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Kinesiology Tape: Does It Really Work?

image of a leading brand of kinesiology tape

When we turn on the TV and tune in to ESPN, we see athletes competing on the center stage. In an age where these warriors are walking billboards with the brand of shoes they wear, to the style of their hair. We see things such as compression sleeves on the arms and wrist bands that supposedly promote healing properties. The latest widespread trend is the use of kinesiology tape. Does it really work, or is it another fad? In this week’s article, we’ll break it down to you.

Kinesio tape, or KT Tape, was invented by a Japanese chiropractor named Kenzo Kase. The sticky elastic tape is believed to relieve pain and reduce injuries because when it is applied to your body, it is supposed to support muscles and joints. The tape is designed to lift the skin and allow more blood flow, thus to be believed to enhance athletic performance. Many athletes and people suffering from pain use it, and swear by it. Does it provide any more athletic advantage than conventional athletic tape?

example of kinesiology tape used for knee pain

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, meta-analysis determined there was little quality evidence to support Kinesiology Tape over the use of athletic tape, and its reported benefits, or to even prevent injuries from occurring.[1] However, there was some effects on muscle activity, but experts could not determine if they were beneficial or harmful.[2] There are even some suggestions that KT tape provided a placebo effect, and that athletes believed its application and use were helpful.[3]

Experts such as physiotherapist Philip Newton agree that kinesio tape provides the athlete a placebo benefit in the mind.[4] Citing cultural elements, putting on the KT tape is just like putting on a uniform before a game – it prepares the mind for the forth coming battle.[5] Additionally, Phillips highlights the marketing prowess behind the kinesiology tape manufacturers. The bright colors makes the tape more visible in comparison to the traditional white athletic tape, which in many cultures signifies neutrality and weakness.[6]

We should not discount the potential benefits of KT tape, and we should treat all of its purported benefits with skepticism. Just like any workout/diet/herbal fad, more research needs to be done before we can determine if it really works. In order for any treatment to be deemed effective, there has to be a strong correlation of its claim to its expected outcome, otherwise it’s all hearsay. We are not trying to sling mud or dissuade customers from products, but merely informing the consumer. But if the tape works for you, that is great news, as different treatments are effective for different situations. As always, consult a medical professional prior to starting a new exercise, diet, or treatment. We’ll keep you posted as we find out more about the research that’s being done with athletic taping but until then, keep training today, to win tomorrow.

 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22124445

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/kinesio-tape-athletes-help-hype

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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