tape on the market(and for a good reason too).
It has the perfect combination of adhesiveness and coverage to accommodate for most parts of the body.
Each roll measures in at 2 inches x 16.5 feet regarding width and length. The 2-inch width is small enough to fit and conform to different curves around your body while still being large enough to cover the right amount of surface area to provide an even, mild level of compression throughout.
This is what makes it such a versatile piece of compression gear.
Just tear it to your desired length and apply it to the compressed area. You get to choose which areas need treatment and recovery. This way you’re getting a dedicated and focused compression around specific areas of swelling and minor pain.
The other thing that needs to be taken note of is the adhesiveness, or stickiness, of the tape.
It’s a reliable and robust adhesive you can trust to stick and stay on during and after most sports and athletic activities as long as you apply it on correctly. The longevity in this tape is much better than its fellow peers.
To add on top of that:
The tape is water-resistant which is ideal to ensure stickiness.
This water resistance helps when sweat starts dripping, and moisture starts to build up. Also, it comes in handy when you start battling the elements, whether that be track and field, a basketball court, or the gym.
You can keep the tape on you for 1-5 days at a time. But it does vary depending on the type of activity and friction that occurs that might affect peeling. Despite that, I ensure you that this is one of the stronger tapes out there.
If that’s not enough, here’s the cherry on top:
They come in several attractive colors.
For some, that might not mean much. But for the daily user who is going to the gym and running, it’s nice to be able to apply some tape that color coordinates with your training outfit. It helps boost that self-confidence mentality during the workout.
Best Runner-Up: RockTape Kinesiology Tape
Our 2nd choice for best overall athletic tape goes to this comfortable tape by RockTape.
They were extremely close to beating our top choice but fell a little bit short regarding adhesive durability and longevity.
But despite that, they manage to excel in other areas.
The fabric makeup of this tape is 97% cotton and 3” spandex to ensure a comfortable fit when it’s applied to your body for an extended period. This higher fiber cotton content, compared to our top pick, makes it the better choice for individuals who want something a bit more comforting on the skin.
One thing I greatly appreciate about the design is the elasticity.
The 180% elasticity provides more stretch, and it is noticeable when you stress test the tape.
It provides a combination of durability and stretches to conform to places and gives the ability of increased tension which helps with compression. This variable tension makes it ideal if you want higher levels of compression on a larger coverage area. All you need to do is stretch it to get increased tension.
Last, but not least:
The strength of the tape is capable of lifting and positioning the skin to help deal with loose skin and promote muscle recovery in the decompressed area. It can help reduce things like swelling and inflammation, and other minor soreness and pain.
The Rest of the Pack
We have chosen five more compressions and kinesiology tape for you to browse through.
Even though we listed out our top choices and picks, it is always recommended to look through other compression tape choices to see if there is one that would be better suited for you.
These tapes are our choices for given the given categories:
Athletes, Stretch, Budget, Multi-pack/bulk, Unique design
Sometimes there might be a better fit for you other than our overall picks. Our top picks were chosen targeting the general public and their activities and habits when they’re working out and exercising.
Make sure to account for your situation too.
Best for Athletes: KT Tape
Our top choices were made with the overall population in mind. Most individuals who are just trying to work out and stay in shape who need assistance in recovering from their soreness and injuries.
But KT Tape has a much smaller targeted approach for athletes.
KT Tape is one of the more widely used kinesiology tapes out there. Used by professional and Olympic athletes ranging from swimming, basketball, running, lifting, etc. Like any other athletic compression tape, you apply it to the muscle or area of choice and let the passive recovery process takeover.
Here’s what makes the tape ideal for more intense activities:
They are water-resistant making them perfect for those high-stress situations where you’re exerting your body and sweat starts pouring down. It will stick to you for more extended periods of time so that you can focus on the exercise, sport, or event. No one wants that annoying feeling when the tape starts slightly falling off. This tape will secure to you during prolonged wear.
Also, the design in itself is more professional compared to its competitors. The corners of the tape are rounded for smoother fitting and manufactured with reinforced cotton to provide comfort and targeted pain relief.
You can honestly wear this tape for days, and it will stick on. The durability of the adhesive will ensure the compression pressure distributes throughout the area of the skin.
The only downside of this tape is it comes in pre-cut strips. Meaning you won’t be able to choose the length of the tape or size of the coverage area. The Kinesio tape may be too large or too small depending on the surface area of the sensitive area in pain.
You won’t have control over how much you can use.
But besides that, definitely keep an eye on this athletic tape if you’re looking for something with a little more power compared to other consumer Kinesio tapes.
Best in Stretch: TheraBand Kinesiology Tape
One of the most critical features of athletic tape besides stickiness/adhesion is the elasticity and stretch of the material.
Stretch controls how strong the compression is on the applied area. The more tension or elasticity the tape is, the tighter the tape is, thus increased compression.
But you don’t want a cheap one that isn’t durable enough to the point it breaks when it stretches too much. If you want is something that can take the burden and push its limits, then this tape by TheraBand is that ideal product.
TheraBand designed their athletic Kinesio tape with stretch in mind.
When you’re looking at the design of the compression tape, there are hexagonal polygon shapes on the outside that represent if that particular area of the tape is at full stretch. For example, a smaller equilateral hexagon is at 25% stretch capacity, but if you manage to pull it further it can reach 50%.
With this signifier on the tape, it makes it ideal to customize the amount of stretch and compression each tape will apply.
No other manufacturer I know of provides this.
Having this unique feature allows athletes to accommodate their tape to a certain tension level that corresponds to the amount of compression needed to treat and reduce things such as swelling and soreness across the body.
Best Budget/Cheap: Master of Muscle Kinesiology Tape
At the time of writing this article, this is the best bang-for-your-buck Kinesio tape you’re going to get.
Despite the lower price, you’re still getting a high-quality tape that will take care of your needs regarding recovery care and treatment for gentle to mild soreness.
While their design is a little more on the plain side compared to other Kinesio tapes on the list, they still accomplish their primary goal of strong adhesion by having the ability to stick on for a few days at a time.
Also, you get the same amount of tape similar to other brands as well.
It measures about 2” in width and comes in a roll of about 16 feet. You’re getting ample tape and surface area coverage with that amount of compression tape.
The tape is easy to tear and apply. Just pull the tape, creating tension, and then rip it. Then stretch it to your desired tension/compression levels and apply it to the designated area that needs the compression.
The versatility of this tape is endless.
If you’re a swimmer or are involved with water-sports, the stickiness and adhesiveness of this tape are waterproof, allowing you to swim and compete in the water with the same effects of regular compression apparel.
Being waterproof makes it the ideal inexpensive athletic compression tape for swimmers who are wary of athletic tape being able to stick while training and competing in the pool.
If you’re looking into compression tape and want to check it out, I would recommend this tape as a starter if you don’t want to buy our top picks or any of the other Kinesio tapes on the list.
Best Multi-Pack: Nordic Lifting Kinesiology Tape (2-Pack) PrimeTape
If you’re looking for a bunch of kinesiology tape for a reasonable price, PrimeTape has you covered in that department.
Making it an excellent buy for anyone who is looking to get some kinesiology tape in bulk to provide for multiple people.
People who would benefit the most from getting these over other brands are those individuals who need to provide for a large group of people. These organizations include places such as a school, sports clinic facility, team sports, clubs, medical hospitals, etc.
They’re a relatively inexpensive way to apply direction compression for multiple individuals.
Each purchase comes in two individual rolls with varying colors. They include a black/beige option and a brighter red/electric blue color scheme. Single rolls come in the standard 2” width and 16” long roll. The tape isn’t pre-cut so you can use as much tape as you need to cover the area with swelling or soreness.
The color options are a great way to mix and match training apparel and outfits.
For me: I like to think of athletic compression tape as a piece of apparel accessory similar to regular compression gear. It’s a great way to express and show some color in your outfit if you want to flex while you’re in the gym, running, playing, or competing.
I would grab these if you see yourself needing a lot of tapes to handle larger groups.
Best Unique Design: RapidForce Shapes Kinesiology Tape Strips
This was a new one, even for me.
I’ve never seen this type of athletic tape before, especially with this star shape the manufacturer designed.
Despite my skepticism, I decided to look at this with an open mind and see what’s going on.
The first thing I asked: why a star shape?
“Can’t you just do that with regular Kinesio tape, it does the same thing?”
That’s when I realized we could layer compression tape to get a similar shape structure, but the compression wouldn’t be as strong since we’re layering and stacking tape on each other which would lessen the effect of the tape as you continue to stack them.
With this unique shape, you’re getting single dynamic layer design that can provide that even, strengthened compression. It applies compression first in the epicenter of the star and spreads out around the surrounding areas through each “point” of the star.
If you’re looking for something with larger surface area coverage than regular Kinesio tape, I would recommend giving these strips a chance and see if it’s to your liking.
You’ll be able to accomplish even direct pressure across the designated area. Also, it will spread out to the surrounding areas to ensure the compression promotes blood circulation throughout. This pressure will stimulate and ensure the recovery process is happening. It could potentially help with any soreness or swelling around the applied area.