In the area of injury prevention and injury rehabilitation, new approaches, techniques and theories pop up all the time. Some end up withstanding the test of time and more importantly, withstanding the scrutiny of critical research, whereas others disappear after practitioners and recipients figure out they just don’t work.
A fad that has been around for a few decades but skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years due to a clever marketing campaign is the use of the elastic tape known as Kinesio Taping ®. Kinesio Taping was developed in Japan by Dr Kenso Kase in the 1970’s but didn’t become popular around the rest of the world until the 2008 Summer Olympics when Kinesio Tape was donated to the Olympic athletes of 58 various countries. Other types of elastic tape such as RockTape and KT Tape sprouted up overnight. You have probably seen it on professional athletes on TV, runners darting through your neighborhood or perhaps around the office on one of your co-workers. As with any new fad, the key question is does it actually work? Let’s look at what the manufacturers’ say and compare that to what the research has discovered so far.
The following paragraph was taken directly from the KinesioTaping website:
“The Kinesio Taping Method is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions. Both Kinesio® Tex Tape and the training protocol have shown results that would have been unheard of using older methods and materials.”
Those are pretty strong words! Unfortunately, the good, peer-reviewed research that has been performed so far does not support those claims quite so strongly. That is not to say it does not have a positive impact. It can and does work for certain things and in certain circumstances.
In 2012, a review was published in the November issue of Physician and Sports Medicine.(1) In 2013, a review was published in the October issue of European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine.(2) Both reviews ultimately concluded that most of the reserch done so far has flaws and that more high quality studies are needed. Even though more work needs o be done, there have been some positive findings, particularly with regard to short term pain relief.
There is conflicting evidence with other outcomes such as strength and proprioception, but there may be some benefit for certain conditions and dysfunctions in certain areas.
The bottom line is that we at SMI do use both RockTape and Kinesio ® Tex Tape. It is not going to cure, treat or prevent conditions, dysfunctions or maladies by itself, but it is another tool that helps us provide a more comprehensive and complete approach to treating and preventing pain and dysfunction. Furthermore, even a slight benefit in performance or decrease in pain is useful and desired if it is simply derived from applying a few strips of elastic tape! The more we use it, the more evidence we gather, and we can continue to streamline our approach to provide more useful techniques. It is not “the”answer and clearly not even close to what the manufacturers’ claim, but it is still worth incorporating as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us! In the meantime, check out the videos below.
1. Mostafavifar M, Wertz J, Borchers J. Phys Sportsmed. 2012 Nov;40(4):33-40.
2. Kalron A, Bar-Sela S. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2013 Oct;49(5):699-709.