Taping has been used in athletic therapy and rehabilitation for many years. The concept of taping isn’t new. Traditionally, athletic taping has been primarily used for supporting a dysfunctional area. Perhaps the most common application would be taping an ankle to prevent sprain (or another sprain) similar to what an ankle brace is trying to accomplish. So is this the same as all the coloured tape we’re seeing on athletes in the Olympics and World Cup?
The coloured tape that has become very popular in recent years is called Kinesiotape. There are various companies that manufacture this form of tape. Perhaps the primary difference with this form of taping from the traditional type is that it’s stretchy as opposed to rigid, less tape is used and it’s not usually designed to limit movement in a joint. For example, when taping an ankle with traditional athletic taping, the ankle is covered with tape, as if it’s wearing a sock without toes and heels. Kinesiotape usually looks more like coloured strips. Usually, more movement is still permitted with Kinesiotape since it is stretchy.
Kinesiotape was actually invented in the 1970’s by a chiropractor named Kenso Kase. The proposed benefits of kinesiotape include the facilitation of normal muscle activation and joint movement, decreased pain, improved circulation and increased proprioception (among other things). There’s no question that the popularity of Kinesiotape has drastically increased. We’re seeing it used by high profile athletes on the television and it’s now available in many local stores, not just through health practitioners. It also looks really interesting and colourful. But does it work?
In 2012 an analysis of the current literature was published in the journal Sports Medicine. The authors of this paper determined that the available literature on kinesiotape is inconclusive. Kinesiotape may have a mild benefit on strength, sensation of force generated and active range of motion in an injured area, but these results are not definite. In other words, the benefits of kinesiotape are anectdotal at the moment and there really doesn’t seem to be any definite scientific evidence proving its worth.
There are often new trends in rehabilitation and kinesiotape is one of them. Usually, the research takes time to decipher whether a given approach is effective. At the present time the literature is inconclusive but many practitioners and patients alike sing its praises. Until the evidence gives us clear direction, kinesiotape might be worth a try for various conditions, provided your health care practitioner has examined you and established that it would be safe to try.
Injured? Not sure what treatment approach to use? Give us a call, we can help!
Williams S, Whatman C, Hume PA, Sheerin K. Kinesiotaping in treatment and prevention of sports injuries. A meta-analysis of the eveidence for its effectiveness. Sports Medicine 2012; 42(2):153-164.