2012 the year of Le Tour, the Olympics and Kinesio Tape

Kinesio tape has seen a massive increase in use over the last few years, but that increase was seemingly exponential during the summer with the Tour de France and Olympics. But is the tape really that good?

This for me is a contentious issue. I use kinesio tape in the clinic quite regularly because, in my opinion, it has several benefits:
– It can be worn over several days (3-5),
– It gives support (whether by placebo effect or mechanical support?) and
– Can provide a short term reduction in severity and irritability in painful injuries (shoulders and knees are a good example of where applications have been effective). Thus allowing the client to relax and the injured area to become less sensitive.

However, what worries me is the seeming blanket application of taping to “hold people together”. If kinesio tape is holding you together, should you be going for that run / taking part in that training session in the first place? This is a problem that, I believe, arises from both self application (without the required knowledge), but also very aggressive and successful marketing by the the providers of kinesio tape, you’re “not cool” if you don’t use it!

Currently the research is very mixed, which may be due to the large number of applications for the tape. A recent study (Briem et al, 2011) compared the effect of kinesio tape, sports tape (non-elastic) and no tape on sudden ankle inversion. The results showed that sports tape gave better results than kinesio tape, which had no effect on muscle activation. Another study (Thelen et al, 2008) found immediate relief from kinesio tape application to the shoulders of young athletes, but no long term improvements in terms of disability and pain. The immediate improvements found in this study should not be discounted and mirror those seen in my clinics.

The above is a summary of just two of the research articles available and the next couple of years should hopefully bring more quality research to help inform therapists and athletes decisions. So is it that good? It definitely has its benefits, you need to not only think why you’re applying it, but also use kinesio tape in conjunction with a suitable rehabilitation programme.

Ed Pratt

Briem, K; Eythörsdöttir, H, Magnúsdöttir, RG; Pálmarsson, R; Rúnarsdöttir, T and Sveinsson, T (2011). Effects of Kinesio Tape Compared With Nonelastic Sports Tape and the Untaped Ankle During a Sudden Inversion Perturbation in Male Athletes. J. of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 41 (5) 328-335.

Thelen, MD; Dauber, JA and Stoneman, PD (2008). The Clinical Efficacy of Kinesio Tape for Shoulder Pain: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Clinical Trial. J. of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 38 (7) 389-395.

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