In 2008 Kinesio tape (K tape) was donated to 58 countries for use during the Olympic Games. By the 2016 Olympic Games it was hard to miss; brightly coloured strips of tape decorating the arms, legs and torsos of many high profile athletes. With this exposure, the use of K tape has become increasingly popular amongst the general population. The question must be asked – does it really work?
In a nutshell, K tape is brightly coloured, stretchy tape that is designed to stick to the skin. Proponents of K tape claim the adhe- sive backing on the tape lifts the skin, creating channels of less pressure. They claim it increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage and reduces pressure on nerves, muscles, tendons, stimulates mechano-receptors, improves sporting performance and decreases swelling and pain after injury.
The inconvenient truth for any K tape believer is that for every research paper that shows a positive effect there is another one that shows little or no effect. Numerous systematic reviews have analysed the research data and none have reached any firm conclusions.
Many therapists will argue; if the athlete thinks it helps with pain and performance why not use it? I do not agree. If pain is helped by the use of K tape then it is unlikely there was significant tissue damage in the first place. In this case, tape isn’t needed and shouldn’t be used as a crutch.
Sure, an athlete may feel better after putting some tape on but I prefer the athlete to get better and back to sport by moving without fear. For the fitness of you.