Kinesiology tape is a generic term used for elasticated tape that is made for cotton and nylon fibers that often has an intricate wave like pattern on its underside. In conjunction with other treatments it is used to reduce pain, aid recovery and improve movement.
Some of these tapes have been around since the late 1970’s but have come to prominence more recently with many elite athletes now wearing it, and it has become more common place in chiropractic and physical therapy practices.
The myths and facts surrounding kinesiology tape are quite extensive, but the underlying theme is kinesiology taping appears to be effective as an aid to reduce pain, and improve recovery times and improve movement.
So firstly, the myths:
- Colour – the colour of the tape DOES NOT make a difference, having your countries flag on the tape may make you feel more motivated but it certainly doesn’t make the tape more effective.
- There’s no research evidence – the research overall is positive and there are a large number of trials that show the tape to be effective. Where the evidence is poor is for ‘performance enhancement’. It would appear that the tape is only really effective if you currently have an injury.
- It’s just a placebo – there are many studies that demonstrate the effects of kinesiology tape that cannot be replicated by placebo taping so there is definitely more going on than just placebo. However, is there some placebo effect from taping, undoubtedly, do we need to learn more about how it works, yes. Do I think it aids in recovery, definitely.
There are very few reliable studies to suggest that kinesiology tape provides an athletic performance enhancement and consequently it should not be considered as a way to gain the edge over the competition. To my mind its effectiveness comes from its rehabilitation potential.
Kinesiology tape is a safe, effective, low-risk way to give your body a nudge in the right direction toward less pain and better function. It is not magic and it is not a replacement for chiropractic treatment, rehabilitation exercises and sensible injury management but it does work.