Few people can have failed to notice the rise and rise of this often brightly colored tape in recent years. Whether adorning Gareth Bales legs, Novak Djokovic’s back or covering half of TeamGB at London 2012, kinesiology tape (henceforth I’ll go with just tape) has been rapidly gaining popularity with athletes, patients and therapists alike.
While some people remain skeptical, and doubtful that is nothing more than a passing fad, convinced that all its reported positive effects are down to a heady cocktail of placebo effect and vanity.
Others, myself included, have seen and felt its unique effects to reduce pain and enhance performance. Every day in the clinic I see patients delighted and amazed when I tape them. Every time I teach a taping course I see skeptics become converts by wearing and feeling the tape work on them.
For many people, at the point they realize their pain/problem feels better when wearing tape, they stop asking questions. I am not that sort of people, this is for all those skeptical scientific, pragmatic, rational people..like me. I’m not going to make the usual outlandish claims about what tape can do, and more importantly that we fully understand it.
WHAT IS KINESIOLOGY TAPE?
If I’m really honest there is much we don’t know about what tape can and can’t help, how it does what it does, what system within your body it is affecting. You know; the details. Let’s start with what we do actually know.
WHAT IT'S NOT
WHAT WILL IT DO FOR ME?
Kinesiology tape is commonly used clinically to try and achieve the following:
WHAT IS THE PROOF?
The popularity of KT has grown and spread worldwide based on its clinical effectiveness to reduce pain and enhance performance rather hard tangible evidence about how the effects are achieved.
Although still in its infancy, there are very encouraging signs from research studies and a body of independent academic research is growing to support the positive effects of tape.
There are conflicting messages coming from the research at present. Some studies show no effect of tape on the parameters they tested. Whilst others show that tape does change various things such as pain, strength, endurance etc. So it’s quite possible to cherry pick to form an argument either way.
All research is not equal, and many of the studies examining tape effects are at best on the small side and a worst poorly designed, badly written up and generally quite pants.
That said Research studies have shown kinesiology tape to:
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Cards on the table: Nobody is 100% sure how it works. An amazingly little amount of research has gone into the fundamental mechanics of how tape works.
This is my best guess until more research comes along.Fundamentally tape causes a form of decompression between the skin and the tissue underneath. When an elastic membrane (tape) is applied to another elastic material (skin) the result is often a series of wrinkles in both the tape and the skin.
These wrinkles don’t always appear and aren't necessary for tape to work. But they do make a good visual example of the mechanism by which the elastic qualities if kinesiology tape induces a decompressive effect between skin and the tissue under it.
This decompression of the skin and underlying tissue leads to 3 main effects:
WHO CAN USE IT?
I’M SOLD; WHAT’S NEXT?