So What’s The deal..?
We’ve all seen it somewhere.. The bright red tape on the back of Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira’s legs, the camo straps all over that dude from your running club or even the pretty pink argyle on granny’s neck.. But where has this all come from and what are we trying to achieve?
The tape first gained popularity after the 2012 London Olympic Games, where a bunch of athletes showed up sporting all sorts of weird and wonderful patterns across all parts of their bodies. Since then, the use of tape has become common practice but does it work, and if so, how?
According to the official Kinesio Tape website:
The Kinesio Taping® Method is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting.
The elastic properties of the tape allow those wearing it to benefit from the positive effects of the tape without it reducing any movement, as is the case with more traditional, rigid tapes..
The creator of the original Kinesio Tape designed it to mimic the elastic properties of human skin, in this way having a positive sensory effect, as well as creating a “lifting” mechanism by the tape on the skin from the tissue below, hence facilitating blood flow and “offloading” the target tissues (muscles, connective tissue, tendons etc). This assists in the reduction of inflammation in the area, as depicted below..
Having said this, there is actually not a huge amount of research supporting the claims made by the creator of the tape, or the dozens of companies that have started to produce it. Some small studies have suggested the tape has an effect in improving strength and mobility, however these studies are not scientifically or statistically significant enough to fully support the use of the tape.
Some studies have proven that K-Tape has a positive placebo effect, one that causes the wearer to perceive improvement in their symptoms, an effect large enough to support the use of the tape, regardless of the lack of current scientific evidence, as athletes themselves report feeling and performing better when making use of the tape while competing or recovering from injury.
With the continued use, and probably even increase in use, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to anticipate that more time and research will go into finding a definitive answer to whether the tape is just a placebo or whether it’s doing what it was created to do..
Until then, if it helps my clients feel better, I’m doing my job..